Arriving in Rishikesh was definitely a change of pace from Delhi. I had Rishikesh on my list of must visit. I was always intrigued with the fact that they are considered the yoga and meditation capital of the world! It is a spiritual city surrounded by the holy waters of the Ganges River. Alcohol and beef are banned and cows have the right of way. I have practiced yoga in Toronto on and off for over ten years. I am in no way advanced as it is more of a casual thing for me. I also have been looking to cut down both my alcohol and meat consumption, which is quite difficult growing up with Argentine background and I just love them both so much! But just like all challenges, I wanted to expose myself to this way of living and dive in!
When we arrived to our hotel (Hotel Dewa Retreat), we had a perfect view of the foothills of the Himalayas. The air drastically changed – it was more fresh and there was much less smog in the air. The corner of our hotel had an organic café serving a daily variety of juices, teas, foods (cooked and raw). I found it clever that the items on the menu were named based on the symptoms you had or if you were looking for a specific result. For example Menstrual Cramps Tea, Detox Juice, Energy Boost, Gut Aid, etc. The place was swarming with professional looking yogis and gurus, which was quite inspiring, but also intimidating at the same time. Many of them were students who were studying since Rishikesh is also known for some of the best Yoga schools and teachers in the world. After people watching and gazing at our beautiful view of the Himalayas we decided to take a walk and explore the town.
We walked through narrow and winding roads with no sidewalks, up and down hills, where we saw tuktuks, locals, food and juice stands, aruyvedic shops, yoga studios and much more! There were not many Western tourists, many were Indian tourists. We learned quickly that cows have the right of way since they are a sacred animal in the Hindu religion, people were even feeding them – so I jumped right in of course!
We got to the famous and very narrow bridge called Laxman Jhula, which allows you to cross the Ganges river. This was quite the experience! The bridge was so narrow, motorbikes, scooters, people and cows all trying to cross at the same time. Top that off with scorching 30 degrees weather and being constantly stopped by locals to take a photos with them. Side note: this was a common occurrence while in India, they are fascinated by Westerners as not many of them travel to India and they associate them with celebrities they see on television or movies. After stopping to give the right of way to the cows, scooters almost running over your foot and taking pics with locals (and taking a selfie) we finally made our way across. The highlight of this bridge is the chaos that is so unique, while also getting stunning views of Laksham Temple and the Ganges River!
Stepping into the Ganges River
We heard that the Ganges river is so polluted and to not to step into it. But the river looked so beautiful and heard that as polluted as it may be, it is still holy and purifies. I know, sounds contradictory. Seeing lots of local people going into the waters we decided to just put our feet in; we came so far, so why not? We found a spot down by the riverside with beautiful rocks and a stunning view of the Laksham Temple. We dunked our feet in, the water was cool and clear blue. We came out with all toes intact! 😊. We took some pics and then just sat and enjoyed the stunning views.
We signed up at Osho Mystery Meditation School for a class in active meditation, a style I have never tried before. It advocates movement followed by silence. It was a created by Osho who is Indian and he is adored there. He advocated around 100 meditation techniques and believes that meditation should involve physical activity. Both Mario and I really enjoyed this class and found it very beneficial for releasing tensions, anxieties, an uncertainties, while calming the mind at the same time through dancing, silence and breathing techniques. We laughed a bit through some parts and I also cried a little, but that’s part of it! I highly recommend it and make sure to let it all go.
Presence of the Beatles
We heard about the beatles café which was placed in the heart of Rishikesh. They opened up this café after the Beatles visited Rishikesh in the 60s to practice yoga and meditation. In the few weeks they were here, they also wrote over 15 songs with beautiful sounds of the sitar. Unfortunately, we ended up getting to the cafe on the one day they were closed, so we popped into the cafe closeby called Shambala Café. We were not disappointed! How could we when we had a stunning view overlooking the Ganges River. Sitting on the floor in a hippie setting we ordered a tofu curry dish and Dal Tadka which is basically incredible lentils with cumin rice.
To be continued….Thanks for reading ! Until next time,