Rishikesh – a holy place

My Indian adventure has began in Delhi, as for the most travellers 🙂 I have to admit that I was feeling a bit anxious about my first encounter with this fascinating country. And even though my arrival to the city centre in the middle of the night went surprisingly smoothly (I managed to avoid the famous Delhi Airport scams), it did overwhelm me. Delhi is a particular place, it’s definitely not for everyone and even though I’ve travelled a bit already, after spending 3 days in this crazy city I was extremely happy and relieved to jump on a night bus to my next destination!

Rishikesh – a holy place, ‘yoga capital of the world’, it goes under different names. It is certainly special and I was very happy with the idea of spending some time there. My excitement might have been caused by the contrast I’ve experienced after hectic Delhi. Rishikesh (or at least the area where all the tourists stay) suddenly seemed like a peaceful and friendly place. I was pleased to see many women on the streets, the locals were friendly and smiley. I instantly felt at home.

 

DSC00512
Rishikesh icon – Laxman Jhula Bridge, it’s a challenge to cross, it’s full of motorbikes, chilling cows, hyper active monkeys  and dozens of people taking selfies 🙂

The history of Rishikesh is rich with numerous legends, one of them says that Lord Rama performed penance on the banks of the Holy River Ganges and as a reward Lord Vishnu – one of the Hindu Gods appeared to him in his incarnation of Lord Hrishikesh, hence the city’s name. Rishikesh has been a pilgrimage destination to Hindus for centuries and you could actually feel it is a holy place. The beautiful temples, ashrams, devotees and Ganga ceremony performed at the bank of the river each evening gave it a magical feel.

DSC00929

DSC00545
Ganga Aarti ceremony – a spiritual ritual performed by the the holy river each evening, a truly moving experience.

From the westener perspective it is a spiritual heaven: the ubiquitous yoga and meditation classes, ayurverda treatments, wakening chakras, reiki healings… you name it! No wonder it feels that there are more tourists than locals! Regardless of the commercialism that sneaked into the city along with all the tourists, I enjoyed my time there. After all I went there to learn yoga and I couldn’t think of a better place to do it.

DSC00578
Sunrise yoga with a view, not bad ha? 🙂

But as it turned out Rishikesh has way more to offer than yogis would think, it looks like it has become an adventure hub as well. You can go rafting in the Ganges, go bungee jumping, rock climbing and since the city is located at the foot of the Himalayas you should definitely go hiking!

IMG-20170921-WA0003
Never thought I’d enjoy rafting but as it turned out it was a lot of fun!
IMG-20170922-WA0009
The water was freezing cold!

If the above doesn’t appeal to you maybe the mesmerising views will. The combination of fast flowing river and forest hills surrounding it creates a panorama that you’ll never get bored of! In between yoga classes and water rafting people chill at the cafes with a river view, you can even order famous chai tea with soya milk! Veganism in not common in India so that was a nice surprise (and an obvious result of tourism inflow).

DSC00599
Another way to enjoy the Laxman Jhula Bridge – while chilling in a cafe 🙂

There was 1 thing that bothered me a bit during my stay there. We all know that cows are the holy animals in India however it did not feel that they were being treated appropriately. They basically lived on the streets and ate leftovers and rubbish. I can’t speak for the cows but it seemed to me that they’d prefer to chill somewhere on the grass. The problem is that once the cows become a burden to their owners they’re abandoned and end up wandering the streets. They often looked sick and malnourished, I’d see sometimes the locals feeding them but it wasn’t an everyday thing. Snacking while walking in Rishikesh is a challenge as the cows will instantly want you to share the food with them! While on topic about animals, I was pleasantly surprise to find very calm stray dogs here. I’ve been used to vicious and quite dangerous dogs that I’ve encountered in South East Asian countries, in Rishikesh (and other northern parts I’ve been to) they’re peaceful, friendly and really pretty 🙂

IMG_20170924_152301
Sorry ladies, may I pass through? 😉

Here are some more photos from my time in Rishikesh:

DSC00513
Famous Trayambakeshwar Temple, quite impressive!
DSC00518
From each corner there is different view of the Ganga, one more beautiful than the other.
DSC00530
Mesmerising sunsets…
DSC00532
And some more views
DSC00946
We performed our own Ganga ceremony 🙂
DSC01007
Celebrating Diwali!
DSC00979
Diwali, festival of lights.
DSC01008
Trying to get home during the celebrations wasn’t easy, the kids were playing with fireworks on each corner!
DSC00620
Bull fight… just another evening on the streets of India 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s