Rishikesh: My Tryst with Wellness

Rishikesh is one place which had skipped my travel itinerary for long, so when I received an invitation from Ganga Kinare, a boutique hotel, to attend the International Yoga Week recently, I jumped at the offer. More than wellness, I personally associate yoga with weight loss as this has been a long lost battle for me so far. With high hopes and strong determination, I headed to Rishikesh – the hub of yoga and wellness, almost sure this time I was going to nail it right.


Photo by djandyw.com


Though conceived by most as a destination for river rafting and religious tourism, Rishikesh has a complete different side to it. I was amazed to see so many international tourists swarming here in search of inner peace. There were many groups from California, Germany and Belgium who had come to attend the International Yoga Festival. They were happy attending yoga sessions, lectures and relishing on complete vegetarian ‘sadhya’ meal. On asking if they missed their non-vegetarian spread they were quick to add that they enjoyed every bit of the green fare. (I missed my butter chicken badly though!) Dian Keegan, who had come from California as part of a 14-member group said she has been practicing yoga and meditation for the last 10 years. “Yoga has changed my life for good. I have become a calmer and kinder person. I like the calmness of Rishikesh. The Ganga flowing by and ever smiling people here make you come back to Rishikesh again and again”, said Keegan. Tourists come here and enroll themselves at the many ashrams and yoga for a complete wellness vacation.


Photo by Florina Soren


As for my experience; it was sweet and sour. The ambience in Rishikesh is healing–just sitting by the Ganga, attending evening aarti at one of the many ghats itself is purifying. But for me waking up at 5 AM for a yoga session was a tall order. Even after multiple alarms, I could leave the bed only after 10 AM. Thankfully there was a lecture on mental wellness by experts and I was on time for this at least! I entered the fully packed room, (again mostly with foreign guests) thinking if not physical wellness (read weight loss) I can at least aim towards mental well-being. Needless to say the discourse put to rest many of my worries about life and its madness. I felt rejuvenated already.


Photo by Florina Soren


The evening trip to Ram Jhula area was another eye opener. The roads all along had signboards of yoga, meditation and Indian music classes. The shops too were stocked up with wellness and organic products; from ayurvedic medicines, books on yoga and albums on spiritual music, the choices were unending. It was no secret that people came here in search of well-being. How I wished I could extend my one-day trip to a month and take up music classes here. I also met a Japanese couple who have settled here and after learning Indian classical music for three years, they take classes and also perform at local functions. They have made Rishikesh their home like so many others for whom life is all about physical and mental well-being, about peace and tranquillity.


Photo by Florina Soren


With the thought that I too will do the same sometime down the line, I headed back to the hotel for the evening aarti at the banks of the Ganga. Because this was a private area of Ganga Kinare, the place was all the more peaceful. The chanting of mantras, the sound of gushing waters and the setting sun far away; everything was so therapeutic. Tomorrow is another day. Surely, I did not lose a pound yet again, but yes I gained inner peace like never before.


By Florina Soren


About the Author: Her mantra in life is never to stop.