Today is the World Yoga day which is celebrated all over the world. and it is Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, India which is known as the Yoga capital of the world. The holy town of Rishikesh is famous world over for the International Yoga Festival held annually at Parmarth Ashram.
It was last year November when i visited Rishikesh.
The weather was very pleasant, not too hot nor too cold. It was cool summer morning that i drove my car from Delhi to Haridwar. It took about 7 hours to reach Haridwar by road.
After spending two days in Haridwar by the bank of the river Ganges, I left for Rishikesh. Its an hour drive from Haridwar, jungle and farms on both sides of the road makes your drive all the more interesting. You can find people selling their farm produce by the side of the road.
As you enter Rishikesh town, it feels a bit crowded and haphazard but the moment the holy Ganges is visible by the side of the road after crossing the main town on the Badrinath road, the overall psyche changes. There is a feeling of calmness and immense peace on watching the river flow.
The river at Rishikesh is clear clean and wide as after rolling from the mountains, this is the first town it reaches before even reaching Haridwar. After leaving the vehicle at the parking by the side of the road, one has to cross the river to reach the main happening place in Rishikesh. There are two famous cantilever bridges, the Ram Jhula And the Laxman Jhula to get on the other side of the river. One also has the option of taking a shared boat to cross the beautiful river.
In-spite of accommodation available on the hill side, I preferred to stay by the river side across Laxman Jhula. Most of the travelers prefer this side of the town for the peacefulness it offers and the happenings at the ashrams situated in the vicinity. One can easily walk down in the evening to Parmarth Ashram to attend the evening prayer “aarti” which is worth attending if you happen to be in Rishikesh.
After attending evening aarti at the Parmarth Ashram, I enjoyed the simple Prasadam, (feast/ dinner) at the ashram dinning hall.
The next morning i had a typical indian traditional breakfast at Geeta Bhawan nearby and headed for hike towards Maharishi Mahesg Yogi’s Ashram which is only 20 minutes walk from the Parmarth ashram. Although today the ashram is in a sheer neglected state but it was in the news recently that government of India is planning to develop and restore it.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was among the pioneers who introduced yoga to the western world. The ashram though abondoned now, was visited by famous personalities from east as well as the west during the good old days. The most prominent of the disciples of Mahesh Yogi were The Beatles, who came in the late sixties to learn Transcendental Meditation. Interestingly it was the most productive period for the band members as they have confessed many times in media.
You can find many small dome shaped structures which were actually meditation holes for the seekers.
Though Rishikesh can be visited throughout the year, the month of May-June are quite hot and December- January too cold. The weather is pleasant during other times especially after the rainy season in August and September.
Places of interest:
Parmarth Niketan ashram
The Maharishi Mahesh Ashram
The Geeta Bhawan
Rishikesh is easily accessible from New Delhi by road as well as train in about 6-8 hours
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