Rishikesh

ChotiwalaWe hired a driver and Jeep in Gangotri to take us to Rishikesh. When we awoke in the morning in Gangotri, we crawled out of our sleeping bags and put on our fleeces and down sweaters. It had snowed on the peaks. It was a long day even though we didn’t stop for meals. We left at 7 a.m. and arrived at 8 p.m.. By mid-day, we were perspring in our T-shirts.
Rishikesh is a holy city on the Ganges River. When the Beatles went to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi way back in the last century, this is where they stayed.
Although it’s not as large or busy as Haridwar, many Indian tourists come here to visit the temples and river and to assemble for additional tours into the Himalayas. There are two famous pedestrian suspension bridges here, Lakshman Jhula and Shivanand Jhula. The Photographers’ Association stays busy taking photos at Lakshman Jhula. A large sign says you need a permit from the Association to take photos. You can take rafts down the Ganges for whitewater thrills.
The main indusry seems to be yoga education for Westerners. A dozen women were taking a class at our hotel. Western male students tend to dress all in white and have beards and dreadlocks. Bookstores have comprehensive libraries with ancient texts to contemporary “how to” and inspirational works. Signs tout techniques; banners advertise swamis. Our local map lists about thirty ashrams. A number of people appear to have “gone native” and settled here to unwind, absorb the local culture and pursue enlightenment. Many Indian babas line the streets and can be seen bathing in the Ganges. I’m not sure of local protocol, but too many of the babas are begging for five and ten rupees for chai. More than a few are smoking and selling hashish.

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