001. Welcome to Rishikesh- a little town nestled in the foothills of mountains with the crystal clear, bright blue, icy Ganga running through it. Also more commonly referred to as the yoga capital of India (or even the world?!), where yogis in tights are more common than cows. Rishikesh is a lovely little haven fill with (yeah a lot of westerners) but also lovely green hills, sandy river banks, yoga studios on every corner, small cows (which are extra cute) and delicious healthy food.
002. The main town of Rishikesh isn't actually the part of Rishikesh backpackers refer to when staying in the town. Laxman Jhula is one area people choose to stay, which is straight across from the bridge on the more northern side. It is filled with lots of funky places to eat, shop and yogi your heart out. We stayed at Sonu Guesthouse which had the loveliest room for a super cheap price, plus a little communal kitchen and yoga studio to play around in upstairs. Ram Jhula is the other main area on the southern side directly across another bridge. It is closer to the Swargashram area and is generally a little quieter than the main Laxman Jhula area. We stayed at a place here called Sudesh Guesthouse which was basic and affordable, also with a shared kitchen and yoga hall. Both areas of town are walking distance to each other, so you really can't go wrong with either option.
003. While in Rishikesh we chilled at a lot of cafes, along the river, on rooftops and in yoga halls. If you are vegan and find yourself in Rishikesh you will be spoilt for choice, thanks to all the health conscious yogis. Our favourite place hands down was the Pumpernickel Bakery/Babylon Restaurant which had SO many healthy vegan options, in generous portion sizes and lots of delicious vegan sweets in the cabinet too. The 'reeses' peanut butter cookie dough balls will change your life. The Juice House down in Ram Jhula end was incredibly cheap and delicious. It had oats topped with loads of fruit and the cheapest (and biggest) soy chai in town. Little Buddha was also another funky little place that always was busy and had a good vibes, along with really generous serving sizes. Food prices in Rishikesh were definitely not as cheap as other places we visited in India, but all of it was super healthy and wholesome food, so it was nice to enjoy the taste of health in between the constant curry-coma.
004. It was my 21st birthday while in Rishikesh, which actually still sounds a little surreal to say because birthdays don't really seem like they happen when you are already mid-way through a trip halfway across the world! We decided to splurge a little ($12 each) and visit the Maharishi Mahesh Ashram (better known as the Beatles Ashram). These days it's abandoned, with plants taking over the buildings and independent artists making their mark. I loved the whole experience- worth every penny! The architecture of the buildings and the meditation pods were beautiful. We even had a little rooftop birthday picnic with aforementioned life-changing-cookie-dough-balls. Exploring all the hidden rooms and discovering art intertwined with the surrounding nature was just magic!
005. Stay tuned for the next post on the trip... a 2 hour taxi ride and 15 hour bus away!