I have now been in Rishikesh for over a month and these are my experiences and reflections on this mystic city. A small holy city that charms you with its simplicity and grace, with its excesses on Yoga, amusing patterns and kaleidoscope of life cycle. It triggers a lot of emotions which ultimately seep inside to help you understand and align your inner self.
The Ganga Aarti, Rishikesh
There is something meditative in Ganga aarti. A positive energy that resonates through chanting of vedic hymns, the poised movements performed with agility, camphor infused fire creating an energy field around, flower decorated diyas floating in the water balancing the heat and producing a calming effect, the orangish hue of the evening sky has an indelible effect on you.
However, you can feel this meditative ambience touch your inner soul, only if you are not too busy clicking away. Sadly, tourists who come from far to witness this spiritual magnum opus undermine it’s impact by getting busy in capturing it for eternity.
I would say soak in the moment. Keep away your high end mobiles and DSLR, and just close your eyes, soak in the Ganges into your soul.
360 Degree View From The Bhootnath Baba Temple
This Shiva temple, Bhoothnath Baba Temple, in Rishikesh is perched on a hilltop behind Parmarth Niketan Ashram. It is a bit of a up hill walk that also includes climbing stairs for the temple has 7 storeys.
When Shiva and his baraat came to marry Sati, Daksh – father of Sati – made them stay here, more popularly known as ‘Janmasha’ ( common in marriage tradition of North Indians).
In the main courtyard of the temple there is a Shiva linga surrounded by 10 bells, and interestingly all of them have a different ring. Experience it in the video below.
Each floor has a diety – Nandi, Hanuman, and some other variations of Shiva, and finally when huffing and puffing you reach the seventh floor apart from darshan of Shiva as Bhoothnath baba you will be amazed with the scenic top view of the city.
Golden hue of the setting sun, Ganga flowing pristine, verdant greenery, the rounded white tomb of Maharishi Yogi of Beatles fame was seen amidst mountains on one side and Rishikesh city on the other side. A complete 360 degree view from the top.
All the tiredness seem to vanish at seeing this magical, picture perfect view. I fell in love with Rishikesh. If you are a #photography enthusiast then don’t miss this spot. This is a lesser known place so insist on your guide to take you there or just ask around and explore.
Sunset Over Ganges
Sunset over holy Ganga River in Rishikesh. Seeing a setting sun is always therapeutic. It has the potential to calm your senses and brings upon a meditative serenity. Look at a setting sun, say a small thanks in gratitude for the day (good or bad – because that is your perception. What might look like a bad day, who knows will actually turn out to be life-altering in the long run) and then move on towards enjoying the night.
Setting sun is a pause between an eventful day and slowing wrapping up towards the night. You, too, take that pause!
Stay still, focus on yourself and re-energize.
Kids Selling Flowers On Ganga Ghat
The youngest in this gang is Khushboo, 6 years old and the eldest Kirti and Sandeep, 10 years old. They come to sell flowers and diyas on the ghat after school and stay here till late evening. I asked them if they liked doing it and Sandeep innocently said that they need money for their school fees. While Khushboo proudly said that she studied in ‘English-medium’ school and showed in a sample of how they sell flowers to foreigners. Kirti told me that they sometimes they earn as less as Rs 10. However, once she had been lucky and a foreigner ‘didi’ gave her Rs 500.
Strange is life; while I keep my son over covered in woollens in the chilling winter evening, these kids run from pillar to post in bare minimum, to earn their school fees.
Well, now I have made a few friends and each time I go for a walk on Ganga ghat some chirpy voice will call from some corner, “Hello, didi!”
A Young Yogi
Exploring Rishikesh on foot, I met a young guy at Yog Niketan Ashram and was pleasantly surprised to know that his pursuing yoga as a career.
Studying MA in yogic sciences he is also interning alongside a senior yoga teacher.
When I asked him if the money was good, he said it was enough to lead a peaceful life. He came to Rishikesh by chance eight years ago and thanks that day. His love for Rishikesh was seen in his gleaming eyes. On being quizzed about a good yoga class around he meekly confided that most of the yoga teachers in Rishikesh are ‘self-proclaimed yoga gurus’. During peak season you will find less of foreigners and more of pseudo yoga teachers. Thus, one must filter and find out the real and experienced yoga teacher. So, don’t be in a hurry!
Interestingly, his name is Yogendra and we started discussing how name does plays a role in who you are – he is Yogendra and he is passionate about yoga. I am Gitanjali and I love to write.
These are my experiences and reflections on Rishikesh. I have been here for just over a month now and I can feel the change in myself. The grace and simplicity of this holy city is infectious.