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Driving up to the banks of the Ganga

S Ronendra Singh | Updated on December 25, 2014 Published on December 25, 2014



A trip to Rishikesh in the Merc E-Class is a treat for the body and the mind

If there is one place where the river Ganga appears to be fresh and clean, it is in Rishikesh. This holy city in picturesque Uttarakhand is not just known for religious reasons, but also for adventure tourism, with high adrenaline activities such as bungee jumping, river rafting and trekking. Or, one can laze around the river bank, visit the nearby Rajaji National Park and enjoy camp fires at night.

Rishikesh is among the favourite spots for young professionals in Delhi seeking a break from their hectic lifestyles. So, when we got the chance to drive to the place, with the steering of the Mercedes E-class firmly in our grip, we just took off. The journey of around 230 kilometres from Delhi to Rishikesh on the Mercedes E350 CDI with dark-top and a panoramic sunroof, was as a smooth affair with clean roads and unhurried highway traffic.

With Merc's famous 7-speed gearbox paired to the three-litre, V6 engine, the car was more than adequately powered to tackle the highway traffic, and yet offered good mileage because of its ECO automatic start/stop function. We took off from Delhi at 5 in the evening with the idea of reaching Rishikesh by 10 at night with small breaks on NH58. We managed to hit the place well before time, thanks to, free flowing traffic, which is a bit of a rarity on this route.

With the winter breeze setting in, the weather was the icing on the cake, and what made the drive even more pleasant was the Harman Kardon sound system, a part of the 'in-car entertainment' package that is offered with the E350. The next morning we decided to go to Shivpuri, around 15 kilometres from Rishikesh city, the starting point for river rafting. Covering that short distance in the E-Class was another 'fun drive', negotiating the curved roads and ups and downs on the hilly section. This was an opportunity to get a feel of the car’s precise electronic steering.

We reached Shivpuri and checked into one of the camps situated on both sides of the river Ganges. Staying in these camps can cost anything from ₹1,500 per night up to ₹10,000 per night, including dinner, breakfast and rafting. While staying in these 'beach camps', one can enjoy a game of volley ball or just sit and relax on the banks of the river. The sound of the Ganga flowing in the silence of a moonlit night is mesmerising, as she makes her way through the rocks.

Electricity use was not allowed in these camps, but because of growing commercialisation this rule has been relaxed a bit with a post-dinner deadline, we were told. Anyway, surrounded by nature’s bounty and the warmth of the camp bonfire, one did not miss the lack of electricity till dawn set in. And the cherry on the cake was that our cell phones were switched off because of the lack of signal. Alas, such trips never last long!

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Published on December 25, 2014
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