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Rishikesh Part II

Despite my stolen mobile, I must move on and look at all the good things about Rishikesh. From a different view, here is a history of what I know about this place.

Rishikesh lies in the foothills of the Himalayas at Uttarakhand state of India where the famous head of the Hindi name Ganga River begins; also internationally known by its Anglicized name as “The Ganges”. The Ganges is the most holy river of the Hindus. It flows east through one of the most fertile and densely populated tracts through the Gangetic plain of northern India into Bangladesh. It flows from Uttarakhand into Varanasi, Bihar, Kolkata then drains into the Sunderbands Delta in the Bay of Bengal. It is a wide and sluggish stream and 1,560 miles (2,510 kilometers) long.

It is the home of many devout Hindus and many major Indian ashrams like Vivekananda, Sivananda (The Divine Life Society), Osho, Bihar amongst others. It is also called the Yoga Capital of the World. People here have religion on their minds. You can feel the ambience of sacredness and holiness. There are also many wandering sadhus (even foreigners). Even their river bank is absolutely clean (not like Varanasi). Live temple chanting, aarti ceremonies and you can hear chants across the water well after dark. Camphor flames, pujas and offerings throughout the night leave picturesque silhouettes. It is also becoming a popular rafting spot. People are quick to say hello, namaste or Hari OM.

The many ashrams on both sides of the river offer bookshops, restaurants and daily yoga. Because it is a holy city and the yoga capital, Rishikesh is fully vegetarian. You can not even find eggs or chicken here. The International Yoga Festival is on March 1-7. So if you are a yogi, would you feel at home here?

Rishikesh is also famous for the 1968 visit of the Beatles. They stayed at the (now closed) Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram. They composed nearly 48 songs during their stay including Revolution. Rishikesh, also known as Hrishikesh is a municipal board in Dehradun district in Uttarakhand, abbreviated as U.K. It is located around 25 kilometers away from another holy city, Haridwar. It is famous as a piligrimage center and the starting point for traveling to the sites that form the Char Dham pilgrimage — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. Hrishikesh is a Vishnu name that means “Lord of the Senses. It has been a part of the legendary 'Kedarkhand', now called Garhwal, the abode of Shiva.

At one point, the present Laxman Jhula bridge was crossed by Lord Rama when he did penance for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka and Lakshmana, his younger brother. The bridge, was once a jute-rope bridge in 1889. It was washed away by the 1924 floods and is now replaced with a stronger iron bridge (built in the 1980s). The western bank of the bridge has a Lakshmana temple and across it lies a temple dedicated to Lord Rama. A nearby temple is that of his other brother, Bharata which also finds mention in the Kedar Khand.

I plan on “parking” here for a while and look for a place to study. By this time, my runny nose and irritated eyes (compliments of Varanasi) got really worse. For the next three days, I spent my time walking back and forth across Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula. My original abode is at Ram Jhula, across the bridge from Sivananda, a five minute walk. Finally, I was admitted at Sri Sant Sewa Ashram in Laxman Jhula. I will study Reiki and Advance Yoga there and Ayurveda next door. Laxman Jhula is five kilometers away and a 20 minute walk. I don’t mind the walk at all but my classes starts in the morning and ends at 8:00 pm. The path is quite dark and remote. I also do not have much free time so I have no choice but to shift hotel.

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