Rishikesh, India

Rishikesh is located at the foot of the Himalayas, known as the yoga capital and it is also a spiritual centre for Hindus.  I really liked it up here –  lots of fresh air, trees, mountains and of course the holy Ganga.  This area is devoted to Shiva and here you greet people with  Namaste.  We flew into Dehradun Aiport from Delhi on Jet Airways – it was a 40 minute flight and they still managed to serve sandwiches and water!  It was a pleasant ride in to Rishikesh (about 30 minutes) lots of trees and monkeys at the side of the road.  We stopped at the Arora Health Shop in Rishikesh to pick up healthy snacks.

Accommodation was at Narayana Palace, just on the outskirts of Rishikesh but close enough to walk to shops.  IMG_2261Gorgeous grounds, swimming pool, Ayervedic spa and the restaurant is safe to eat in.  It was a bit chilly for yoga outside on the grass so we were in the marbled Yoga Studio upstairs.  Friendly staff.  The Ayervedic Spa was quite basic but I had a Shirodhara Oil Treatment – INR 1200 (about $24.00)  It was an interesting experience, here they pour warm oil continuously on your forehead, third eye.   Your hair gets a nice oil as well, and you can wash it after, or it is recommended to leave the oil in overnight.

We would start our day here at 6.30am with Chai Tea and a 7.00am Yoga class, then breakfast and on to daily activities.

Vashista Guha

Believed to be the Cave of the great Sage Vashista .  According to Hindu Mythology Vashista is one of the Septarishis (7 immortal sages).  He along with his wife Arundhati did penance here for several years.  The  sign posted said that HH Swami Purushot Tamjanandaji came to the cave in 1928 and performed intense tapasya (a process of purification of mind and body through Pranayam, Meditation and Fasting).  He attained Mahasamadi in 1961 at age 82.  (Mahasamadi is a Yogi’s conscious decision to leave the body at the time of enlightenment). There was definitely a profound sense of peace in the cave. We meditated here in the darkness and later walked down the sandy beach to the Holy Ganga and enjoyed the beauty and serenity here.

Kunjapuri Temple – dedicated to the Goddess Durga

IMG_2230With an elevation of 5500ft you have a beautiful view of the Himalaya’s.  It is about 1 ½ hr roller coaster ride  from Rishikesh.  No bathroom here.  You may purchase an offering consisting of incense sticks, red chunari (veil), coconut, rice puffs, Elachi dana, (sugar drops) and Kumkum (vermillion).  Walking up the many steps you need to watch out for monkeys – one pinched half my offering on the way.

Lunch at Shiva by the GangesIMG_2198

Beautiful swim in the Ganges and lunch on the beach.  You can also go river rafting class 1 and 2, and there are many tent camps set up.  Indo Ganga Holidays can organize Trekking and Camping www.indogangaholidays.com  and if you don’t want to camp you can stay at the Shiva Resort www.shivaresort.com

Satsung with Swami Ram Kripalu Majaraj

IMG_2258Here we felt we were coming into his living room.  He was quite a character and had his attendants serve us tea and cookies.  We had arrived a bit late so he was anxious to get started.  Unfortunately I was served the tea last and he asked the attendants to collect the cups already.  The tea was very hot and I had to down it super fast. With that out of the way he started his talk which was about loving yourself.  He had a cell phone that kept ringing – he would pick it up and tell the person he was busy in prayer and ‘to love yourself’, and then he hung up on them.  This happened 3 times and became quite funny.  He had lived in a cave in the Himalayas for many years and had never cut his hair.  At the end of the evening he showed us how he tied it up on his head!