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Exploring Rishikesh, India May 18, 2018

Exploring Rishikesh, India

Location: Raahi The Travelers Nest (hostel), Tapovan (village), Tehri Garhwal (district), Rishikesh (city), Uttarakhand (state), India

Rishikesh or Bust
After 5 days in Paharganj, New Delhi, it was sensory overload. I had to leave. Since I didn't receive any reply from my application to serve at a Vipassana course in Rohtak, it also forfeited my planned visit to Veer, my yoga teacher in Cebu who now resides in Rohtak. Where to go now? Rishikesh up north, which in my yogini friend's parlance is Yoga Disneyland? Or to go east to Agra and see the Taj Mahal? Both were equidistant. Rishikesh excited me a little more than Agra. With that, I booked my bus and hostel stay. Again, I don't know anything about Rishikesh but I'm curious what's in store for me.

Getting To Rishikesh
Instead of heading to the bus station when I'm already carrying my heavy load, asking directions, getting lost and finding my bearing, I thought it best to go to the station first, without my load, get familiar with the place and buy my ticket, INR 454. The station wasn't too far away anyway. This assured me that my departure would be smooth. The bus left close to 11pm and arrived Rishikesh 5am the following day - I saved the cost of one day's lodging.

Raahi The Travelers NestRaahi The Travelers Nest
I paid the moto-rickshaw INR 150 from the Adarsh Gram terminal to my hostel, Raahi The Traveler's Nest since I couldn't find anyone to share with. It should have been a INR 20 commute as a joiner! I made a 2-night booking which was the cheapest lodging I could find in Agoda (INR 275/night). I figured that I can use the 2 days to look for other places if Raahi wasn't suitable for me. The hostel is only 4 months old with an affable hands-on owner. I stayed in a dorm room with 3 bunkbeds. Guests hang in the open-air common area with a flowing river breeze that cuts through. From the open roof deck is a cool view of the Ganga. The hostel is on the elevated bank of the river - great panoramic and expansive view of the river and what lies on the other bank. In the open areas, monkeys are quick to snatch your food - but that's life in Rishikesh.

I liked the energy at the hostel so I offered a web barter deal with the owner in exchange for extended compli-stay. He liked my offer and we shook hands on the deal. I was greatly relieved. This means I won't have to worry about my depleting cash and can devote more of my time into exploration rather than finding a roof over my head.

First Impression
There is still visible smog on the horizon above the main city, but not upstream in Laxman Jhula where I stay. Moreover, every corner seems to offer yoga, meditation and similar service. Rishikesh is a gamut of hotels, cafes and pagodas as well. Unlike New Delhi where you are hounded by touts or agressive vendors as soon as you leave your guesthouse, there are a few touts in Rishikesh - you can walk around town without feeling affronted.

Delhi Belly
Shortly before my departure from New Delhi, it gave me one last hurrah, the Delhi Belly - the one constant travelers endure as a rite of passage. I couldn't go far from my hostel in Rishikesh as I felt weak and could need the toilet at a moment's notice. With my nauli asana, I hoped for quick recovery. I am averse to Western medication, but here in Rishikesh, there have Ayurvedic and Allopathic alternatives. At the pharmacy, they gave me Allopathic medication. When I looked-up what Allopathy is, it's about addressing the symptom and not the cause - basically, the same as Western medicine. But in fairness, I started feeling better the following day.

Yoga Circus
From what I heard from people about Rishikesh, it's a yoga Disneyland from so much commercial yoga. I expected a swarm of Europeans from hippies, spiritual seekers and New Age afficionados (body piercings, body ink and dreadlocks) all over the place with yoga mats in hand. The yoga scene is intense here - yoga, meditation, pancha karma and ayurveda in practically every corner. Yoga is more intense here than in Ubud, Bali. But Rishikesh remains the domain of the Indian pilgrims who flock in droves, outnumbering Europeans by a far margin. The pilgrims crowd the pagodas, temples and bathe in the Ganga in pursuit of their devotion whereas the Europeans crowd the trendy cafes at night.

Lingering Thoughts
With my belly normalizing allowing me to lightly do some asanas, a compli-roof over my head for the next 24 days and finding a cheap laundry service (not as easy as it sounds), the rest of my days in Rishikesh look bright and promising.

Next on the horizon...attend yoga classes from as many studios and as many teachers and write about them like I did in Ubud. Wnen opportunities allow, I would also like to teach a few classes.

--- TheLoneRider
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Reader Comments:

Valerie SharpeValerie Sharpe
(May 21, 2018) I love Reshikesh!!!! 🙂 🙂

Laura PearceLaura United Kingdom
(May 19, 2018) Hope you get stuck in India til August so we can meet up there 🙂

(May 9, 2018) Awwww, I only got 60 days. But would love to see you here in India. Bumping into you in Bali was FAB 🙂

Ayn LatonioAyn Philippines
Vinyasa Krama by Srivatsa Ramaswami
(May 18, 2018) Feeling the energy there Git? The fire ceremony in Parmarth Niketan is a nice experience, the Beatles ashram where the beatles did their transcendental meditation, jumping in the ganga to wash off karmas, cheap yoga classes by amazing teachers there as well

Ruchika SawhneyRuchika India
(May 18, 2018) Ohhh.. in Rishikesh now .. one of my fav places. Must go for Ganga Aarti in the evening.. and Yoga is in the wire there .. many discourses on various Indian Vedic philosophy also keeps on happening there from some awakened spiritual masters .. if any of that sort is happening and if you have interest do go

Joan ChristineJoan Philippines
Fox & The Firefly Cottages
(May 18, 2018) Visit the Sivananda Ashram too interesting to see all-male monks and the resting place of Swami Sivananda. Add to it the Arati every 5pm in the Ganga river. Oh you have to try the I Love India fresh juice, at a juicing station along the way to Parmath Niketan next to the Ganga. Also the vegan Banofee Pie in Gange Beach Cafe, soooo good!

Junne GrajalesJunne Grajales
(May 18, 2018) Eat at Little Buddha Cafe, my favorite! they have brown bread and a nice view of the Ganga River 🙂

Next stop: Bouncing Back into Yoga in Rishikesh

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Rishikesh (city), India

hotels in Rishikesh hotel
  • RAAHI The Travellers Nest - backpacker-friendly, dorm rooms, central location, tours & rafting, motorbike rental, great place to meet people
    Paidal Marg, Laxman Jhula, 249192 Rishikesh

Travel Tips for Rishikesh

  1. climate-wise, best time to visit Rishikesh is from October to February when temperature is cool. This is also the high season for foreign travelers.
  2. May to June (my time of visit, before the monsoon rains) is HOT and DRY. Temperatures can reach beyond 40° and your skin/lips dry up. Great to go rafting or a dip in the Ganga River for respite. There are mostly Indian devotees and Indian tourists flocking to Rishikesh. Westerns tourists are few, but Rishikesh gets crowded specially while crossing the 2 bridges, Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula. Lodging prices can be negotiated down to INR 300/night for a bunk bed in a dorm room as this is low season.
  3. During the cooler season when any of the hugely popular gurus or babas visit to give a satsang, eg. Prem Baba, Mooji Baba, all rooms are fully booked from Rishikesh to Hardiwar!
  4. short power outages frequently happen during the day

How to get to Rishikesh from New Delhi by bus

  1. bus terminal Bus - take the Metro Yellow Line and get off at Kashmiri Gate. Exit the station from Gate 7 and enter the ISBT building - this is the bus terminal. Go down one flight and go to Platform 14. This is where you buy the bus ticket and board the bus. A/C bus, INR 454, 6 hours. You can take the 10:30pm bus and arrive 5am in Rishikesh.

    scam alert! - over the ticket counter, the guy may verbally charge you INR 765 - this is usually the online price of the bus ticket. But I looked closely at the printed ticket, and found the price at INR 454. I demanded more change! The guy knew he's been discovered and gave me back the rest of the change.

    You will arrive in Rishikesh at Adarsh Gram. To get to your hotel, travelers usually share a tuk-tuk (called Vikrams) for INR 10-20/passenger if shared. Since I arrived 5am, there was no one to share so I ended up paying a negotiated INR 150.
Travel Tips for India
  • e-VISA - visa on arrival is no longer done. Tourists should apply online for an e-VISA. Tourist e-VISA for 60 days = US$51.25 (including surcharges, non-refundable). NOTE: e-VISA is only honored in 25 designated airports and 5 designated seaports (Cochin, Goa, Mangalore,Mumbai,Chennai). You CANNOT do a land crossing using an e-VISA.
  • US$1 = Indian Rupee (INR) 67.18
  • nearly every food served is spicy...there is no escaping it
  • other travel destinations in India
  • always good to have an Indian SIM. It's handy to get wifi in some cafes

General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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  1. 16 Days in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala: Goodbye India June 23-July 8, 2018
  2. Peoplescape of Dharamshala, India June 14 - July 8, 2018
  3. Visiting the Tibet Museum June 27, 2018
  4. In Search of a Tibetan Yantra Yoga Teacher June 25, 2018
  5. Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India June 24 - July 8, 2018
  6. Life in Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 16-23, 2018
  7. Trekking to Naddi from Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 19, 2018
  8. Matters of the Heart Jun 17, 2018
  9. A First Timer in Dharamshala Jun 14, 2018

  11. 29 Hours in New Delhi Airport July 9-10, 2018
  12. Meditation with Shirly Pnina at Lodi Garden, New Delhi May 15, 2018
  13. A First-Timer in New Delhi, India May 12-17, 2018

  15. A 26-Day Mini-Life in Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
  16. Peoplescape of Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
  17. Rafting the Ganga River with Greg Goldstein June 1, 2018
  18. White Water Rafting on Ganga River, Rishikesh May 25, 2018
  19. Satsang (spiritual discourse) by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati May 21, 2018
  20. Ganga Aarti (devotional fire ritual) at Parmarth Niketan Ashram May 21, 2018
  21. Bouncing Back into Yoga in Rishikesh May 21, 2018
  22. Exploring Rishikesh, India May 18, 2018

  24. India e-VISA snag May 9, 2018

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