Soulful Trip to Rishikesh
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of city life aggravated by the pandemic, I needed some break from the mundane life. Obligation towards work and other responsibilities – I just had a handful of days to travel. I was looking for a holiday to recharge and rejuvenate myself not just physically but soulfully, as well.
What better place can I think of – it has to be Rishikesh! Rishikesh is famous as the yoga capital, an ideal city for adventurous activities and spiritualism. Rishikesh is the place that dazzles and overwhelms visitors at the same time.
Rishikesh, in northern India’s Himalayan foothills, is known as one of the holiest cities in Hindu culture. The city is rich in mythology and offers meditation, yoga, and organic cuisine. For centuries, the city has drawn sages and monks seeking enlightenment. According to the Ramayana, it is here; that Lord Rama served his penance for killing Ravana.
I had only a handful of days to spend in Rishikesh – for which I had a clear sketched-out Rishikesh tour with all the experiences that I was looking forward to, including all the things to do and see in Rishikesh.
Things To Do & Places to Visit in Rishikesh:
To begin with – I was clear that I did not want to stay in any hotel – but to experience a stay at one of the ashrams in Rishikesh. A stay in an ashram – is to get close and feel the vibe of the town. There are a variety of ashrams to choose from, but the one I chose was Omkarananda Ashram in Rishikesh!
Omkarananda Ganga Sadan is a beautiful guest house at Omkarananda Ashram Himalayas. This ashram is located at Muni-Ki-Reti on the banks of the Ganga. It is around twenty km away from the Dehradun airport and just three km from the Rishikesh railway station. This guest house features the renowned Patanjali Yoga Center.
The ashram aids its guests to attain solace, peace, and tranquility through meditation, yoga, aartis, and spiritual talks. Iyengar Yoga is the most popular form of exercise in this area. The ashram performs aarti daily and conducts lectures on the Bhagavad Gita.
The ashram features basic rooms with clean and comfortable bedding. Rooms feature an air-conditioner, hot shower and geyser facilities, television, views of the Ganges, and friendly staff. While staying at this ashram – do not miss attending the yoga sessions. The ashram is close to Ram Jhulla, and one can easily get transportation to travel around the city.
The ashram also serves good quality pure Veg food, but you can also try it at the restaurants and cafes pinned near the ashram area. Staying in an ashram close to the river Ganga – is a different experience while you are in Rishikesh.
The main motive to travel to Rishikesh – was to feel the spiritual vibes of this place and attend the most renowned Ganga Aarti. It is a spiritual experience beyond words. Ganga Aarti is performed each day, in the evening when the sun sets – at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram and Triveni Ghats. It’s an occasion to warm the heart, nourish the soul, and bring the elements into balance.
The aarti at the Parmarth Ashram’s Ganga Ghat; is performed in the traditional manner that dates back to ancient times. The aarti; is preceded by a thirty-minute chanting of Vedic mantras and a small yagna to dispel negative energies.
The aarti sung by the Guru, bhajans hymned by other saffron-robed disciples, the fragrance of camphor and incense as it fills the air, the enchanting lights of countless diyas, the sound of the raging river, the setting sun reflected in the ripples of the flowing water, the intensity of the devotees as they sway in perfect harmony, all come together to create an enigmatic atmosphere of peace that takes over every sense and stays with you long after you leave Rishikesh.
Must Try Food in Rishikesh :
Talking about experiencing the local food items in Rishikesh – there are myriad options to try. Here the food and religion blend with each other. The streets lined with small shops and cafeterias are the best example of this. Whether you are looking out for organic vegetarian concoction or just simple desi street food, Rishikesh will not disappoint you. Before I write further – let me draw your attention to the fact that; Rishikesh is a meat and alcohol-free town – the consumption of non-veg and alcohol is not legal.
Especially the cafés in Rishikesh serve as a crossroads for both local and international visitors. To begin with Little Buddha Café – it is probably the most renowned café in town – the reason – the food is amazing at a reasonable cost, clubbed with phenomenal views of the Ganges. The best thing about this café is that it is suitable for everyone – whether; you are a solo traveler or a family.
The next in Line is the Beatles Café. Your Rishikesh tour is incomplete without a visit to Beatles Café. This cafe, which overlooks the magnificent Ganga, is a tribute to the Beatles, an English-Music band. From photographs of the Beatles to a massive wall panel covered in vinyl records, this cafe radiates an old-world charm unlike any other in Rishikesh. There are two other cafes that I had been to during my stay in the city – they are – Tattv Café and Sanskriti Café, both offer great views and tempting food.
Apart from the café, we also tried the local street-side stalls selling puchkas, momos, chats, freshly baked cookies, sugarcane juice, coconut water, local fruits, and many more food items. Do not miss out to experience the various food items being sold along the streets of Rishikesh.
With this short stay of two days – I did get a chance to experience at least one water sport activity – that is River rafting. One of the most popular adventure activites, River rafting entails a small group of adventure seekers navigating the Ganga River on an inflatable raft with paddles. River Rafting in Rishikesh is again one of the must-do things during your stay. Rishikesh tourism offers a plethora of operators who can arrange for good and reasonably priced river rafting packages. Rishikesh’s strategic location, rafting routes, and untamed water currents are all reasons why you should go river rafting there. Aside from river rafting, there are a variety of other adventure activities for you to try.
Rishikesh enchants its guests. The mystical environment, the rushing river, mountains, the shinning sun against the crisp winter air, the sadhus, yoga, and the Hindu mythology – all enchants you. It is a haven of peace. There is so much to imbibe and absorb here. Rishikesh has an aura about it that attracts you in. You are more at ease and content with yourself. This feeling will undoubtedly tempt me to return to Rishikesh for another vacation.