Rishikesh – Gateway to the Himalayas

Rishikesh is a small town in northern India. Aka as “the yoga capital of the world”. It is where the Ganges River comes down from the Himalaya. When you google Rishikesh most results will display the words “yoga” or “ashram”.  Lonely planet explains it this way: “Rishikesh is very New Age: you can learn to play the sitar or tabla on your hotel roof; try laughing yoga; practise humming or gong meditation; experience crystal healing and all styles of massage; have a go at chanting mantras; and listen to spiritually uplifting CDs as you sip Ayurvedic tea with your vegetarian meal.
But it’s not all spiritual. Rishikesh is now a popular white-water rafting centre, backpacker hang-out, and gateway to treks in the Himalaya.”

We chose the active option – white-water rafting on the Ganges. We booked it all in Delhi and I don’t think any of us knew what to expect. Definitely not my father. I guess he would have not agreed to it if he knew. So, off we went. It was a mere 6 hours drive from Delhi in our Mercedes.. Oh no.. not what you think.. In Germany this trip might have taken us 2 hours, 3 hours max..But not in India where you have to give way to Rishkas and cows on the street. When finally getting there, it was all worth it. The scenery is breath-taking with the Himalayas in the background. We stayed at Camp 5 Elements.  A luxury version of camping.  It may very well be the most romantic beach camp on earth (just too bad that I went with my brother and dad and not with a romantic date).

Location of our camp

Rafting on the Ganges is a different kind of experience. You pass temples on your way, then you pass a naked hermit praying in the middle of nowhere and then women washing clothes on the shore.

Ganges from above

It was an amazing side  trip within our India trip, worth the long ride to get there. And even my father, very sceptical about the whole thing that his kids have organised, enjoyed himself, even to the point where he took part in a game of beach volleyball.

My only recommendation: do it earlier in the year. We went end of October and it was already getting quite chilly, especially at night. Summertime is probably even better – downside: probably also much busier.

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