I’ll never forget as I crossed the iron suspension bridge to arrive in the heart of India’s ‘yoga capital’. I passed cows parked in the middle of the bridge, squeezed through the crowd, dodged swipes from monkeys and tried not to look down at the swirling, pulsing Ganga River 450 feet below.
Before and during my trip, I had heard the area had become quite touristy and had ‘lost its authenticity’, but once I had spent a morning roaming the streets between the two bridges, I nudged those comments aside. Yes, there were a lot of international travellers and travellers from other parts of India. Cafes served Western food, stall holders sold souvenirs and knick-knacks that appealed to tourists, you could purchase any yoga text or meditation CD, but looking past it all, it is still a hub of spiritual, self-exploration and discovery.
While I was there, I had limited time on my hands. I was studying at a yoga school 26 of the 30 days (read the blog post here) and wish I pushed past the exhaustion to explore more on my lunch breaks and days off. That being said, I still found some gems that I’ll list below, along with some tips.
Getting to Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh (from Delhi)
I met other yoga students at the airport to catch a taxi together to Rishikesh. Our plans fell through at the airport and it was a little stressful. We ended up taking a cab from the airport (a big ‘no no’) but we survived, had a nice driver and didn’t pay anything too extravagant. It was an eight-hour drive with four jet-lagged foreigners, poor guy.
- I would fly into Dehradun and then organise transport from the airport to Laxman Jhula.
- If I was with a group of friends, I would even consider catching the train from Delhi to Haridwar.
- If I were to catch a cab again, I would seek driver recommendations through one of the Facebook Rishikesh Community groups, for example, Rishikesh Taxi Sharing Carpool.
Tip: Don’t book a return trip, you’ll sort something while you’re there.
Planning a trip? Or want some recommendations?
I only discovered these Facebook groups after I got home and will definitely use them when planning my next trip.
- My personal favourite, Rishikesh Spirit. There is also an awesome Rishikesh Spirit website/ directory I’d recommend checking it out.
- Rishikesh Community
- Another Rishikesh Community on Facebook
Massage (treatment and massage course)
After lugging a backpack around Europe for three months, I was really grateful when Vicky from Tattva Ayurvedic Centre made me feel as good as new. On the second day of yoga school I felt a shooting pain between my shoulders in reverse triangle pose. Two sessions with Vicky and I felt free from knots and tightness. I honestly think if you are doing lots of yoga classes (or lots of exercise in general) it’s important to partner it with massages.
Vicky also takes on students who want to learn his amazing massage techniques. A couple of friends from yoga school did his course and loved it.
Meditation and Emotional Blockage Treatment
I struggle to ‘sit down and meditate’ so I found the Bliss of Breath meditation session with Swami Prakesh Ji an incredible experience. Combining physical movement and breathing techniques, I was able to let go of the ‘monkey mind’ and actually relax into a meditative state. When you go, be open minded, stay focused on Swami Ji’s words and the breath. Everyone’s experience is different so I won’t go into depth describing mine.
I also recommend Swami Ji’s Emotional Blockage Treatment. It’s like a pressure point massage that is releases emotions, trauma and experiences that we have subconsciously stowed away in our muscles. Once again, go with an open mind and see what happens! Swami Ji was one of my absolute favourite humans I met during my time in Rishikesh.
Swami Ji was one of my absolute favourite humans I met during my time in Rishikesh so please do seek him out.
Accommodation, hot water washing machine, convenient store and… general life and health advice
Another one of my favourite humans was Rajive from Sheela Mohan Palace. When I was sick, he gave me Ayurvedic remedies and when I went in to get my fix of dried mango and chocolate biscuits, he gave me little bits of life lessons and wisdom. Give his adorable dog ‘Cookie’ a pat from me.
There is no shortage of amazing cafes and hangouts in Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula. I spent a lot of downtime nestled on the cafe balconies overlooking The Ganga. If you’re a night owl and/or a musician, find Bohemian Cafe. When I was there they had some late night jam sessions.
Tip: Look for ‘uses filtered water’ on the menu
- Little Budha Cafe
- Cafe Nirvana
- Bohemian Cafe
- Buddha Momos (serves delicious Nepalese style dumplings)
Please go to the Rajasthani Mishthan
Also, try the masala dosa at Chotiwala by the Ganges
As mentioned before, I didn’t spend enough time in the area exploring and know that I didn’t touch the tip of the Rishikesh experience. I get tingles just writing this blog post and cannot wait until I get to return to that beautiful part of the world!
Have you been to Rishikesh? Share your experience below in the comment section! I would love to hear your recommendations.
Related Blog Post: Yoga School In Rishikesh, India