During two full months of my Indian adventure, Rishikesh was one of the only places that I felt comfortable. When I posted ‘I’m Having a Hard Time in India’, people who’ve previously been to India strongly suggested me to go to Rishikesh to rest for a while. After coming back from Varanasi – Bodh Gaya – Kolkatta trip, I choose to live in Rishikesh for a while, thinking ‘There’s got to be a reason why everyone says I should go’, and there was.
As I expressed my difficulties I was having in India, I needed some quiet time to detach myself from the environment. Rishikesh has been the perfect place. Down near the river is still hectic with hustle and bustle of the town, but I found my peace at High Bank. There are wide range of guesthouses, from simple rooms to luxury suites. The simple corner room I stayed was only 300 Rs per night.
This was quite a retreat to getaway from sound of the traffic. Only sound I hear on regular basis is from birds, monkeys, dogs, and cows.
Thali is great, I had so much joy with it, but it gets tiring after having it for one month straight (two or three times a day). The choice of side dishes are not limited, and special or deluxe thali also loosing their charm after ten or so times. I was craving for some other kind of food (it was also the very first time I was missing Korean cuisine), and then I landed Rishikesh.
I stayed at High Bank in Rishikesh. There are many restaurants (most of them are named German or Swiss) with a wide selection. Surprisingly, the foreign cuisine here is actually pretty good. Most of them have similar menu, contains rosty breakfast, shakshuka, French fries, pizza, and burger. The margarita pizza I had was one of the most delicious pizza outside of the US and Italy (seriously), and their vegeburgers are quite awesome.
Rishikesh is the yoga central in the world. Every other person I met here were training to be a yoga instructor, or practicing yoga quite seriously. I’m neither, but like to practice yoga (nearly) everyday. There are numerous yoga centers and ashrams all over city as well as daily classes in guesthouses. It is a common belief that the meditation in Rishikesh will bring you one closer to attainment of moksha (the liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth), as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it.
I went to three different classes: one right near my guesthouse taught by a local Indian teacher, a class with American-Chinese (my rough guess) teacher, and one with an authentic Indian yogi. The classes are between 150 – 200 Rs (for one class). To be honest, yoga isn’t my favorite activities. I would choose many others before yoga as my workout, but I understand the benefit of practicing. I’ve tried it several times with different instructors. Meditating is supposed to be good for our mental heath, and yoga is a good way to find the peace.
The holy river, the Ganges (Ganga), is one of the reasons why Rishikesh is special. This has a different vibe than another holy city, Varanasi. Rishikesh is more relaxed than Varanasi (remember the burning ghat?), and the river is much cleaner due to proximity to the source up in the Himalayas. The water was quite rough from the heavy flooding a few weeks ago.