Written By Sydney & Alex
After a 4 day track through the cold, dry Himalayas, a week of yoga and exploring Rishikesh was just what this group needed! It’s easy to understand why this place is regarded a sacred! Lush, green forest stretches from the mountain tops to the shores of the Ganges. The smells of incense fill the town and you can hear the insects wherever you go. Teaming with life, this gorgeous city just offers endless opportunities for us to explore. We began our adventure by walking to the Laxman Jhula suspension bridge to cross the Ganges River. The bridge was built in 1930 and said to be at the exact spot where the goddess Laxmi crossed the Ganga. Monkeys climbed over our heads as we crossed the bounding bridge. The mystical greenish colored Ganges looks so inviting that Shiva himself seems to call you into the water. From the bridge, we made our way to the ashram visited by the Beatles themselves in the late 1960s. Chaurasi Kutiya Ashram has since been turned into a nature center by Rajaji Tiger reserve, but they still open their doors to visitors curious to see where the Beatles spent time learning the power of meditation; for a pretty steep price anyway.
After one day of exploring the city, we packed our bags and headed a little way up the river to Phool Chatti Ashram. Situated right on the Ganges, Phool Chatti offers spectacular views and some pretty amazing yoga classes led by the one and only Lalita Ji. We spent the week stretching our bodies and minds to the limit through hours of meditation and yoga, which started at 6 AM each morning. Every day had a strict schedule that only allowed for two hours of free time, but our time was filled with fun activities such as a spiritual dip in the Ganga and a class on laughing yoga. In order to facilitate a better environment reflection, we were asked to keep the ashram silent from 9 PM to 1 PM the following day. All of our meals were eaten in silence as well. It was challenging keeping up with such a rigorous schedule and rules but we all got a lot from the experience. Tired and sore we headed back to Rishikesh for a few more nights. Once we got some rest we got to do some pretty amazing activities! Including a hike to the beautiful Neer Garth waterfall and a day trip to the nearby Tibetan settlement of Clement Town.
Our time and Rishikesh came to a close on the 26th and from there we took a seven-hour train ride to the beautiful city of Amritsar, to visit the Golden Temple, the main temple of the Sikh religion. Amritsar is such a big city filled with a mix of Muslim and Hindu architecture. The streets are clean and the buildings are decorated in string lights for the festival of Diwali. Diwali is celebrated by both Sikhs and Hindus but for different reasons. Its a festival of lights and it’s believed that by lighting to illuminate the home, wealth will enter. There are fireworks and the children get a holiday from school. It’s really a magical time to be in Amritsar. We are all excited to see where our time here will take us.
Sydney and Alex