by Andy Khong
Rishikesh is known as the “Yoga Capital of the World” and is a popular destination for spiritual seekers, yoga enthusiasts, and adventure seekers alike. Alcohol and non-vegetarian food are completely banned as it is considered a holy land, and an important pilgrimage centre. The city is well-connected by road, rail, and air. The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, which is about 35 km (22 miles) away. The city is also well-connected by road to major cities in North India, such as Delhi, Haridwar, and Dehradun.
Rishikesh is a city located in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, at the confluence of the Ganges and Chandrabhaga rivers. The source of the Ganges is actually located in the Gangotri glacier, which is situated at an altitude of over 4,000 meters (12,360 feet) above sea level in the Himalayas, about 19 km (12 miles) from the town of Gangotri in Uttarakhand. The river then flows through the state of Uttarakhand, passing through cities such as Rishikesh, Haridwar, and Kanpur, before emptying into the Bay of Bengal (east of India).
Rishikesh is situated on the banks of the Ganges, where the river is still relatively narrow and fast-moving. It is considered a holy city in Hinduism, and many pilgrims come here to take a dip in the sacred river and perform puja (worship) rituals. The river is also used for adventure sports such as white-water rafting, bungy jumping, zip-lining, and kayaking.
Rishikesh is believed to be the place where Lord Rama did penance for killing Ravana (Ramayana^), and is also the place where Lord Vishnu defeated the demon Madhu (Mahabharata^) [^ The Mahabharata, and Ramayana are popular epics of Hinduism]. The city is also the starting point for the Char Dham Yatra, a pilgrimage to the four holy shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. (In Hindi, ‘char’ means four, ‘dham’ refers to religious destinations, and ‘yatra’ means pilgrimage).
Rishikesh is famous for its ashrams and yoga centres, which attract visitors from all over the world.
Some of the popular tourist attractions in Rishikesh include the Triveni Ghat, Laxman Jhula, Ram Jhula, Neer Garh Waterfall, and the Beatles Ashram, where the Beatles stayed and wrote the bulk of their famous White Album in 1968.
Triveni Ghat: confluence of India’s three main rivers – Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati (mythical).
Neer Garh Waterfall.
Rishikesh is known for its emphasis on satvik food, which is considered pure and nourishing for the body and mind according to traditional Ayurvedic principles. Satvik food is primarily vegetarian, but it may also include dairy products such as milk, ghee (clarified butter), and paneer (cheese).
Satvik is a term derived from the Sanskrit language and is used in the context of food and lifestyle choices. Satvik refers to a specific quality or attribute associated with purity, clarity, and harmony. It is often used to describe a particular type of diet and lifestyle that is considered conducive to spiritual growth, mental clarity, and overall well-being.
In the context of food, a Satvik diet consists of pure, simple, and unprocessed vegetarian food. It emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and dairy products. The food is prepared in a way that maintains its natural qualities and flavours, without the use of strong spices, onions, garlic, or any stimulating or intoxicating substances. The focus is on consuming foods that are light, easy to digest, and nourishing to the body and mind.
A Satvik lifestyle goes beyond just food and extends to other aspects of life as well. It promotes simplicity, moderation, and balance in daily routines and activities. It encourages practices such as yoga, meditation, contemplation, and self-discipline. The goal is to cultivate a calm, peaceful, and harmonious state of mind, promoting spiritual awareness and personal growth.
The Satvik philosophy is deeply rooted in ancient Indian wisdom and is influenced by concepts from Ayurveda and Yoga. It is believed that following a Satvik lifestyle can help purify the body, mind, and soul, leading to enhanced physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual evolution.
[Animal lovers note: dogs being omnivores have a more flexible digestive system that allows them to thrive on a variety of diets, including plant-based ones; cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they require nutrients found only in animal tissues to meet their nutritional needs. Hence although there are dogs in Rishikesh, cats are not seen as they can’t survive in a meatless city].
Satvik Food – pure, simple, and unprocessed vegetarian food, without the use of strong spices, onions, garlic, or any stimulating or intoxicating substances.
Many people from all over the world go to Rishikesh to do their Yoga Teacher’s Training (YTT)*, a city to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, absorb spiritual vibes of the place, and experience connection with the Divine. Training amidst the beauty of the Himalayas and holy banks of the Ganges will help unwind, relax, and explore your inner self; in the process rejuvenating your mind, body, and spirit [* There is no official government department that regulates the yoga industry. However, if you wish to join Yoga Alliance (an International Association for Yoga teachers) and be an accredited Yoga Instructor, you need to complete the minimal of a Yoga Alliance 200 hour certified YTT course].
Students undergoing Yoga Teachers Training (YTT) in Rishikesh.
Rishikesh gained worldwide attention when the Beatles came here in 1968, in search of salvation and to meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Come and visit Rishikesh, a place surrounded by the buzzing of spirituality and divinity, a place which connects you with the consciousness of the world.