Today I sat trying to knuckle down and get on with my university work, but could only think of one thing…Rishikesh. I could only think that if there was one place I could be right now it would be Rishikesh. I thought of how hilarious and enjoyable almost every moment there was. I say almost because there is nowhere in India – or the world for that matter – where every moment of being there is amazing. There are always the less enjoyable moments of every trip. But in Rishikesh these moments are far and few between.
My first yoga experience was in Rishikesh on the rooftop of our hostel ‘Bunk Stay’. I had never done Yoga before at this point but knew I had to try whilst I was in India. My friends and I woke up at a painful 6am to join the class, minus one of us, who made a deep moaning sound when I tried to wake her. I took this as a ‘no’ to Yoga class. It was definitely worth the 6am start though, because now I love Yoga and have two classes a week. It really is the most peaceful, relaxing form of exercise there is.
So there I was, on the roof of a building, with a stunning view of Rishikesh, the sound of birds tweeting, cows mooing, and the heat on my back. I was only a few days into my Indian adventure but I already loved it in a different way to anywhere else I have been in the world. India really is nothing like travelling through Thailand or Indonesia. It’s not all relaxing on serene beaches and drinking cocktails. No. It is chaos, and noise and much more exciting. Oh, and in Rishikesh…there is a no alcohol law. India is a very religious country, and in holy cities like this, there is no alcohol allowed.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. My two favourite places in India were holy cities, in fact. Rishikesh being one, of course. Not only is this city beautiful, but it is full of activities to take part in and interesting places to see. It is famous for its white water rafting which I myself didn’t take part in, because I made the mistake of getting a piercing just before travelling to India, which I didn’t want to get infected from the water. We did however, jump on the back of our Indian friends Peds and ride through the tree’s of the Himalayas, alongside the Ganges which were reflecting the sun, all the way up to Shivpuri Beach! Here we splashed around in the Ganges, and got our first chance to sunbathe in India. This place is amazing and I really recommend going if you’re visiting Rishikesh. It is surrounded by mountains and tree’s, and you can see monkeys drinking the water on the other side of the river. This is the quietest place I found in India, and a for a few scorching, sweaty hours, we sat on the sparkling beach and soaked up the silence. Unfortunately, my friends biker got lost trying to find the beach and so she was lost in the Himalayas with man she barely knew for a few hours but she returned eventually, safe and sound. Although her driver was a little offended by how upset/afraid she was. Oh well.
One other place I would definitely recommend visiting in Rishikesh is The Beatles Ashram. During the later years of the swinging sixties, when travelling first became fashionable, The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, India, to take part in transcendental meditation training at the ashram of Maharishi Manesh Yogi; now known as The Beatles Ashram. It was here that they wrote the White Album and two songs which appeared in the Abbey Road album. This ashram is no longer used and is very much run down, but it was interesting to see and learn about the bands time here and take a look at where they stayed, meditated and made music together. You will find lots of amazing graffiti here, which might be of special interest to you if you’re interested in art. Their hut stands out from the rest though as it is absolutely covered is bright colours as shown in my pictures.
The most memorable part of my time in Rishikesh is meeting a lovely man who calls himself ‘Mr Fantastic’. After a lovely day at the local waterfalls – ruined by a creepy man who we literally had to run away from down a rocky hill – me and my friend decided to nip out for some snacks. During this time we came across the most amazing character ‘Mr fantastic’, who is literally the happiest man I have ever met. We invested in some crisps at his store, said thank you, and were about to set off back when he shouted “FANTASTIC” and continued to burst into song! I am going to post my own video on here of him and some links to YouTube that other people have put on of him. At one point he whipped out a book full of photographs, postcards, and letters that other travellers like myself have sent him. Clearly it was just us that adored this happy happy man.
Rishikesh isn’t exactly off the beaten track, but it is somewhere I definitely recommend. It’s a beautiful city with lots of culture to dig your nose into. It has everything you need to have a good time minus alcohol of course. It has white water rafting, safaris, yoga schools, waterfalls, a beach, shopping, temples, and The Beatles Ashram! GO.
My top cheap places to visit in Rishikesh
- Stay at Bunk Stay! It is cheap, good value for money, the staff are amazing and take you on exciting adventures! They have a café upstairs with amazing food and milkshakes. And sing-alongs at night.
- Royal Café – We heard that Buddha Café was the best place to go for food in Rishikesh, but it’s not. Royal café is cheaper, nicer food, nicer service, and has a better atmosphere! Try them both and see what you like but I would definitely recommend Royal Café.
- Do lots of shopping here, because its much cheaper than down south, and in my opinion it was much nicer, and there is more of it!
- For a cheap meal or snack, make sure you visit the German Bakery!
- Another place we loved to eat in Rishikesh was café Karma! Also very cheap.
Read my post on Varanasi. India’s holy city!