Delhi had changed a little since 2006 when we last visited. Masses of cars on large four lane highways, terrible pollution and smog, and smart phones everywhere. Despite this the charm of India is still there. Within the manic traffic there are still cows, horse carts, vast loads on rickshaws, and labourers hauling goods on trucks. The vendors selling street food and the brightly coloured markets are the same as before.
Once we had reassembled the tandem We soon found ourselves immersed in the real India again exploring the hussle and bustle of the narrow streets of Old Delhi. The smells of food spice and filth were familiar to us along with the noise, and it was nice to be back. We enjoyed great food, thalis, dosas, and spiced chai.
On Thursday at 7.00am, we left the chaos of Delhi and its 22 million inhabitants. Buses, rickshaws, carts and lorries all competing for road space in the morning rush. Horns blasting, people shouting, and vehicles swerving in a random way. This huge crowded city was starting another day. Buses and rickshaws carrying school children and well dressed people on their commute to work.
After an hour and a quarter cycle, past rubbish recycling, laundries with clothes hanging to dry, steel fabricators, mechanics of all kinds, and doctors with a very wide range of medical services on offer, Delhi finished abruptly, and we were on a small rural potholed road, called pipeline road, with cultivated farm land on either side. This led to a good quiet road alongside the Upper Ganga Canal, a vast irrigation system that takes water from the Himalayas for hundreds of miles to farm land of the wider Ganges plain.
Cycling alongside the canal was very pleasant. Families of monkeys running across the road and bright green birds in the trees and forest that lined each side of the canal.
The land beyond the forest strip adjacent to the canal was cultivated with neat plots of crops and large area of sugar cane.
We passed people working in brickworks and others making dung and straw fuel patties, which were constructed into cone like structures and thatched for storage.
Frequent stops in small towns and villages for chai and samosas, and puris and dhal at small stalls and shops, with lots of friendly people looking on.
The canal road was a great way to get us up to the Himalayas, quiet and mainly a very good surface. We eventually met the Ganges river at Haridwar where it leaves the mountains. It’s a big fast moving river here and we follow the Ganges valley up to Rishikesh, climbing through forests, where holy men live in caves and monkeys are in the trees above us. The Beatles spent some time in these woods at an Ashram near the river.
Finally we arrive at a small place just upriver from Rishikesh. Ashrams, gurus, and holy men are in abundance. There is a tranquil feel to the place set in the Himalayan foothills on the banks of the mighty Ganges river