Day 5 - Oct 22nd, Friday. Badrinath to RishikeshThe gate to go down to Rishikesh opens at 6:30 but that was too early for us, so we decided to take the 8:30 opening. Had a quick breakfast, the usual puri and bhaji and set out. It was clear and warm with no clouds anywhere. When you are on the return trip, time always seems to pass by much faster. Within no time we went past Joshi Math. We were going down along the river, crossing one prayag after another. By now, we had gotten used to the road and situations that looked dangerous before were not as terryfying. Also, we had accomplished our main mission, so that anxiety was gone. We crossed that same spot near Srinagar, where we were stuck for an hour and half on the way in. On the way back too we had to wait there, they were clearing up some of the debris on the road. The land slide was still active but much more gentle. We waited about half an hour before crossing the spot. We stopped for lunch at a roadside dhaba, probably in Srinagar. For the five of us, the bill was only rupees 130, isn’t that amazing! This was the cheapest lunch of the trip. We stopped at the Devaprayag hotel too, the one where you get the wonderful view of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda giving birth to Ganga.
Time went by fast and soon it was dark and the sky was overcast. Very soon it started to rain, and then the force of the rain increased. Visibility was low and traffic was bad. This stretch of road - maybe the last 50 miles were not good. We were all wondering when we will get out of the mountains and get into Rishikesh. On the way there was a spot where the main road was stopped because of some accident, and the ingenuous drivers figured out a way to go around it. (If you are not constrained by the concept that you have to go only on the developed road, many options open up! This is true in life too, we are constrained by the imaginary lakshman rekha and dread to step out). Because of the heavy rain and lightning, some towns we passed through did not have any electricity and we travelled in the dark. Finally, we broke free of the mountains and came into normal (by our standards) civilization. It was such a relief to be back on regular roads. Rishikesh was very welcoming.
We did not have any hotel booked, so we decided to take a chance at Tapovan resort, the place we had mistakenly gone to on the way in. Luckily the place was available and the rates were good. The rooms were good too. It was still raining heavily with strong winds. We got rooms at two opposite ends of the hallway. Freshened up and went for dinner. The hotel had a nice restaurant, and the food was good. Had a leisurely dinner with limca and chai to top it off. It was the end of a long day. Went to sleep with the soothing sounds of rain and wind in the background.