We finally made it...to Rishikesh and Haridwar after 32 hours of difficult travel time due flight delays caused by weather conditions. I would have been very disappointed if we would have had to forego this part of the trip as these were both places I had never been to before, in addition, my friend Shiv, highly recommended we visit this area. With very little sleep and food the Group of Seven (Aldona, Ann, Cathy, Margo, Mike and I) dropped the luggage at the hotel and started our India experience. Located near the foot of the Himalayas, Rishikesk, is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, it is famous for its various shrines and yoga ashrams. Our first stop of the day in Rishikesk was the Bharat Mandir temple and the Treveni Ghat, the convergence of three rivers the Ganges, Yuumuna and the Sarsvati and three mountains. Travelling next to Haridwar, the city is also considered as a ‘holy city’ and is vegetarian. The name Haridwar means "Gateway to God" and is considered one of the most important spots in the Hindu religion. Driving alongside the Ganges River, we stopped to see the India's largest Lord Shiva statue. This morning we also visited Shanti Kunj, the largest Ashram in Haridwar, the Pawan Dham or Glass Magic temple that was magnificent, Jairam Ashram and the Daksh Prajapati temple complex. Following a local Indian lunch and were off to the Maya Devi temple and then a rickshaw ride through the busy streets and markets of Haridwar to the cable car ride to the Mansa Devi temple. The temple is located atop the Bilwa Parvat on the Sivalik Hills, the southernmost mountain chain of the Himalayas. We descended the mountain just in time to avoid a heavy rain and took shelter in a coffee shop waiting out the storm before attending the Ganga Aarti at the Har-ki-Pairi Ghat sunset ceremony. It was a nightmarish trip to get here but it was all worth it in the end...India never ceases to amaze me….. This is part 1 of a 3 part blog.