When you think of yoga it often gets mentioned that it originates from India. Yoga has been practiced in India for centuries as a way of freeing the mind, body, and spirit.
There are many yoga centers in India that provide everything from in-depth courses to drop-in classes and maybe the most popular yoga destination is Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is a Holy city on the Ganges River situated in India’s northern state of Uttarakhand. The river is considered holy, and the city is well known as a center for studying yoga and meditation. It is considered a wonderfully spiritual place to study yoga.
Today it styles itself as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’ and hosts numerous ashrams offering various styles of yoga and meditation to choose from.
One thing you can be sure of is that, if you go to Rishikesh, there is a lot of opportunity to practice yoga & meditation as well as all the other activities available there.
In Risikesh there are exquisite views and great settings on the fast-flowing Ganges, surrounded by forested hills, which is very conducive to yoga and meditation as well as mind expansion.
Rishikesh and The Beatles
It is said in many journals that Rishikesh is popular today because of the Beatles visit there. Rishikesh has been a spiritual center for a long time but the Beatles trip really put it on the map.
In 1968 they went to India to see Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian Guru who was becoming well known at the time for teaching Transcendental Meditation (TM). At the time he was a 47 year old man with long hair and a beard and he was lecturing at colleges and universities around the United States and Europe.
Young people were becoming enamored with his simple notion of using meditation to elevate your consciousness. The Beatles saw him in London where he spoke and afterwards they met him and he invited them all to a ten-day summer conference in Bangor, a small coastal city in Wales. It was there that the four men became devotees.
It then emerged that they would spend a few months in early 1968 at Maharishi’s ashram in Rishikesh. Out of that trip came not only the band’s epic White Album but a seismic shift in the popular understanding of Eastern spirituality, meditation and music. Their trip was covered by all the newspapers and media and since that time Rishikesh has been very popular and a magnet for spiritual seekers.
Yoga in Rishikesh
It really does have so much to offer, thousands of people are attracted every year to Rishikesh for spiritual relief, peace, to learn yoga, adventure and to bathe in the Gange River for salvation. The famous among them were the Beatles, Kate Winslet and many other celebrities.
It is believed that by meditation in Rishikesh one can get “Moksha” (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth).
Sleeping Quarters in Rishikesh
When you go to Rishikesh, unless you stay in a private house, there are two main types of sleeping accomodations – the ashrams or hotels.
Ashrams in Rishikesh
Rishikesh is a great place to experience the Ashram life and there are some good ones that offer accomodations. Many of them offer basic shared rooms without internet for as little as $12.
Activities include eating satwik (organic) food, taking part in ashram activities, and listening to the lectures on Hinduism or other topics of interest. These include things like how to live a peaceful life, helping the needful, or helping in ashram work and maybe even spending time with the children.
The process of bunking on site often begins with a 5 a.m. wake-up call for mediation followed by a morning yoga class. Each center has its own schedule but daily activities can include more yoga, some chanting, lectures and the group meals.
One thing to mention is that heating and hot water can be inconsistent so keep this in mind especially between November and February. These places are frequented by many international travelers and pilgrims.
Since each has its own schedule it’s important to investigate which one best meets your needs.
Rishikesh is full of various kinds of hotels that offer great accommodations. It is such a lovely town and the hotels aim to make your stay both comfortable and memorable.
Many of the hotels offer things like scenic views and rooftop restaurants and the food is great too.
You can find accomodations in all price ranges with features like air-conditioning, heaters and flat-screen cable TV. It is also possible to find a private bathroom which includes a shower. Some have dry cleaning and laundry service along with helpful desk service.
And the choices also offer great locations like a few steps away from Lakshman Jhula, Swarg Ashram and Maharishi Yogi Ashram on the banks of the mighty Ganges.
Here are some good hotels with listed suggested price:
- Kunwar Residency $34
- Hotel Ganga Kinare $111
- Bunk Stay Rishikesh $14
- Yog Niketan By Sanskriti $84
- Divine Resort Laxman Jhula $110
- Trihari $22
There are some beautiful resorts on the hill areas and a lot of fun daytime activities in the town and rivers nearby.
During peak season May-June and October-January plus in festival days it’s a good idea to book hotel rooms in advance.
3 Great Yoga Ashrams in Rishikesh
Rishikesh has so many good ashrams for yoga. Yoga classes are provided on a daily basis or else a pre-decided schedule. Some ashrams provide classes only to the people who stay in their ashram while others offer open classes to the public. Ashrams are the best option if you want to stay for a long time to practice yoga and meditation (more than a week).
Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Parmarth Niketan is located on the banks of the holy Ganges river and is one of the more authentic ashrams in Rishikesh. It is one of the top yoga centers in India and is the biggest ashram in Rishikesh.
It consists of eight acres with 1000 rooms and the rates vary according to the quality of accomodation and also the view. The prices are very reasonable and it includes two yoga classes and three meals daily. They allow stays of up to 15 days if you wish to stay a long time.
Parmarth Niketan offers a wonderful evening Ganga Aarti fire worship at the river and many people come to attend it.
They are also host to the International Yoga Festival coming up every year in March.
The ashram runs a full program of yoga, Vedic heritage and spirituality, plus they offer teacher training courses. Outside visitors are welcome to attend daily classes and they only ask for a donation.
Sivananda was a famous teacher and this top Indian yoga center was founded by him. It is run by the Divine Life Society.
Their teachings focus on five main themes of yoga – postures, breathing, relaxation, meditation, and diet. They are serious about practice and so accommodations are only offered to serious spiritual seekers who are requested to apply at least a month in advance. These accomodations are usually offered free of charge and include food.
They offer free yoga and meditation classes daily and the ashram is located near Ram Jhula, by the main road.
Yoga Niketan Ashram
The Yoga Niketan is another great ashram in Rishikesh and was founded in 1964 by Swami Yogeshwaranand Paramahansa. He was a famous master of Raja yoga and his teachings follow the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the most famous text on modern day yoga. This teaching is based on the Eight Fold Path as defined by Patanjali.
The master spent most of his life in the Himalayas and the students are taught to follow a strict daily schedule of yoga, meditation, and lectures.
The ashram has 100 comfortable rooms which are available to students. They all have private bathrooms and hot water.
It is located in the Muni-Ki-Reti area of Rishikesh.
Facts About Rishikesh
- Elevation: Rishikesh is located at an altitude of 360 meters above the sea level in hill area
- Population: Total population of Rishikesh is 75,020 (53% male and 47 % female) as of 2001
- Time Zone: India Standard Time
Rishikesh is one of the most colorful cities in India and is home to some of the best ashrams in the world. It became famous especially from the visit of the Beatles but has a charm and splendor the is more along the lines of timeless.
You can visit Rishikesh for yoga and meditation practice and totally find what you are looking for, even though some people just go there for the cafes, restaurants and recreation activities like hiking and rafting.
So, whether you go there for serious practice or just a fun time, do consider a visit to Rishikesh and chances are you may want to return for a second time. For most people it is a visit to remember and there is so much to do that it may warrant a return trip!
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