The power of Omm
22.04.2010 - 26.04.2010 38 °C
Perched on the banks of the river Ganga, still fresh from it's glacial origins, Rishikesh has been famous for yoga since the Beatles visited an Ashram here in the 60s. I've tried quite a few yoga classes back home and have never really been able to get into it but the classes we tried here were amazing. Whether it's the teaching, the setting, or if we just got lucky, I'm note sure but I'll definitely be buying a yoga mat when I return.
Rishikesh isn't just about yoga though: it's a popular place to try rafting and an important pilgrimage for many Hindus for whom the Ganga river has an important spiritual significance. Sunset is a magical time here, when you can watch worshippers set burning wildflowers adrift down the Ganga amidst traditional chanting and bell-clanging.
Oh, and if you're a westerner. be prepared to have your photo taken, a lot! Since we've been here we have had literally dozens of Indian families request a photo with us, a car slow down to take video footage of us, and another car stop so that the Indian ladies inside could shake our hands! A lovely reminder that I stick out like a big, pink. yellow haired thumb.
Where we stayed: [/b]
Swiss Bhandari Cottage - 250rs/night. Perched high up on the hill, a good twenty minute walk from town, this is a great budget option. The staff may be mono syllabic and sure, it's a walk to the action but with a cool breeze and wide verandas is a perfect spot to chill out and get away from it all - and it's dirt cheap.
Where to eat:
There are plenty of places to choose from. Nearly every restaurant here has a 'German bakery' near identical menus offering a combination of Indian and western fare. The Little Buddha Cafe has a roof terrace overlooking the Ganga. The food's hit and miss but it's worth it for ambience and location alone.
What to do:
There are literally dozens of yoga centres here, from beginner drop-in classes, to teacher training courses and month long retreats at one of the many Ashrams. Our favourite was actually the one organised at Swiss Bhandari cottage - a combination of Hatha and Ashtanga yoga, the class lasts an hour and a half.Reiki and Ayurverdic massage are also available and rafting is hugely popular.