There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can never express, yet cannot all conceal.
–George Gordon Byron, 1788 – 1824
In my last visit to Rishikesh, I decided to give water sports a miss and soak in the spirituality of the city. Visiting Rishikesh will not do any further justice until you have stayed in one of the Ashrams and have experienced the Sattvik life. Starting with, the city is spread along the holy Ganges River having two popular suspension bridges Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula. The fantastically blue-green water of the Ganges treats each one with warmth.
There are ample places to stay in Rishikesh, from hotels, to resorts to hostels. However, finding a shelter in an Ashram is divine as it opens up various opportunities like Yoga, Meditation, Body Therapies, Mind Healing and lot more. Most of the ashrams are located in the Swarg Ashram area, which is separated from the main town with the exquisite setting on the fast-flowing Ganges River, surrounded by forested hills.
In the evening, an almost supernatural breeze blows down the valley, setting temple bells ringing as sadhus, pilgrims and tourists prepare for the nightly Ganga aarti. Watching those tiny diyas floating in the river resembles numerous hopes and wishes from the supreme power.
I recommend staying at the Parmarth Niketan and experience ultimate peace and tranquillity. The ashram offers many activities which you can participate in. Outside the Niketan, you can take a tight, meandering walk through the paths that weave in and around open markets. The best part of the trip was to stand barefoot on the river bank and see the sunrise while tourists and Sadhus come out for yoga or meditation.
One of the popular places in Rishikesh among the travellers is the Beatles Ashram. This place was built by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, famous world over for his Transcendental Meditation methods, in the middle of nowhere. Well, the place gained worldwide fame as the legendary Beatles had visited the ashram and indulged into intensive meditation and yoga sessions. The time they spent here is widely believed to be one of the most productive periods for the band. Most of the songs of the best-selling albums The White Album and Abbey Road were written here. Despite the fame and glory of the ashram and its famous visitors, the place was closed in 1981 and now belongs to the government as it is located in the boundary of the Rajaji National Park. And that’s exactly what makes the place even more interesting; like a huge ghost of stone in ruins, beautifully blended with nature.
Coming to food, Rishikesh has few interesting cafes that serve vegan and yogi dishes. I tried Tat Café and Ganga View café, which turned out to be quite impressive. Tat café has a mesmerising view of the Ganges and is perfect to indulge into any meal of the day. I loved to come here for my breakfast and just sit for hours hearing the river whisper gently. Each meal they offer is pocket-friendly without compromising with the taste or quality. The yogi thali is a must try as it comes with assorted veggies, Tofu sauté, home-style dal and some multigrain breads.
In an age where we are trapped in digital asylums, I agree to belong from a spoiled, inconsiderate,the-world-revolves-around-us generation. At least once in your life, it’s important to leave behind all your material possessions and get in touch with the roots of nature and yourself, even if it happens to be just for a few days.