From Hampi we travelled to Delhi were we dropped of our bikes to travel on to Gangotri in Utranchal by train and bus. We were keen to see the Himalaya's, the tallest and pointiest mountains in the world. We only had a short time left in India so we had to choose a single destination in the Himalaya mountains. We chose Gangotri, an important destination for Hindu Pilgrims. From there we would walk 17 kilometers to Gaumuk (Cow's Mouth) where one of the sources of the Ganges is purported to be. Actually the source is far higher up in the mountains, but this is the place people visit to be near the beginnings of the holy river. From Gaumuk we climbed for another nine kilometers to Tabovan at 4700 meters. We spent a blisfull few moments here in the indescribable beauty of the mountains on the longest day of the year and Bram's 31st birthday.
Travelling by train and bus is an altogether different way to see a place (than what we had gotten used to on the bicycles). You see different things, you meet different people. We are glad to have combined public transport and the bicycles this way. Nevertheless, we are also definitely pleased to have been cycling most of the time. Even though it means being surounded by enthousiastic onlookers a lot of the time, it also offers moments of privacy and peacefulness that just cannot be had on public transport.
As Gangotri is a Hindu pilgrimage centre, where the mountain stream springs that forms the Holy river 'mother' Ganga, our travelling companions on the local bus for the last 250 kilometers towards 3200 metere height, were Indian families visiting this special place of religious significance in an atmosphere reminiscent of a day out for a picknick. Others taking the trail towards the source of the Ganges are the Sadhu's, who pull out of the everyday material world to get closer to God.Â… We joined them in the ashram that offers them a place to stay when we trekked into the mountains. We walked over an ancient glacier and scrambled up the steep slope of Tabovan to admire the pointy peaks of the Shivling (6543 m.) and Bhagirathi (6856 m.) summits.
From Bangalore we went back onto the road, heading North to Hampi, to visit ancient ruins and witness the remnants of an old kingdom. We stayed on the smaller roads and were surprised by the scale of the changes in the landscape around us. The first day offered idyllic roads like we had come to appreciate. Row upon row of healthy full grown trees stand alongside the tarmac, recently harvested fields behind them. In some places the crop of grain was spread out over several meters of the road surface for it to get crushed by passing trucks or busses. The kernels that come loose in the process are sweeped together after each crushing. New answers to old questions, the road surface and traffic take on non-intended functions in these rural areas.
A bit further on the road, around Belary, a major mining town in the regions, the fields were gone, around us we found mostly wasteland. Around noon we stopped for lunch in a lively small town. As soon as we left the town again we were amid banana and papaya orchards. Later, warm brown boulders form gentle mountains topped with small silhouettes of the remnants of old buildings. The river makes Hampi a lush and green place with a magical quality.