Rishikesh along with neighboring Haridwar had been a melting pot for Sadhus and spiritual seekers. These twin towns have also been the ultimate pilgrim place since time immemorial for Hindus. This is where the mighty Ganga enters the plains. And becomes the life providing force for the people living on its banks till it merges with the sea in the Bay of Bengal. There are many popular tourist sites like Lakshman Jhoola and Ram Jhoola, the famous ashrams like Sivananda’s ashram, Omkarananda’s ashram, Parmarth Niketanand Swargashram. To see and be a part of the evening aarti at the Ghats of Ganga is a beautiful sight. That you have to experience and no words would be able to describe it. Recently a walking path, named Aastha Path has been built along Ganga. Astha Path is also known as Asthapath or Marine Drive Rishikesh.
Aastha Path or Marine Drive Rishikesh
Recently, a walking path along the Ganga has been built in Rishikesh, where one can walk along the river. This runs from the barrage to Triveni Ghat as of now but will be extended till Ram Jhoola. The pathway is about 20-25 feet wide. You have to go down about 50 steps from the adjoining road to get to this pathway, ensuring that vehicles will not be able to come on this path. As of now, the whole path is about 2.5 KM’s. Beautiful but solid ramparts ensure the safety of the walkers. The lampshades and the ramparts design compliment each other. Ironically the locals call it marine drive rather the more apt name Aastha Path, probably they are done with the spiritual names and need a change.
Walk along Ganga
The walkway has a towering cliff on one side and Ganga on another side. Punctuated by gazebos where you can go to get an uninterrupted view of the Ganga. Or to just sit there or to meditate in peace. There are benches facing Ganga at regular intervals for those who cannot walk too much or would like to sit and quietly talk to the Ganga. There are small temples at regular intervals throughout the Aastha Path pathway. Some of them have Ghats leading to Ganga. There are some small Ghats built at regular intervals for people to go and meet the Ganga up close and personal.
I went a couple of times for morning and evening walk on this Astha Path, rarely do you find such a serene environment to walk. I think this is one of the perfect places to spend time with yourself, to just sit and see the Ganga come down the planes. To see divinity on the face of spiritual seekers, to meditate and or to just be at peace. One evening I walked from Sai Ghat to Triveni Ghat, attended the evening aarti there and it was an amazing experience.
I came across an interesting structure along the Marine Drive Rishikesh. That looked like a huge pillar at first look. I was told that is actually a water-well. Whose walls have become bare as the soil around it has fallen apart? And it took me some time to comprehend the same. It seems that the well is still in use. As you can see the attachment on top to pull out the water. Somehow the structure added to the overall ambiance of the place.
On the other side of Ganga are the rich forests providing a perfect backdrop for the river that flows rather quietly through this stretch. As it keeps expanding its expanse. The Ganga flows with its twists and turns. And sometimes leaving a small stretch of beach like shore and sometimes touching the mountains. As she meanders through the path she has carved out for herself. You see her as the all-pervasive river that will go wherever she wishes to. As you walk along her curves, she does not feel like just a river but a young girl who is about to enter adolescence.
Do take a walk on the Aastha Path as and when you can…