The longest train ride of my life…

The train journey from Varanasi to Haridwar was over 21 hours. We set off at 8am and arrived at 5.30am. surprisingly, it went fairly quickly. It was spent writing, sleeping and eating.

We were in a second class carriage with three tiered sleeping berths. At times it was pretty hot but at others the aircon came on and was refreshing. People came on and off the train selling things to us. We bought a few cups of sweet chai tea and enjoyed an Indian spicy curry for lunch and one for dinner too.

The second tier bed folds down so during the day everyone sits on the bottom level and then when people want to sleep the second level is clamped up and three beds appear.

This worked out fine as people were keen to nap after lunch and sleep at 9.30/10pm. I personally could have slept earlier but it wasn’t too late.

We arrived in Haridwar in the dark. The conductor woke us up to get off. This was lucky because otherwise we would have missed out stop. We shared a taxi to Rishakesh. It cost 300 rupees each (£3) for an hour ride.

The taxi pulled up at 6am and as normal we had no where booked for the night. We walked across the bridge in the hope of finding a guest house.

Not knowing which accomodation would be best we opened up Hostel World. The nearest and with the highest ratings was Bunk Stay. We climbed a series of steps and arrived. They had beds – result. The backpackers hostel also had a roof top overlooking the city – perfect.

We were hungry but breakfast wasn’t until 8.15am so we decided to go for a walk to kill time. What was going to be an hour walk turned into two and a half hours. We were on a quest for a waterfall. We could hear it and almost see it through some trees but didn’t quite get to it.

Instead we saw some small cascades which were lovely.

We sped walked back to the hostel and enjoyed a curd (yoghurt) with museli and fruit.

After breakfast instead of resting like most people would we went for a longer hike this time to a bigger and better waterfall.

When we arrived we carefully rock- climbed up the steep waterfall and found natural caves to sit in. Placing my hands and feet tactically in rock indents I made it up. Sitting in the pitch black cave I looked out at the sunny blue sky. There were intricate rock formations that jutted down from the ceiling.

One of us started chanting and we all joined in. Taking a deep breath in through our noses we released an om sound on our exhale. All tension from my body was released. I could have sat there in the pitch black cave all day.

We returned to the bottom for a picture before walking to a beach. On the way we fed some monkeys. They swarmed towards us as soon as they saw the cookies.

Shiny white sand lined the Ganges River. It must have been due to the erosion of quartz stone.

We jumped in the holy river and had a quick swim in the cold water.

I hula hooped for a while before we headed back to the hostel. It was a long day.

That evening we walked to Ira’s cafe for a delicious rose lassie and chickpea curry. It was divine.

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