If you asked me to describe Rishikesh using only three words, I’d say, “Bazaar. Cold. Diarrhea.”
I know, there are a lot of girls who loves Rishikesh very much, but, sorry, girls), I don’t like it and that’s why.
Bazaar. Yoga Bazaar.
When I decided to come to Rishikesh, my goal was spiritual growth and meditations study. I expected to get divine experience in Rishikesh. Before coming there I had visited lots of meditations with different teachers in Thailand and a retreat in Dipabhavan Meditation Centre. So, I’d had some experience. When I came to Rishikesh I understood immediately that there is no spirituality here, I got a feeling that I was in a big and noisy marketplace where the main commodity was yoga courses. Yes, yoga in Rishikesh is a commodity, and not something spiritual. Everybody is trying to sell you Yoga Alliance certificate. It’s a business, not yoga. My impression was confirmed by Swami Yogaswarupananda, the main yogi in Sivananda Ashram, who told me that there were no real yoga in Rishikesh these days. The same opinion had all the tourists and other yogis with whom I discussed this topic. Nevertheless, if your goal is just to get a Yoga Alliance certificate in India, it’s the best place to do it. The standard price for one month course is $1500, and you will get a certificate even if you don’t have previous experience. Everybody who has $1,500 can buy Yoga Alliance TTC in Rishikesh, and just in one month you can become a yoga teacher). No experience is required! Welcome)!
Cold. Very cold.
I was in Rishikesh in November. It’s very very cold there! It’s warm only from 11.00 AM to 4 PM, all the other time I was frozen to death. The rooms in most hotels there are not heated and inside the room the temperature the same as outside (5-7 degrees). I slept under two blankets, in woolen socks and in my clothes, but it didn’t help. If you want to take a shower, you should hurry up as you have hot water only the first several minutes. Usually you start taking shower with hot water and finish frozen to death with cold water. I lived in Hill Top Swiss Hotel, and it’s not the bad choice, it’s good, but it’s Rishikesh. Most hotels here are not heated. Welcome)!
Diarrhea. I Love You, My Dear Diarrhea)!
If you want to learn yoga in Rishikesh, diarrhea is a part of the package). Almost a whole month I had diarrhea every day. I know that it sounds not very romantic and spiritual, but it’s life). I am not a yogi who can eat food that was prepared with dirty hands in insanitary conditions and be ok. I studied at Shree Mahesh Heritage Meditation School and at one wonderful day all the students didn’t come to lessons as they had diarrhea, and even Indian cook who prepared the food was sick). When I lived in Goa for 5 months, me, my family and all my friends had poisoning, abdominal pains and diarrhea very often, I’d say too often. Unfortunately, Indians are uncleanly people, and you have to take precautions to be ok. To avoid problems with digestion, do not eat fresh food, eat only boiled or fried food. But, of cause, if you want to clean yourself, eat everything and drink raw water, but please, do not forget to take anthelmintics pills and immodium with you to Rishikesh. You’ll need them badly to finish your yoga course).
That were the main negatives. Now I’ll share the positives. Some magic things happened to me here. And these things made me happy:
– I got three very good friends (two yogis with whom we decided to make a business together and a very kind and lovely Australian lady whom I love very much);
– I led two first meditation classes in my life (1. anapanasati + loving kindness, 2. satanama + sat narayn), people loved them very much, gave me a lot of support and I felt that this is my vocation;
– Before coming to Rishikesh, I suffered a lot because of my very unhealthy relationships, but I learnt not to give in to pain and as a result I learnt to feel myself very very happy in spite of anything;
– Everything is very cheap in India;
– I love Indians very much: they are so kind, warm, open and sincere.