If you’ve been practicing yoga or meditation for any period of time, perhaps you have been dreaming about traveling to the most significant land which is synonymous with this sacred eastern practice: India. This vast country consists of many different regions, each with their unique culture and history. You truly could spend a lifetime exploring this majestic continent. However, if you’re searching for an experience that’s more in line with your spiritual practices, Rishikesh is a great place to start.
Rishikesh, often dubbed as the yoga capital of the world has been the birth place and home to many great yoga masters, gurus and sages. Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas in the northern province of Dehradun it is also a holy town for Hindus and many travel here in search of higher spiritual knowledge. The town also embodies the yogic principle of non-violence, in that it is completely vegetarian. Furthermore, no alcohol is consumed in respect of the quest for higher levels of consciousness.
Legends state that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka; and Lakshmana, his younger brother, crossed the river Ganges, at a point, where the present 'Lakshman Jhula' bridge stands today, using a jute rope bridge. A similar bridge named Ram Jhula has also been built, and these two bridges play a major role in the architectural magic of the town. The sacred river Ganges flows through the town, and as Rishikesh is close to the source of the river, the water is fresh and glacial in its purity. Among many of the outdoor activities on offer in this region, white-water rafting on the Ganges is a thrilling and a memorable experience.
Another famous attraction is the now abandoned Beatles Ashram where the Beatles stayed in the 60’s while they were exploring and developing their own spiritual practice. Decorated with stunning murals, this abandoned ashram has become an eerily beautiful shrine to music, freedom and creative expression.
If you’re interested in practicing yoga, look no further than Rishikesh. The number of ashrams and yoga training centers have increased exponentially, which has resulted in this little town becoming a true hub for yoga lovers. While there are certainly some charlatans trying to make a quick buck, reputable schools usually have good websites and testimonials aren’t difficult to find. Your yoga needs will be fully catered to, whether you’re interested in a holistic course (which usually takes six weeks) or simply practicing yoga as you travel.
With yoga becoming a global phenomenon, Rishikesh is firmly in the spotlight. The energy of this beautiful town is simply indescribable by words and can only be felt. So, if a spiritual pilgrimage is what you’re after, Rishikesh is a must.