In the last 10 years, Rishikesh, India has become a hotspot for Western tourists. Spiritual seekers from all over the world travel to the birthplace of yoga to explore spirituality, Indian culture, and authentic Eastern yoga. Rishikesh is a safe haven to deepen and expand your connection with your inner self and the outer world. Once a tiny village at the foothills of the Himalayas, the town is now buzzing with a vast array of ashrams, temples, world-renowned gurus, and an immense vivaciousness. Here are 10 experiences that will allow you to soak up the richness this town has to offer.
1. Dip in the Ganges
The Ganges is India’s holiest river. Many traditions believe a dip in the Ganges is a sacred way to purify the soul and body. Rishikesh is located on the upper part of the river and it is one of the cleanest areas to take the plunge.
2. Feel the Vibrations of a Traditional Kirtan
Kirtan consists of creating a community together to sing and chant different vibrational sounds and songs. There are different instruments and occasionally dancing from joy and devotion. Whether you participate in the singing or soak up the energy from the group, a kirtan is an energizing and heart opening experience.
3. Reconnect with Your Groovy Side at the Beetle’s Ashram
In the late 60s, the Beatles spent some time away from the world in Rishikesh studying transcendental meditation under Maharishi. The ashram the Beatles sought refuge in then still remains as main tourism site. The ashram campus is filled with a wide range of street art and a sacred pranic energy left from the transcendental meditation lineage.
4. Detox with Panchakarma Ayurveda Healing
Panchakarma is a 5 day Ayurveda treatment to help cleanse and detoxify the body, mind, and consciousness. Ayurveda is a medicinal and healing methodology developed in ancient Indian traditions. Rishikesh is filled with Ayurvedic doctors that can help you identify your dosha, personalize your healing plan, and help to make great shifts within your body and mind.
5. Practice Your Bargaining Skills in Rishikesh Market
Many areas in Rishikesh have been softened and reconstructed for Western tourism. Rishikesh market is an area that has been left untouched by the Westerners’ culture and offers a glimpse into the authentic Indian shopping experience.
6. Design Your Own Clothes + Jewelry
In India, it is common to have clothes personally made from a tailor versus buying them premade in a shop. It is a very humbling and a creative experience to find your own fabrics, communicate your designs, pick the embellishments, and haggle on the price. The process provides a new exposure and perspective to the work that goes into making a garment. It is a very special souvenir to take home seeing the hands and minds that went into creating your pieces. This is commonly done with jewelry, as well. There are a plethora of gem stores, mala stringers, and silversmiths that will work with you to bring your ideas to life.
7. Energize Your Spiritual Self at a Ganga Aarti
Many different ashrams or ghats (banks of the Ganges) offer a pooja, or a ceremony of worship and offering. These are immensely vibrant and uplifting ceremonies to witness. A good place to begin the search for popular events is at the Parmartha Ashram and the Triveni.
8. Immerse Yourself in Learning a New Skill
Rishikesh offers and abundance of courses from harmonium playing, mandala drawing, yoga instructor certifications, belly dancing, energy healing, etc. There is bound to be some new skill that will be accessible to learn and that also draws your interest.
9. Find Your Stillness in an Ashram
An ashram is a spiritual community center typically built under a specific lineage of practice or guru. They typically offer a daily schedule which includes mediations, yoga classes, meal times, quiet hours, etc. There are ashrams on nearly every corner in Rishikesh and they are a safe place to work on your own personal growth and practices.
10. Flow in a Yoga class with a World-Renowned Guru
Many different spiritual leaders from all over the world call Rishikesh home. It is not hard to find public offerings in a wide range of styles and practices. It is vital to experience yoga in its purest form while in India to begin to understand how the western world has changed the practice of yoga over time.