Rishikesh has been a magnet for spiritual seekers. Today it styles itself as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, with masses of ashrams and all kinds of yoga and meditation classes. Most of this action is north of the main town, where the exquisite setting on the fast-flowing Ganges, surrounded by forested hills, is conducive to meditation and mind expansion.
In the evening, an almost supernatural breeze blows down the valley, setting temple bells ringing as sadhus (‘holy’ men), pilgrims and tourists prepare for the nightly Ganga aarti (river worship ceremony). You can learn to play the sitar or tabla; try Hasya yoga (laughter therapy), practise meditation or take a punt on crystal healing.
The riverside stretch is of great spiritual and religious importance and saints and yogis have been meditating on the banks of the Ganges since antiquity. Om Yoga Rishikesh has located just a 5-minute walk from the river.
Although Rishikesh is the self-styled “yoga capital of the world,” there’s lots more to do there than simply run through vinyasas mouthing “Om Shanti.”
Experience ashram life
- Rishikesh boasts one of the world’s largest clusters of ashrams, loosely defined as spiritual retreats. The process of bunking on site begins with a 5 a.m. call to mediation followed by a sunrise yoga class, and ends with more yoga, chanting, lectures and group meals.
- The more authentic ashrams, like the picturesque Parmarth Niketan — host to the International Yoga Festival coming up in March — offer basic shared rooms without internet for as little as $12.
- Heating and hot water can be inconsistent, however, which is worth bearing in mind between November and February.
- Ashrams tend to be either yoga-centric, like the massive Sivananda ashram, or geared more to mediation like Osho Gangadham and Ved Niketan Dham. The more upscale Yog Niketan provides luxurious river views and a spa at a premium.
- Most ashrams allow drop-ins, something ideal for those who value satellite TV, Wi-Fi and room service from the comfort of nearby accommodation, like Hotel Yog Vashishth.
Rishikesh:-Besides yoga practice, Rishikesh offers many activities such as rafting, mountain trekking to the nearby waterfalls, shopping, ayurvedic cafes and treatments. The city is conveniently connected by road, train and air. Nearest train station from Delhi is Haridwar (20 Km from Rishikesh) and the nearest airport is Dehradun (20 Km from Rishikesh). There are daily bus connections between Delhi and Rishikesh.