A Girls’ Getaway to Rishikesh India
A Girls’ Getaway to Rishikesh India
Rishikesh India, a scenic hill town in the state of Uttarakhand, can truly change your perspective on life. Trying to take a break from our schedules, I and four friends planned an all-women getaway to Rishikesh. The week we spent there was life-changing. The hippie crowds, the stories of the Beatles visiting, to celebrities finding the meaning of life here… we had heard it all. But rarely did these stories contain women.
Known as an adventure and yoga hub in India, adventure sports enthusiasts and those seeking a divine connection are drawn to Rishikesh. The town is set along the banks of River Ganga, in the foothills of the Himalaya. In the first week of March, we packed our bags and took a bus to Rishikesh from Delhi. It was a six-hour overnight journey in a fully A/C bus.
Our holiday plans included river rafting in Rishikesh and learning all about yoga. Our first stop was the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, where the International Yoga Festival was being celebrated during the first week in March. Rishikesh is said to be the birthplace of yoga, and what’s better than learning the ancient wisdom in the holy settings?
The mystic science is not merely for our bodies but for mind, heart and soul, too. Literally meaning “union”, yoga is the union of breath with the body, mind with the muscles, and, most importantly, self with the divine. It’s not a religion or just exercises, chants and postures; it’s a way of life.
On arrival in the serene town, we headed towards the picturesque ashram along the River Ganga. Parmarth Niketan embodies bliss. It is the greatest place to truly learn the knowledge of yoga. There were people from all over the world there to find a connection between the self and the divine. The simple living conditions, rituals and the pure vegetarian food were a delightful change from our daily lives.
Yoga is the union of breath with the body, mind with the muscles, and, most importantly, self with the divine. It’s not a religion or just exercises, chants and postures; it’s a way of life.
The festival gave us an opportunity to practice over 70 hours of yoga from masters from all over the world. About 5000 years back, the founder of yoga, Patanjali, wrote about the eight branches of yoga. At the festival, there were courses and classes for the first seven of them. Apart from yoga, there were also classes on meditation, mudras, Sanskrit chanting, reiki, Indian philosophy and spirituality. The daily evening Ganga aarti (prayer ritual), cultural performances, chants and rituals were the highlight of our stay. We visited the holy temples, enjoyed sunsets, crossed the splendid bridges and had a relaxing time.
After a week of yogic bliss, it was time to take up the challenge of river rafting in Rishikesh. The river rafting capital of India, no matter whether you’re a novice or expert adventurer, Rishikesh offers the perfect rafting opportunities. There are 17 rapids of 4 grades on this stretch of the Ganga River. Grade 1 means easy navigation across mild streams, with almost no risk involved. Grade 2 rapids are marked with obstacles or rocks that can be easily maneuvered. Grade 3 rapids are reasonably adventurous and require good judgment. Grade 4 rapids are strong enough to tumble the raft.
We first headed to the camp where we kept our bags and geared up for the adventure. Accompanying us was a local guide, who instilled a little bit of bravery in us. Properly equipped with helmets and flotation jackets, we descended with our rafts to the river. The thrill was truly indescribable!
Midway through the rafting adventure, we were taken for another exciting sport: cliff jumping. The 10 foot jump into the chilly water of the River Ganga was truly amazing.
After a 24km stretch of rafting, we got to relax at the beachside camp. The murmuring sound of the river, the calls of the forest and the mountain and the sky full of stars as the evening drew in. The night was made more memorable with a bonfire, music, dancing and games.
If you truly want to experience bliss, then camping in Rishikesh provides that. You can explore the scenic surroundings, try some more thrilling adventure, meditate, try photography and soak in the beauty. The exhilarating range of adventure sports includes a flying fox, waterfall rappelling and bungee jumping.
With heavy hearts we farewelled the exciting destination, returning back to our lives. Let woman power shine in the holy city that is also the adventure hub of India!