Rishikesh, India

My darlings!

Sam and I have been reunited in the fabulous, chaotic city of Varanasi, but first let me tell you a little about Rishikesh!

Actually the Lonely Planet just about sums up one side of matters: “Rishikesh is very New Age: you can learn to play the sitar or tabla on your hotel roof; try laughing yoga; practise humming or gong meditation; experience crystal healing and all styles of massage; have a go at chanting mantras; and listen to spiritually uplifting CDs as you sip Ayurvedic tea with your vegetarian meal.”

But will you permit me to set cynicism aside for two blog posts in a row? Almost unbelievable for me, I know, but the thing is this:  Is Rishikesh full of people getting their palms read? Yes. Are there more people sporting dreadlocks there than all other people’s hairstyles combined? Yes. Is it nevertheless an incredible place — magical even? Yes, yes, and yes.

Because when the Ganges flows through here, she’s bright turquoise, clear, and cool. She races through town, and cleaves the mountainous landscape in two. She reveals the spectacular secret colours of seemingly ordinary stones.

Mama Ganga and the north bank of Lakshman Jullah

a colourful view from the bridge of one of the day's many pilgrimages

down by one of the rocky beaches on the riverbank

Oh, and there’s Maharishi Mahesh’s abandoned ashram available for a visit if you don’t mind bribing the guard to let you in. By now you should have no trouble understanding my love for this place.

the old yoga hall, perhaps?

the hall's other half

one of the many abandoned guestrooms

even the fires leave ghosts behind

the hallway off some of the old rooms

But Rishikesh is also a place where the cows are so friendly that they come to visit you for lunch, where you’re enjoying your second bowl of Thukpa (Nepalese vegetable soup) of the day, because it’s so damn good.

the best meal ever.

one of the paintings at Paradise Cafe, where I ate dinner every night for two weeks

And in the evenings, after the sun sets and all of the riverside chantings are over and the last of the candle-bowl offerings has been floated down the Ganga, the town looks like this:

And it just so happens that all the people you meet there are wonderful and welcoming and warm. They come from Germany and England and France and Ireland and Sweden and California and New Zealand. They’re with you whether you’re in the hospital or in yoga class or just sipping tea in your favourite restaurant at night. And they teach lessons you had once learned but forgotten about friendship and gratitude and support.

the wonderful Daniel and Lilyan, just before a cow nosed its way into the restaurant to join us for lunch

Missing you all and hoping you’re well.

From India with love,

A

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3 thoughts on “Rishikesh, India

  1. Dadaa says:

    Homer asked, “Is this Odyssey or Art?”
    “Have a cow, man,” replied young Bart. 

  2. julia sterling says:

    Missing you a bunch right now!
    Shall I look up flights and meet you and Sam in India?
    I think so!!

  3. raghav jindal says:

    hey!im raghav..owner of paradise cafe rishikesh….thnx alot for mentioning abt us…for update frm paradise join raghav.jindal777@gmail.com(facebook)

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