C'mon Inner Peace… I Don't Have All Damn Day
Rishikesh India is one of those unexpected surprises which grab hold of your soul and won’t let go.
Maybe the traveling spirits before me, such as the Beatles, have discovered this perfect gem of a village… but I had never heard of the self proclaimed “Yoga Capital or the World” until the bus dropped us off in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Manny and I had our wedding in New Delhi, and we were looking to get out of town for some relaxation. His cousin Prince had mentioned white water rafting down the Ganges river, which I found an odd anomaly in India, but nonetheless my ears perked up at the sound of any kind of adventure.
Getting out of Delhi was my only goal; I desperately needed a road trip.
On this excursion, we ventured north towards the borders of China and Nepal, but it is only now that I realize… maybe I was called there?
We yoga-loving Americans, envision spirituality permeating every aspect daily life in the mother-land; as if we are on a journey to replicate our own “Eat, Pray, Love” documentary… much of India, however, does not fulfill that fantasy.
But Rishikesh? This was the place of my dreams.
I had been searching for a place to stay in Haridwar, the city of temples, when I found a deal on a hotel called “Ganga Beach Resort” in Rishikesh for $38.
Manny said Rishikesh was only 15km away and was a much better place to stay, but that’s all he said. He failed to mention that I would fall in love with the village. No. My wonderful husband is not a seasoned traveler, so these details elude him.
The bus from Delhi was an interesting adventure in and of itself, complete with a pervert taking pictures of female passengers and Manny having to “relocate” said pervert to avoid the police being called. There were fleas on the 5 hour bus ride, no bathroom, and only one pit-stop somewhere along a rural highway. The bus was air-conditioned and quite “normal” otherwise.
We drove through Haridwar, and it became apparent there wasn’t much the city had to offer besides a few temples lining the Ganges, and a sky-tram up a mountain to a temple at the top. It was stuck in the back of my mind to at least stop for a visit on the way back to Delhi, though. Which we did.
I’m not the kind to just pass up the chance to say “I’ve been there.” Ya know?
Our arrival in Rishikesh was a major contrast to the hot, desert-like feel of long the drive. The Himalaya mountains start here, and there is a slower more relaxed pace almost instantly.
We took a rickshaw to our “beach resort” which had an impressive entranceway down a narrow, steep, zig-zagging path. The hotel itself seems pretty amazing at first, but leaves a very blah taste in your mouth after staying a few days. It was not horrible, but also nothing much to elaborate on.
The highlights of “The Ganga Beach Resort” were the view, and the price. Later, we found out that the location of the hotel was on the “wrong” side of the river.
The restaurant at the hotel was mediocre at best, and all of the “cheaper” rooms are on a steep cliff; there are several flights of stairs to get to your room. The “free wifi” listed on their website was ONLY in the lobby; a three story walk down the mountain from our room.
If you are looking for small, winding streets, with shops, a walkable village, vegetarian restaurants, and Yoga-galore… then you would want to be on the opposite side of the river, via an BEAUTIFUL foot bridge which crosses the Ganges.
Cars and rickshaws must stop to let off passengers, where you are then led down a narrow mountain street lined with shops to the foot bridge.
This town rolls up the sidewalks in the evening, so you want to be on the east side of the river, near restaurants and people… at least I do.
The east side is where everyone gathers for sunset, plays drums, and mediates. There is a white sandy beach where people hang out… hookah bars, coffee shops and lots, AND LOTS, of yoga.
This is also a “dry town,” meaning there is no alcohol for miles so plan ahead and bring your own… weed, on the other hand, did seem plentiful though… if that’s your thing.
As luck would have it, we were in Rishikesh for the Indian festival of Holi, and grateful to have a place to stay at all because everything was sold out. The Ganga Beach Resort was not bad… but I would do some more research next time, with decent hotels ranging from $30.-$70. across the river where the action is.
Holi, had been on my bucket-list since I was in high school, and I couldn’t believe I was so lucky to get this experience with my son..in India! My expectations were rather low, since I had been hearing that it is more of a “religious celebration” in India than the “rave-like” party celebrated in various locations around the world.
Trust me on this, Rishikesh did not disappoint:
Holi is known as the festival of colors, and symbolizes the beginning of Spring. It is held the day after the full moon in March when the entire country throws colors on each other in a general atmosphere of playfulness. There are several Hindu variations to the story, but generally it is a time to let loose, and enjoy.
The outdoor adventures around Rishikesh are abundant, such as bungee jumping, zip lining, himalya hiking, camping, cliff jumping, and white water rafting down the Ganges River. Most of the tours are relatively inexpensive compared to other places I have travelled, and seemed to be European owned with high safety standards.
Prior to Rishikesh, my impression of the Ganges River, or Ganga as my nephew liked to constantly point out, was that of the dirtiest river on the planet.
Haven’t you heard about how disgusting the Ganges River is your whole life?
I am sure maybe further south, where bodies are cremated for burial, the river may not be suitable for swimming. BUT, I assure you… this fresh, crisp Himalayan run-off was the most beautiful water I have ever seen.
It was insanely clean and crystal clear. We jumped from cliffs, swam in the river, and even had a taste of the enchantment the river holds.
To me, the Ganges was truly as magical as the anchient stories say. .
Rishikesh is one of those rare locations where I crave spending a lot more time. I left a piece of my soul there… and DYING to return. Even my ten year old son, Cai, says he wants to buy a home there so he can own a piece of heaven.
This is THE place where Americans envision “finding themselves” at an Indian ashram or retreat. The atmosphere is laid back and filled with love; an hour long massage only cost about $20 with the sounds of the river to ease your stress.
This village should be on everyone’s list at least once in their lifetime.
There is no doubt something magical is happening in Rishikesh… It draws you in, and won’t let go.
For more stories in the Jersey Girl and the Sikh category, click—> HERE
Read about “My Indian Boyfriend “—>HERE
My Big Fat Sikh Wedding: Indian Astrology —> HERE
My Big Fat Sikh Wedding: The Dress —> HERE
Surviving Long Distance Love—> HERE
Open Letter to my Husband—> HERE
Our Honeymoon, Rishikesh India—> HERE
Fiance Visa Process—> HERE
US Embassy Interview—> HERE
Journey to New Delhi—> HERE
First Trip to Jaipur India —> HERE
Our First Diwali—> HERE
Giving Thanks, Shukryia —> HERE
Being Sikh in America—> HERE
The Indian Grocery—> HERE
A Path to Happiness—> HERE
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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain