Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Ellen
Everything feels fresh in Rishikesh. Fresh air, water, food, all fresh — with happy vibes. Budget slow travelers: Rishikesh is the best place I’ve been to in India so far.
My fellow Generation X-ers know what I mean when I say Rishikesh is FRESH. (Whatever happened to that nifty expression, anyway??) Where else will you see cows and bearded gurus soaking in the sun?
It’s literally fresh, too. Rishikesh is at the edge of the Himalaya range in northern India, far from the mega cities and ancient fort meccas we’ve visited over the last several months. Here is it calmer, cleaner, easier to feel spiritual. People walk around smiling and singing. Including me.
Rishikesh’s natural beauty is stunning. The Hindu-holy turquoise Ganges River in the valley, the white rocks and white sand beaches, the mountains that hold trails to waterfalls and viewpoints — all eye-candy, all soul soothers.
Rishikesh is FRESH for slow travel
In no particular order, these are the best parts for me, personally:
- February daytime temps 74-ish in the sun; night temps in 50s ——— PERFECT for me
- Relatively clean (not that much trash!)
- No crazy busy traffic (at this time of year, though the single main road is busy and not pedestrian friendly)
- Gorgeous hiking scenery with mountains and forests and waterfalls
- The amazing Ganges River
- Vegetarian restaurants everywhere
- No bars / loud parties
- Yoga centers and ashrams all over
And more. There is something about it. In the air. The water.
Yep, I love it here.
The spouse? Not so much.
“I want to wear flip flops and shorts and be warm,” he told me.
Me too, I guess… but after FOUR YEARS in hot and humid weather where I was always wet from sweat and hot flashes, this break in cooler air in Rishikesh is FRESH. It is divine.
Liquor limits and vegetarian food
There are two other big reasons spouse Theo is not crazy about Rishikesh. One: it’s meatless. No chicken or mutton on the menus — ever. (Beef is never on the menu in India, at least, not that we’ve seen. Cows are holy.)
Two: no liquor! There is one small ‘beer store’ outside Tapovan for takeaway, where yoga and wellness retreat attendees won’t ever see it. A few restaurants might serve beer in Rishikesh with dinner, but generally speaking, liquor and high alcohol content beer is not offered.
One of the more interesting places we’ve eaten was the Ever Green Salad Bar, where prices are ridiculously low compared to the USA and other western countries. When I lived in San Diego a decade ago, a basic salad at an average restaurant would have been 13.95!
Check out these prices; 80 rupees = $1.
(The restaurant lighting was green.)
One of the best things about early retirement is the time for continuous learning — time for new hobbies. And I am sampling some yoga classes while I’m in Rishikesh.
There are so many places that offer ‘drop-in’ classes – take your pick! From hatha to ashtanga and other types of yoga, it’s easy to find a class. Simply walk around the shops on both sides of the river for options. I picked one so far that cost about $4. It’s almost like going to a private class because Rishikesh is not busy now.
I’ve done a few long walks with Mom Diane (Theo’s mother) around town and up to some waterfalls. There are plenty of places to explore.
Mom Diane is a life-long trekker, so she’s enjoyed quite a bit of the area already while solo exploring. But we certainly will do more hiking together during the rest of this month.
Rafting and kayaking are big deals here. At some point, we plan to go with the flow of the Great Ganges River on a raft tour. Everyone we’ve seen gliding by looks happy — if somewhat cold. So stay tuned for more first-hand info on that activity in future posts.
February / Now
February is one of the best months to be here, along with March. Rishikesh is now gearing up for the Kayak Festival later in February, and the International Yoga Festival is in early March.
If Rishikesh didn’t get so hot and have an intense monsoon season (most activities are canceled because of the rain), I might stay forever.
Then again, NOTHING is forever… and so I’ll just enjoy today the best I can.
Life is Now!