When we planned our trip to India, we thought we thought it’d be good to start from a ‘quiet’ place. That’s why we chose Rishikesh as a starting point for our adventure. We wanted to be able to gradually get used to the busy life in India and it’s been so great being in this beautiful place just below the Himalayas.
Rishikesh has definitely gone beyond our expectations. A friendly, vibrant and alive place where the Indian culture nicely welcomes and integrates the western one. Western people, who like us, are here mainly to explore the beautiful surroundings or practice some Yoga, chanting, and Indian music. The nature is beautiful, green forest and mountains surrounding the city and the Ganges river which has this incredible green colour that you can’t forget.
AIRBNB & ATM ADVENTURES
We arrive at our Airbnb Ixora Villa super tired at 8am in the morning after travelling from London to Delhi and Delhi to Dehradun, and Dehradun to Rishikesh. We soon discover that our stay is 15 km from the centre of Rishikesh and there are no tourists around, which makes us feel like we are living the real adventure. On the other hand, being so far from the centre is challenging. At midnight (when yes we are supposed to be in bed and not around exploring by ourselves!) it can be challenging to find ‘tuk tuks’ to bring you home and negotiations for a fair price can take longer than expected.
Moreover, in our neighbourhood and pretty much everywhere in Rishikesh, ATMs haven’t been working for us and as we didn’t have rupees with us, not having a working machine has definitely been a blocker. Let’s only say that we spent a good few hours over a couple of days looking for a a working ATM with cash.
You can breathe spirituality everywhere in Rishikesh. It blends well with the western world and bring magic to the town. Old men with long beards chanting for hours with their sitars and harmoniums. ‘OM NAMAH SHIVAYA’ in the background while walking down the main ghat. We love Rishikesh because it is very friendly and approachable but at the same time remains authentic to its core traditions.
The Ganges has so much charm. The vibrant green is so beautiful! The water is clean as close to the source and many people including tourists choose to bath in it.
THE BRIDGES: SHRI LAXMAN JHULA & RAM JHULA
The ‘famous’ bridges are so busy with people walking and motorbikes buzzing and tooting to get around them. There are plenty of people who want to take selfies with foreigners. There is always someone in front of you, who is taking a selfie and including you in the background. Quite funny to be honest and we’ve learned to pull a cheeky face.
The area around Ram Jhula is quieter than the ‘centre’ around Shri Laxman Jhula, but there are definitely more cafes and things to do around Shri Laxman Jhula so this area became our favourite.
We have a couple of meals at the Little Buddha Cafe (which is actually quite big), where the food and the views over the Ganga is really good but the service is fairly slow, which works for us because we are happy to slow our lives down. Despite the busy environment around us with the loud cars around and the crazy horns constantly in the background there is something very chilled about Rishikesh, something that fascinates us.
MUSIC & FRIENDS
In the area of Tomovan, we find a lovely music ashram where we take an harmonium class with an amazing teacher. We learn 2 mantras and Quentin and I manage to practice them during the 1 hour class. As you may know, music is a very important part of our lives and having the chance to learn and explore Indian music is just so inspiring and refreshing. There are plenty of music stores in Rishikesh. We end up in a very cool one where Leti loses herself looking at meditation bowls, harmoniums, and ends up buying a flute. In the store we meet a great couple, who’s been travelling from Switzerland to Australia by bike! We become friends straight away, so much in common! In the 3 days we spend in Rishikesh we have some amazing time together, chatting about our dreams of a life that brings together travels and remote work.
There are so many Yoga classes in Rishikesh that it is difficult to choose which one you want to attend. Yogis training to become teachers are everywhere and every corner has a sign offering any kind of style. If you are a Yogi like Leti, you know what we’re talking about. We choose to spend one day at the International Yoga Festival at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram. There are some good teachers and both Quentin and I enjoy the vibes and the adventure of waking up at 5 to join the second morning class (we couldn’t make it for the first class at 4am, jet leg too bad!). Some great teachings from both Kia Miller and Jules Febre (who was covering for Sharon Gannon, creator of Jivamukti), friendly people from all over the world, good food, an inspiring and moving talk about the connection between Yoga and Science. The only bad point: a very poor lesson about essentials oils with a very boring and ‘heavy’ teacher in the afternoon, who made us fall asleep!
There are definitely questions that arise within us. People like us paying to attend an international Yoga festival while outside of the ashram many people struggle to find food for themselves and their family. Inspiring talks to improve our lives and bring love to the ones around us and yet a sense of helplessness that we can’t help everyone around us. We definitely have many questions with no answers and many things that we would like to see differently.
FOOD & JUICES
Food is cheap and super tasty and most places claim to use mineral water which makes it easier for us to trust we’re minimising the chance of Delhi Belly! The best one is a little spot near the Ram Jhula where we had some amazing roti and dahl. A little bit heavy but so tasty! It's a new restaurant and we unfortunately don't remember the name of the restaurant but we'll try to dig it out.
MASSAGES & AYURVEDA
We had an amazing massage at the Sanskriti Spa, a more ‘luxurious’ place than others but everything seems super high quality. With an amazing view over the Ganga, the spa also has a delicious restaurant with Ayurveda food and tasty juices. Highly recommended!
More photos coming soon...