I have to admit that the number one activity we have been undertaking with pleasure in Rishikesh has been to get stuck in a café all day, eating so much mouth-watering vegan food, that we had to roll back to our guesthouse. But my second favourite place, after the place of food binging, is definitely The Beatles ashram. It is now in ruins, but certainly worth a visit. Mainly because of the amazing graffiti and the peaceful, magical atmosphere of the place. You can walk around for hours enjoying the quiet, away from all the hustle and bustle which you normally are forced into when in India. The Beatles visited the ashrams in the late 60s, some members staying for ten days and some for a couple of months. Regardless of their short stay it is now commonly known as The Beatles Ashram, founded by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the early 60s, it was the main place for courses in Transcendental Meditation (TM). Notwithstanding the fact that it is in ruins at this time, you can easily imagine the beauty of the space. Personally, I find it immensely beautiful how it has developed today. Emerged with nature with a mix of modern graffiti, the ‘human made’ dissolving into the earth, and nature taking back what was originally hers, allowing the flowers to blossom wildly and carefully monitoring the harmony sustaining the land again.
Rishikesh is a mecca for yoga enthusiasts, but offers a lot more then just yoga classes. For the adrenalin junky there is rafting, which can be super slow or crazy depending on what time of year you are here, and best of all is that you will be doing it on the holy Ganga river, which is always freeeeeeezzzzziiinnnngg btw, bungy, mountain biking, cliff jumping, rappelling, trekking and much more. Mountains (or hills which Sabin is insisting that we call them as they are way to low to be in the category of mountains for his Nepali point of view) are surrounding Rishikesh and offers beautiful views, day hikes and waterfalls. Sabin went swimming in Ganga!!! I am convinced that his Himalayan genes are providing him with some magical powers of creating body heat, as I could not even making myself put my leg in after my big toe tasted the chills from the river (my Norwegian viking heritage is clearly not working out for me!!). And as mentioned earlier, we have spent a lot of time café jumping. You know, just going from one café to another indulging in amazing vegan food, tasty coffee, sweet orgasmic pastries and interesting conversations. This can be very time consuming as well. Especially with all the wildlife watching in between the pastries. I am completely in love with an outrageous number of baby cows and dogs. To my huge disappointment they cannot come with us to Nepal, so I have to cherish them now on our last day here. The monkeys I can easily leave behind as we have had to many aggressive confrontations at this point. My increasing fear led me to throw a banana as hard as I could towards one little bastard that caught me off guard, ending up with the monkey screaming and running off, the banana falling to a happy cow, leaving Sabin in tears of laughter watching my quick, shocked reaction. A bit bitter that my banana was enjoyed by someone else at the hungry state I was in, but very pleased it was the cute cow that got it.
There is a huge amount of knowledge sharing nonstop going on in the ashrams, there is always a Satsang you can join for free (by donation) somewhere around. We went to a Satsang with Mooji the other day which was pretty mindblowing. Not really because of the knowledge, which also was really fantastic, but because of the infrastructure around it. There must have been more than a thousand people, security checks, organized different lines with ropes put up, shoe lines, people with signs for toilet line, free chair etc. it was crazy. But that’s obviously not the norm, most Satsangs are more small scale and you don’t have to be in a line for an hour to join. So, to clarify, Satsang is a space for questions/answers regarding life. It is defined as sitting together with an enlightened person who usually gives a short speech and then answers the questions of people attending. You can find classes in painting, cooking, massage, reiki, emotional healing, music classes in tabla, harmonium, flute etc, and off course all the different yoga classes. There are meditation classes, pranayama, mantra chanting (kirtan). There are asana sessions in hatha, yin, ashtanga, vinyasa, tantra, kundalini, and some things I have never even heard about. We have been a couple of times to classes at Sattva yoga centre where they have yin session with live music, which has been really wonderful. To summarize, there is something to do for any flavour of individual, or to just do nothing at all, that’s quite an easy accomplishment here which you will share with a bunch of other café goers. It was nice to see you again Rishikesh!! Three years since last time, a month was a perfect amount for us at this point before adventuring into western Nepal.
Until next time. Live happy, healthy, with lots of love for yourself and the world.