My Indian adventure has began in Delhi, as for the most travellers 🙂 I have to admit that I was feeling a bit anxious about my first encounter with this fascinating country. And even though my arrival to the city centre in the middle of the night went surprisingly smoothly (I managed to avoid the famous Delhi Airport scams), it did overwhelm me. Delhi is a particular place, it’s definitely not for everyone and even though I’ve travelled a bit already, after spending 3 days in this crazy city I was extremely happy and relieved to jump on a night bus to my next destination!
Rishikesh – a holy place, ‘yoga capital of the world’, it goes under different names. It is certainly special and I was very happy with the idea of spending some time there. My excitement might have been caused by the contrast I’ve experienced after hectic Delhi. Rishikesh (or at least the area where all the tourists stay) suddenly seemed like a peaceful and friendly place. I was pleased to see many women on the streets, the locals were friendly and smiley. I instantly felt at home.
The history of Rishikesh is rich with numerous legends, one of them says that Lord Rama performed penance on the banks of the Holy River Ganges and as a reward Lord Vishnu – one of the Hindu Gods appeared to him in his incarnation of Lord Hrishikesh, hence the city’s name. Rishikesh has been a pilgrimage destination to Hindus for centuries and you could actually feel it is a holy place. The beautiful temples, ashrams, devotees and Ganga ceremony performed at the bank of the river each evening gave it a magical feel.
From the westener perspective it is a spiritual heaven: the ubiquitous yoga and meditation classes, ayurverda treatments, wakening chakras, reiki healings… you name it! No wonder it feels that there are more tourists than locals! Regardless of the commercialism that sneaked into the city along with all the tourists, I enjoyed my time there. After all I went there to learn yoga and I couldn’t think of a better place to do it.
But as it turned out Rishikesh has way more to offer than yogis would think, it looks like it has become an adventure hub as well. You can go rafting in the Ganges, go bungee jumping, rock climbing and since the city is located at the foot of the Himalayas you should definitely go hiking!
If the above doesn’t appeal to you maybe the mesmerising views will. The combination of fast flowing river and forest hills surrounding it creates a panorama that you’ll never get bored of! In between yoga classes and water rafting people chill at the cafes with a river view, you can even order famous chai tea with soya milk! Veganism in not common in India so that was a nice surprise (and an obvious result of tourism inflow).
There was 1 thing that bothered me a bit during my stay there. We all know that cows are the holy animals in India however it did not feel that they were being treated appropriately. They basically lived on the streets and ate leftovers and rubbish. I can’t speak for the cows but it seemed to me that they’d prefer to chill somewhere on the grass. The problem is that once the cows become a burden to their owners they’re abandoned and end up wandering the streets. They often looked sick and malnourished, I’d see sometimes the locals feeding them but it wasn’t an everyday thing. Snacking while walking in Rishikesh is a challenge as the cows will instantly want you to share the food with them! While on topic about animals, I was pleasantly surprise to find very calm stray dogs here. I’ve been used to vicious and quite dangerous dogs that I’ve encountered in South East Asian countries, in Rishikesh (and other northern parts I’ve been to) they’re peaceful, friendly and really pretty 🙂
Here are some more photos from my time in Rishikesh: