The spiritual vibes and the devotion of the people in worshiping the mighty river of Ganga was both astonishing as well as amazing for me. The dark blanket of night was all ready to embrace the dark blue sky, the pundits were all dressed up in saffron, chanting the mantras, offering flowers, garlands and diyas to the flowing Goddess who is the sole beauty amidst the green hills surrounding the valley of Rishikesh. As the aarti started , the flames of hundreds of lamps could be seen spreading the divine charm as the gushing river sparkled in its light as if blessing all her devotees.
The sound of the bells creating a crescendo effect along with the melodious words praising the goddess added to the spiritual aura of Triveni Ghat. But wait, Rishikesh isn’t just about what you think it to be, it is not just a pilgrim, it is a place that leads you to your inner self that might be weeping behind the doors of your mind wrapped around by stress or sadness or an overload of expectations from the society.
Also Read – An Underwater Journey in the Havelock Island
It is a place that can fill a happy soul with euphoria of inner peace and pure fun as you roam around and party amidst the nature and not within the four walls of a sassy club. It is a place where you make friends with whom you can have long conversations irrespective of their identity, colour, creed or nationality.
The experience was all the more amazing for me as I stayed in the comfortable rooms at Live Free Hostel and I must say, even if you are traveling with friends, staying in a hostel like this makes it all the more happening.
On the very first day in Rishikesh I made friends with Lisa from Canada, Maria from Brazil and Ogino from Japan. Though the day was quite hot, the travel talks and chitchat with my roommates in an AC dorm was the best thing to do than getting bored in a hotel room where nobody cares to even smile at you. As I always say, traveling solo doesn’t really mean that you are all alone, and a special thanks to the hostels like Live Free which makes socialization easy for the travelers.
The Yoga Sessions
Stretching for the muscles and concentrating for the soul; yoga in Rishikesh is something that might interest even the most inflexible and laziest of the persons in the world. The streets of Rishikesh are almost flooding with yoga and meditation classes. Most of them are either for the Yoga experts or for those who are looking for some long term course, but the yoga sessions at Live Free Hostels are for all those who wish to really enjoy some Yoga poses while breathing in the fresh air from the mountains. May it be on the terrace of the hostel with the sprawling view of the mountains or on the quaint banks of the Ganga, the yoga sessions organized by the hostel under the guidance of a Yoga expert should be in your list of ‘the must do things in Rishikesh’.
Witnessing the Morning Glory : Sunrise Trips
The chirpy Asian Flycatchers distracting your morning ride along the lush green trees, a sparkling river flowing like a serpent below you and the mild Sun painting the sky deep blue, orange and then bright azure with its blazing shine…. Sounds interesting ? And your kind of morning right? And this is exactly what you can experience with all crazy backpackers at Live Free Hostel and can enjoy the ‘Rishikesh Lifestyle’.
A Bike Trip to Nilkanth Mahadev and the Hidden Caves
You may also like to read : The Horcrux of Mahabharat is safely Hidden in this Hiamlayan Village
“Riding to Neelkanth is fine but do visit the caves where you need to hike a bit,” said Sid as he flung into the hammock set in the common area which was his favourite place. Neither did we know what the cave was like nor did we expect it to be anything unique, but somehow I felt I should consider visiting it and thus was it added to the day’s itinerary. Trudging up on the rented Activa to Neelkanth mahadev remembering and recalling the extracts from ‘The Meluha’ , we imagined how somewhere here Shiva and his tribe might have had somaras and would have been surprised to wake up with the blue throat. It was really an amazing journey to the fictional imagination of the mythological tale; And more amazing was the hike to Zhilmil caves.
Apparently, we were the only visitors on that walking through the deserted trail. Soon, the we were welcomed at the caves with the sight of a few ‘babas’ engrossed in their chores and dividing the ‘Shivji ka prasaad’ among themselves. But, I could hardly pay attention to it as my attention was grabbed by the shining walls of the caves that I had once witnessed at Barataang Island in Andamans. The natural art had formed the varied structures of the lime and the high amount of moisture made it shine as if the divinity was showing its marvel.
Further up in the cave we could see the hole at the top that showered the sunlight as if blessing the person mediating in the cave. It was indeed an unbelievably dramatic sight. The Rishis and especially Lord Parshuram is said to have mediated in this cave. The treatment of the sadhus was also quite surpirising as they offered us water, tea and some sweet rather than just asking the alms as a normally observed practice. It was certainly one of the best places that I had explored till now.
Had I been in any guest house, I am sure nobody would have cared to suggest us something like this.
The Beatles Saga – @Beatles Ashram
Is the much hyped Beatles Ashram worth a visit and spending so much on its ticket? Yes it is. You don’t have to worry if you have a student ID Card (Most of the time people are lucky and nobody checks the expiry date) as you get 50% off.
The outgrown creepers around the conical domes coated with polished stones look amazing as the Sun plays hide and seek and the shadows seem to be dancing on the floor of this Ashram located in the premises of Rajaji National Park. The graffiti on the walls give stunning backgrounds for some cool pictures. And a few minutes of staring at the swaying leaves while listening to the sweet music created by the chirping birds is soothing not only to your ears and min but also to your soul.
Aarti at Parmarth And Taming the Taste-buds at Chotiwala
Singing along the hymns praising the river Ganga along with the young pandits clad in bright yellow and then also holding the burning metal lamps to offer your prayers to the river can be an exciting experience at Parmarth and I would advise you to enjoy the ‘pujas’ here even before the aarti begins. After your ride and soothing exploration at the Beatles Ashram, this can be a perfect stop to mingle with the rhythmic chaos of Rishikesh. A plate of Indian cuisine at Chotiwala’s after the aarti would just make your day, my personal favourite there was a glass full of sweet lassi.
A Photo Trail on the Streets of Rishikesh
Graffitis, more graffities and the unbelievably appealing wall art is what you would witness across the streets and lanes of Rishikesh. And even if you are not an instagram bug, the art would lure you to pose with them. For such vibrant art you just need to move around the narrowest of the lanes and in the middle of all raunchy shops and tiny houses, you might get a new art almost every another day.
Sunsets and a Sip of Hot Ginger Lemon Honey Tea – Pure Soul Café
The soothing views of the green hills, a swimming pool to enjoy around, melodious music for the artistic soul and the healthiest of the food for the hungry soul is something what you can expect for at Pure Soul Café. The most famous cafes in Rishikesh might disappoint you even after paying a price and only the Pure Soul Café can be trusted when your sole aim is to eat some satisfying food. I had been to a number of famously top enlisted café and was disappointed the way they just serve stale salad stuffed in or garnished with either sandwiches or quesadillas, enchiladas and even sandwiches. So, Pure Soul Café came as a pure delight to a foodie soul like me.
Ending the Day with Never-ending Discussions
The forests of Africa to the babas and sadhus of India, every country and every topic right from tattoos to novels used to be the point of discussion at the end of the day. And it never ended till mid-nights, of course this did not disturb the early birds, as almost all of them were involved in the discussions. While I had such interesting people during my stay, my friend Pranith Rao remembers having fun partying and enjoying till late night in the hostel. Whether you are a fun lover or a knowledge freak, this hostel always have your type of people.
Truly, those were the memorable night-talks as the nomads from all around the world shared their thrilling, horrifying and funny experiences.
Have you ever been to any backpackers’ hostel or would love to do so after reading this ? Would love to know your experiences …..