The City Of Yoga
I used to travel to Rishikesh many years back when I was in consumer sales, and we always regarded Rishikesh as a backwater town. We never stayed in Rishikesh but used to stay in a hotel in Haridwar and travel to Rishikesh, and back to Haridwar. Apart from this, we did not hold Rishikesh in good esteem for the food. In the years that have passed since then, it has transformed itself into being, a city of yoga. When in Rishikesh, I spend considerable time by the banks of the Ganges, not always on my belly!
When I first traveled to Rishikesh, I didn’t notice any foreigners – if they were wandering in Rishikesh; the numbers were too low for them to be visible. Now, they are all over the place and, I’d say that many of them are more local than the locals. You will find them practicing yoga; doing strange exercises at various parts of the town; sitting in the German Bakery holding forth on Hindu philosophy with a serious mien; squatting next to cows, or in some awful restaurants, and even getting their ears cleaned.
What Else Will You Find?
You will also find them sitting at the banks of the Ganges, at the various Ashrams, like the famous Parmarth Ashram, listening to the grand evening prayer. The Parmarth Ashram has an annual yoga festival, which I have never attended. Neither do I intend to do so, because hotel prices skyrocket during this time.
Yoga centers dot this city of yoga and posters of yoga practitioners in various contorted poses provide a passerby enough opportunity to wonder if they ever undo the knots!
Most of these foreigners live in Rishikesh for several months in the year, and they are often more welcome at restaurants than we Indian citizens are. This is reverse discrimination, and we Indians are good at this.
The Beatles & Donovan
The Beatles and Donovan visited this city of yoga many years ago, and some believe that it is here, under the starry skies and in a psychedelic mood, Donovan composed his song, “The Hurdy Gurdy Man”
What You Won’t Find
Wonderful restaurants. Restaurants are awful, but then you don’t visit for the food. You visit for the river, the evening breeze, and the chance to walk along the two suspension bridges – one known as Lakshman Jhula, and the other known as Ram Jhula. Ram and Lakshman are the two brothers in the Ramayana. These days, hardcore right-wing Hindus chant “Jai Shri Ram” and call for Muslim genocide. I doubt Ram approves of genocide being carried out in his name, or even people calling for genocide.
The word “Jhula” means “swing”, no doubt inspired because the bridges sway when people walk on them. The Ram Jhula, the bigger one, is downstream. Chief Engineer P.H. Tillard supervised the construction of the bridge, which was built between 1927 and 1929. Since those days, we have added one billion people to our country’s population, and Mr Tillard’s ghost will be proud to know his bridge has survived all these years.
If you sit at one of the German bakeries, you can gaze down at the Lakshman Jhula while sipping their lemon-ginger tea and eating some of their baked product. It’s good to sit there by the open windows, look down at the bridge and river, and listen to people pontificate on the eternal soul of India.
This city of yoga is calm and peaceful, and I get most of my peace from the beautiful river that flows through the town.
I used Luminar AI
to edit these images. I started with the templates suggested by the software and refined the edits thereafter. After I had finished editing a particular image, I copied the edits to other images that had a similar style or atmosphere. The reason I did this was to achieve a consistent style collection of images. Try it one day!