Published: January 4th 2012December 27th 2011
Arrived at the hotel in Rishikesh at 04:30 in the morning to find a closed gate so the driver instinctively started blasting on his horn right outside, I eventually jumped round the gate to try the door and stop the drivers honking and someone finally appeared to let us in. All the staff were asleep in the foyer. The bag boy was shouted awake to show us to our room so we gave a nice 20 rupee tip (we took the bags ourselves), we felt bad enough just waking him up. Already the favourite guests in the hotel.
Woke up and did the standard stroll through the town to have a look around find something to eat. Another cool place, pretty relaxed again and there's a couple of long pedestrain suspension bridges high up over the Ganga, also used by cows... and bikes... and scooters. On such a crowded narrow bridge it's quite difficult to spot the cowpat before it's too late...
Reaching the other side we were greeted with the (now common) practice of having our photo taken by the various Indian tourists also visiting the area. For once we got a photo as well, and finally can see just how much we stand out. Theres alot of Westerners bounding around Rishikesh, mostly more spiritual types which have been hanging around this quaint town for a little longer than just a couple of weeks. Scored a charm to add to the collection for my bracelet and wandered a long 3kmish back round to the hotel.
Duncan & Becca x
'Relaxing' yoga and veggie munches
Today we were on a mission to find a place to do some yoga, seeing as we were at the epicentre of yoga in the whole world. We also wanted to see if we could check out the famous Ganga Arti which is a ceremony which takes place everyday at sundown. After reading a tad (touching up on the non-existent tan) and playing a game of chess, which I lost... AGAIN, we headed into town to find a certain ashram which was mentioned in the Lonely Planet.
We grabbed some lunch at the Ganga Beach Cafe which is a really nice little beach hut on the Ganges with an Arabian feel in one part of the cafe where we sat on the ground surrounded by covers and cushions. We found the ashram quite easily but the classes were at set times, 4-6.30pm or 8-9.30am. As we had anoter day in Rishikesh we decided to put off the prayer to the Ganges and do the afternoon class.
Our teacher was named Dilip and seemed most friendly. He stretched every crease out of both of us and taught us some handy beginners sequences for us to keep up ourselves at home. Dunc and I are as such ying and yang though when it came to the two essential parts of yoga, I can't balance and Dunc is pretty inflexible (he can't cross his legs when sitting on the floor). And so each saw the other excell in the opposite skills (jealous much?). After enjoying the lesson we arranged to also take part in the morning class as well. Wandering back to find some dinner Dunc got approached by a barber 'Hello haircut?' ...not his name, but definately what Dunc needed. Now he fits in with the rest (although he did reject the offer to dye his hair black to completely go the full hog).
Trusting the Lonely Planet we went in search of the Little Buddha Cafe for some grub (starving after the excercise). It was a really beautiful and most typical place. Once again with an Arabian-sit-on-the-floor theme but then more dressed like a pretty treehouse. The food took a good hour to arrive, but it was worth it when it did!
Tomorrow up early!
Yes... everything hurts
'Rise and shine! It's butt whipping time!'... hardly, along with the fact I felt I couldn't move a muscle, they also ached something quite bad. But, maybe... just maybe it would all disappear during the lesson. Ahhh the optimism! The lesson was quite similair to the last but we learnt a few more twists and other excercises to enhance other areas of the body. Dilip had promised there would be more stretching than balancing today but I didn't seem to notice this as I struggled to keep myself upright. The lesson was quite a push and maybe a push too far for me that time but Dunc felt revitalised again. So much for revitalisation as we got back to the hotel to shower and change but ended up nodding off for a further 3 hours!
Inbetween games of chess we decided to head to the other side of the river to seek out a certain cafe with sheesha pipes. Not finding said cafe but enjoying a quick chat with one of pilgrims who was evidently in love with Bollywood. We stumbled accross a quirkly little place called the Pyriamd. Here, along with amazingly tasty food, they also rented out large pyriamd tents to sleep in (although quite tempting, I'm sure the temperature at the moment during the night would be quite unbearable). Rishikesh being a spirtual and most holy place sporting many multi-storey temples, is completely vegetarian. We came to find here that we don't really notice missing the meat (specially when you don't have a choice anyway) as the dishes that have been served here were delicious and filling.
After another intense game of chess (yes... I lost) we found ourselves in quite a rush to find a vikram to travel to the Ganga Arti. We payed a little over the recommended price but we didn't want to miss what we have been told by everyone to see. We arrived at the beach near the river just before the ceremony (even though we thought we might have already missed it). A prayer was called out on a microphone and accompanied by chiming bells which were also set up on the beach. The prayer ceremony was an act of worship to the Ganges. Many women and children approached the river with large leaves full of flowers and a candle to let flow down the fast stream. Multi towered brass flame holders (see the photos) were held up and swirled around whilst the prayer was made. In the dark of the setting sun this was quite a sight. We also received flowers from the priests and partakers in the ceremony to make our own blessing to the river. All in all, very glad this wasn't missed.
We ate dinner at the Ganga Beach Cafe as we knew the food was good here. After being the only customers for an hour we heard the heavy tone of a Irishman asking for something small as he had already stuffed himself with chicken. The slightly nutty (as for some reason, all Irish just seem to be) excentric bloke made a brief chat with us explaining his day of killing chicken, drinking beer and his love for India and (although he swore never to marry... knock on wood) his infactuation with his Hindi teacher. He wished us well on our way and we set back off to the hotel to pack our bags and sleep for the next morning we have to be up early again to catch the train to Delhi.
Before we had left the hotel for dinner we had tried to make a henna solution to make some designs on our hands later in the night. Trying out the gloopy green mix we came to realise it would only turn our hands orange and give the impression that we are suffering with jaundice or the like. Maybe tomorrow I will try and get a proper job done in Delhi if we see a stand somewhere.