Rishikesh is one place in India where spirituality, yoga and westernised way of life can be found in perfect sync, and maybe that’s why it is one of my favourite places.
This cozy little religious place in Uttarakhand in Northern India is also known as the yoga capital of the world. People from around the world come to Rishikesh to learn yoga from the numerous Yoga gurus in their respective ashrams. This place even hosts an annual International Yoga Festival, which I unfortunately missed this year because I was in Mumbai.
I live just a couple of hours away from Rishikesh and Haridwar, two cities where devotees from the entire country come to pray in temples and take a holy dip in the river Ganga. I personally prefer Rishikesh over Haridwar, because it is cleaner and less crowded.
Ram Jhula is a bridge which connects the Ghats on Ganga’s banks, where daily aarti (prayer) is a regular feature. I however love the area around Laxman Jhula (above in pic), which is another narrow bridge in a very serene locality of Rishikesh. Cafe Freedom, or Cafe Ganga as it was previously known, is one place where I always have my meals. It is an open restuarant where you sit down (not on chairs) and relax against the cushion to enjoy a breath-taking view of this mighty river.
I’ll be honest, the food is not that great there, it’s just the view and the peacefulness it brings to my mind that are reasons enough for me to go back there again. I can sit there for hours, watching foreigners talk among themselves about spirituality (in strange languages thankfully) and Indians on the other hand enjoying a good stint of rafting.
Rishikesh is easily accessible by road from Delhi. You can either hire a private cab which should cost you something between 3,000 to 4,000 rupees, or a bus from Delhi’s ISBT, which shouldn’t cost you more than 700 rupees.
It is about an hour-long drive away from Haridwar, so you can take a train from Delhi to Haridwar (check http://www.irctc.co.in) and then take a bus to Rishikesh.
Or you can simply take a flight from Delhi to Dehradun’s Jolly Grant airport, which is closer to Rishikesh than it is to Dehradun!