Rishikesh is absolutely beautiful. A bustling little town nestled in the foot hills of the Himalayas. The Ganges river runs right through it on the way to Varanasi, and beyond to the Bay of Bengal.
It took us 19 hours, and six modes of transport to get up to Rishikesh from Varanasi. It was totally worth it!
We got in at 8am and checked into Ishan Hotel after a last minute decision to forego the ashram and get a hotel room on the river. This is the nicest place we've been in India, newly renovated and modernized with a semi private balcony overlooking the river, for only 1000 rupees a night. Basically we are each paying $7.50 for a very nice room, in a prime spot. Score!
Rishikesh is known for yoga, with yoga schools and classes all over town. Signs are everywhere. I can see 7 or 8 from my balcony alone.
My goal is to try a different yoga class each day. The first day we went to Yoga Vini, a little studio on the other side of the river, visible from our balcony. It came recommended from a traveler we met at our 2-hour-wait lunch fiasco.
Our Hatha teacher Metra was excellent. His class focused on alignment and his adjustments were spot on. We built up to playing with pincha mayurasana and I had a lot of fun with it. He was a little touchier with the girls than the guys, but I truly felt his intentions were genuinely set to help us get more from our yoga practice. 2 hours for 200 rupees ($3.00)
Our second class was also a Hatha class. We stopped in at OmKarananda Dharma Samsthan on the other side of the river, a very large yoga training school facility that has multiple 200, 300, and 500 hour courses going on in any one of their 4 yoga halls. The room we were in was a big and bright tiled room overlooking a beautiful stretch of the river. The teacher Shankar was friendly and attentive, but the class was very, very basic.
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Nick and I, along with a guy from Canada did simple seated shoulder, ankle, and neck rolls for almost an hour before we stood up to do 3 rounds of sun salutations, then savasana. The pace was perfect for Nick, but I really need something more. If it had been any more than 200 rupees I'd have been pissed!
On night one we learned that the town pretty much goes to sleep as soon as the sun sets, so we had dinner at Purple Dhaba, chatted with a lovely couple we met in Bodhgaya, Henrietta from Germany and Guy from Israel.
On day 2 we rented motorbikes and had a fucking awesome day! The freedom! I think that's a huge part of what I love about Rishikesh. There aren't rickshaw drivers harassing you everywhere, and the roads are clear enough that I feel safe driving a scooter. 350 rupees a day buys us incredible freedom in a hilly town that just begs to be explored!
We also met our new sitar teacher Narayan at the Narayan School of Music just up the hill from our hotel (but too far to walk easily). What a great lesson we had together. We worked on our strumming and learned 9 new exercises. He was more mature and patient that Hardick and we are so excited to play with him for the next week (or more!)
Rishikesh has such a cool vibe, and I wouldn't be surprised if we stayed here a little longer than a week. I just wish it wasn't so cold in the morning and at night. Despite the cold we booked a river rafting trip for tomorrow. And considering that my toes have been frozen all day, even in my camel-toe socks, I'm a little nervous about it.
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