The city of Rishikesh, located amidst mountains, surrounded by greenery on 3 sides and river Ganges on the fourth side in the state of Uttarakhand is well known across the world as the epic center of yoga. People from the yoga community also call Rishikesh as world capital of yoga. There are a number of ashrams and schools that teach yoga and meditation to one and all, irrespective of their caste, religion or country. The field of yoga is so vast that it’s almost next to impossible to learn all its kinds, but the most popular ones among students as well as tourists are Hatha/Hatho, Vinyasa, Iyanger, Ashtanga and Kundalini yoga.
Rishikesh pulled the attention of the world to it when a western musical band ‘The Beatles’, stayed at the now closed Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in 1968. During their stay at the ashram, ‘The Beatles’ composed many songs there, many of which later appeared on the ‘White Album’. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1917 – 2008), also introduced a new kind of meditational technique which came to be known as the Transcendental Meditation technique.
Parmarth Niketan is the biggest ashram of Rishikesh, led by Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, and holds the famous annual International Yoga Festival jointly with Uttarakhand Tourism department. Ganga Aarti in front of a massive statue of lord Shiva, takes place every evening where hundreds of people flock the banks of river Ganga to participate and offer their tributes to the sacred river Ganga. People watch the aarti even from the twin bridges namely Ram Jhula and Lakshman jhula, which appear on both sides of the Ganges ad are always brimming with life in form of people walking through them on foot and on two-wheelers.
It is an exciting event to participate and watch where pandits chant and wave oil lamps at the sun set, and after dark everyone is invited to release small offerings- small light wooden baskets filled with flowers, leaves, coconut, aroma sticks and lamp- on the strong currents of the holy Ganga River.
Those who are of adventurous and thrill kind, too have a place called Shivpuri, famous for river rafting. Every summer, thousands of tourists, both- national and international, throng Shivpuri to get a taste of river rafting. Trekking and hiking and camping expeditions are also carried out by various agencies in and around Rishikesh.
Rishikesh has such a strong spiritual magnetic pull that whoever comes here, tries to stay as much time and as many days as possible. Out here, people feel close and connected to God and nature amidst pristine natural beauty. Such is the essence of spiritual fervor that people keep coming to Rishikesh again and again every year & that is why it is called the world capital of Yoga.
Author: Yogi Chetan Mahesh