Forget about Carmen Beach or Tijuana, come to Rishikesh, India Part 1
Are you a yoga lover? Are you a fan of Shiva? Do you love to experience extreme adventures with old friends? Or perhaps new ones..? Would you like to experience a new kind of high? One that comes from within, one that doesn't need any aid from alcohol or other alternatives. If your answer is a big NO, then stop reading and book your tickets for Carmen Beach or Tijuana! Be assured, they have sexiest girls and coolest guys too, so there's something for everyone. However, if you're looking for something more spiritual and relaxing and if you want to experience the beauty of the Himalayas along the banks of tranquil Ganga, Rishikesh -Yoga Capital of the World is just the place for you.
For the longest time, I was under the impression that meditation is just a fancy and somewhat pretentious activity. I never understood the appeal of meditation and how it would make someone a different person altogether. But my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to give it a real try. Meditation hasn't made me a different person, it hasn't cured my becoming into this world. I never saw the light that shines bright when you achieve nirvana. But I was stunned as it took my mind to a brand new macrocosm where everything seemed so peaceful and tranquil. I am still a novice, though, and I have a lot to learn. Back in March, I was scrolling through my Instagram feeds when I came across the International Yoga Festival going on in the spiritual and capital of the Yoga World - Rishikesh, India. I made it a goal to go there and experience it.
“Some don't able to make a chill in their life as they fear to make new experiences”
Rishikesh is a beautiful city located in the lap of serene Himalayas. You'll realize how special this place is the moment you step out of the ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminal) Rishikesh as the distant chants of Har Har Gange and Om Namah Shivay dive deep inside of you and begin the tender process of cleansing your body and soul. While enjoying the fresh, crisp air, I made my way to Rishikesh-Badrinath Highway, Tapovan. Because I was traveling solo, I decided to keep travel budget-friendly as possible, and the easiest way to do that is to opt for a hostel. Hence I decided to opt for the most basic dorm room at Zostel.
Money Spent: INR 349/- per night.
After resting for about an hour, I couldn't resist going out and exploring the beauty of the city. I grabbed the love of my life and went out to drown in the electric vibes of Rishikesh. Hold up... I guess I forgot to mention my girlfriend. It's my camera: the love of my life. She sees and perceives things I may never be able to see on my own. That's why she is the most essential part of my trip. I strolled the markets leisurely because I wanted to experience what it feels like to be part of this place. I had a delicious quick lunch at Madras Cafe, where I practically inhaled Masala Dosa with North Indian Thali and Masala Tea. Money Spent: INR 95/- per person (approx.) as total bill was around 380/- divided into 4.
Post lunch, I visited the two most famous landmarks of the city: Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula. The two magnificent bridges rest on the banks of the holy river Ganga. They give a panoramic view of the city and far and wide beyond it. Unfortunately, Laxman Jhula had to be shut down as the structure has weakened due to high footfall and old age over the years. Laxman Jhula is considered a significant landmark, as it was built precisely where Lakshman, brother of Lord Rama, crossed the river on jute ropes. It is around 81 years old. However, just sitting along the banks of the river, my legs dipped in the freshwater, the tingling sensation of cold water running between my toes and the melodious sound of the river made me appreciate the beauty of this city even more.
Later that evening, I decided to head to Goa. Yeah, I'm not getting off-track here. Rishikesh hides an incredible miniature version of Goa, which is also called Goa beach. You can experience the laid back, relaxing Goa vibes, just chill out with your friends or even go and make some new ones! You can bring that one book you always wanted to read, have that long due heart to heart with your friends or just be at peace with yourself and join others in yoga! Magic surrounds you, and there is peace everywhere. That night I made a promise to myself to indulge more in yoga and perhaps get formal training at an ashram too!
Later that day, I made my way for the most exciting event of my trip, in my opinion: Ganga Aarti. Calling it a simple spiritual ritual would be inadequate to describe this special event. The Aarti takes place at the Shiv Ganga Aarti Sthal. Aarti in Hindu mythology is performed to develop the highest love for God. Ginormous lamps are lit with fire, and the priests perform the Aarti while facing the river, chanting songs in praise of Ganga Maiya. The most beautiful part is how, for that bit of time, hundreds of people come together to show their devotion to Ganga Maiya. They cup their hands over the bright flames and raise their palms to their forehead to get the Ganga's blessings as it is believed that lamps acquire the power of the Goddess. The intense spiritual energy in the surroundings is palpable. Soaking up those positive vibes made me see the magic of Rishikesh.
For dinner, I decided to visit one of the oldest restaurants named: Chothiwala. I was pretty excited to try this because it was especially suggested to me by my grandma. She lived near Rishikesh 25 years ago, and the family used to frequent this place quite often. As they say:
"Your elders are your best teachers after your experiences."
Money spent:- INR 190/- per person (approx.) as total bill was around 760/- divided into 4 persons.
This was all about how I spent my first day in Rishikesh. Stay tuned for more adventurous experiences that will be coming soon in the second part. Also, tell me about the parts that you liked the most. I would also like to know about your experiences if you already visited here in the comment section below.
Hasta La Vista!
Reviewed by Stuti Saran