|Hey Tini... This was difficult
to write because I edited it from something much longer
and was interupted many times. Should have just
concentrated on cost and nature of this place. But here
|Rishikesh is about 240 Km Northeast of
Delhi in the State of Uttarakhan,
which borders Nepal and Tibet.
It is in the foothills of the Himalayas.
|There is a train from Delhi
to Haridwar (~5 hours, ~$8) and a bus
from Haridwar to Rishikesh
(~1 hour, 60 cents).
|Haridwar is a "holy city" on
the Ganges. It is worth staying for a day or two. You can
go a bit upstream from the city centre to Har Ki Pori to
perform a ritual cleansing in the Ganges and dry off in
the sunshine on the ghats.
On to Rishikesh
|You will find a bus to Rishikesh near
the Haridwar train station and from there you take an
autorickshaw about 10 Km upstream to a footbridge across
the Ganges called Laxman Jhula.
You actually won't see the bridge from where the
autorickshaw stops, but if you walk about 200 meters you
will find Monal Hotel (CA$5.89/day), which I used as a
base for exploration.
|My overall expenses were CA$14.06/day
(about US$10 - 3 years ago) - and that's staying in a
comfortable Hotel with private hot water bath and cable
TV and eating in Western style restaurants.
|This hotel is long walk from
"downtown", where guest houses are more
expensive and restaurants like German Bakery have Western
food. But I enjoyed the walk
|Now if you walk back to the rickshaw
drop you will find a road going down the hill.
|Eventually you will come to some shops
and guest houses and stuff.
|And soon you will see a German Bakery
up on a hill...
|...and the entrance to a footbridge.
|The German Bakery is a comfortable
place to have a coffee and take in the view.
|And you may find, as I did, that the
clientelle are almost entirely Western women - of all
ages - and many of whom are solitary. This is not
at all typical of India.
|Even while exploring the area I saw
far more women than men.
|Eventually I learned from a few
conversations and a lot of eavesdropping at the German
Bakery that most of these women were here for weeks or
months to live in an Ashram and practice Yoga and
Transcendental Meditation. Many were
"regulars", as in; ...Ive been
coming here for 2 months every year since 89,
|Most of them said they were staying in
an Ashram - for $2 or $6/day (for overall expenses).
Also, I was told that if one stays in an Ashram for a
week or more, morning Yoga and meditation classes are
free. This information comes from people who were staying
at Parmarth Niketan, the
biggest Ashram in Rishikesh. Others were staying in
Ashrams with basic shared quarters and had to do their
own cooking and cleaning and it was "rigorous".
Some said that ritual cleansing in the Ganges and Yoga
and meditation were compulsory.
According to Lonely Planet the
price of a room with private bath, meals, and Hatha Yoga
lessons at "Rishikesh" is about $12/day, but
there seems to be many options.
|There are many Ashrams in Laxman
Jhula.... some cheap, some expensive (relatively).
|There are also many Saddhus in Laxman Jhula, who seem to be nothing more
than colourful beggars. But later, after I rented a
motorcycle and explored further down the Ganges, I met a
different kind of Saddhu far from where the tourist
|He spoke English and invited me to his
home for chai and ganja. His name is Yogi Padam
Nat. He built this place on the bank of the
Ganges and has lived here for 25 years.
|He has an apprentice named Ganganat
and sometimes I would take him to a local market and
|After some fact checking I came to
believe that Padam is a genuine Yogi Nath, partially
because of what neighbouring locals told me, the way
Ganganat treated him. and his earrings...
|I did not get a good photo of this and
cannot find the reference, but apparently, by law, only a
true Yogi Nath can wear this kind of earring.
|Now.... moving along before I get too
carried away with tangential narratives, I will just add
that Laxman Jhula is physically and spiritually
beautiful. There is always the sound of soft musical
chanting and the smell of incense.
|The Ganges at this altitude is clean
and full of fish. [And there are monkeys everywhere]
|I was surprised to find clean white
sand beaches along the shores...
|Rishikesh is also Where the Ganges
escapes from the canyons of the Himalayas into the
openness of the Doon Valley... and is sometimes called The Gateway to
|I had imagined that the Ganges would
be dirty, stagnant, and polluted. Maybe this is the case
further downstream, but a bit further upstream from
Rishikesh it flows swiftly and is aerated by many rapids,
which attracts a fair number of white water rafters.
|So... I could say more about this
place... but this is enough... for now