The last post I wrote had an unforgivable error. I mentioned I went to the banks of the Ganges, or Ganga, after going to Kankhal when, in fact, drove there after visiting the Neelkanth Temple. Yes, I was at this temple on the hill and made some picture-postcard images while I was visiting the place.
There is nothing wrong with picture-postcard images, and I’d like to say that this is fine if it is not your main style of photography. But this is a snobbish statement, and unacceptable. It’s critical to acknowledge that not everyone takes the time to edit images till they resemble nothing on Earth.
If you gaze down at Rishikesh from above, you notice that the Ganges River bisects the town. When you look towards the hills, you notice one road on the left side of the river, which I have nicknamed “The Left Road”. The other side has “The Right Road”. Not that the Left Road is the wrong road, but I assume you get what I mean.
Most hotels are on The Left Road, but to reach Neelkanth, you must cross a bridge beyond, or at the border of the town.
Once you cross this road, you turn left and climb up the hill.
About The Temple
The Neelkanth Temple has is dedicated to Shiva, also known as The Destroyer. This appellation does not do Shiva justice, as he is the most multi-faceted and fascinating God in the Hindu pantheon of gods.
The meaning of Neelkanth is The Blue Throated One. This place, legends say, is where Shiva drank the poison that floated up when the Gods and Demons churned the ‘oceans’ to get – or find – ‘amrit’ or the nectar of immortality. A poisonous froth rose to the top (akin to slag, in steelmaking!), which Shiva drank. When he had consumed the poison, his throat turned blue.
It’s a different matter that, after co-operating with the Demons to get the nectar, the Gods then ticked the Demons and kept the drink for themselves! Gods were not perfect. Neither were they immortal and had to drink the nectar to attain immortality.
We drove up the 32 km to the temple and then walked around.
I found the temple exterior to be a bit too colorful for my preference, but everyone has their own taste. The interior was dirty, and I ended up walking around almost on my toes. I remember the walking path being wet, and I hate the idea of wearing wet socks that encase dirty, mucky feet.
We walked around with our cameras slung around our necks. Priests don’t allow you to photograph anything inside a temple because you are not allowed – in their words – to photograph God. I’ve always wondered at this because you are gaping at a statue, and this is a man-made thing. Still, I have found it advisable not to argue with them, because they can be rather abusive. In fact, they are creative and filled with passion when they abuse.
Apart from this, you will find cops hanging around the most famous temples, and they are zealous guardians of the Gods. Since those days, we Indians have become increasingly intolerant, and we have many right-wing groups who are always ready to defend the honor of Hindu Gods.
I was more interested in the ‘bhajia and chai’ at the local restaurant. The closest description I can give of a ‘bhajjia’ is that it is a sort of fritter. A bhajji is potato, onion, or green chili coated with gram flour and deep-fried. We have many kinds of bhajjia and pakora, and regional spices determine the flavor of the bhajjia. You find egg or chicken in pakoras, but not in bhajjia!
I gaped at people ringing the temple bell, and then we left on our return journey to Rishikesh. Ringing the temple bell is almost mandatory because the sound marks your attendance at the temple and sends your prayer and attendance report up to God.
I edited these images using Luminar AI. It is an excellent tool for consumers, prosumers of people who have many images to edit. The software suggests templates, or presets, as a starting point, and you are free to ignore these suggestions if you like! Skylum is launching Luminar Neo, and the final ( I think it is final) presale sale is live!
I got the smiley from https://icons8.com