After several weeks of work in Jaipur, I took a weekend off and jumped on the night train to Haridwar. Upon arrival, I left my luggage in a hotel before continuing to tiny Rishikesh where I wanted to spend the afternoon.
Rishikesh is a holy place for Hindus and according to legend Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana did penance here for killing Ravana, the king of Lanka. One of the town’s landmarks is the suspension bridge Lakshman Jhula, constructed at the place where Lakshmana is believed to have crossed the Ganges. Just next to the bridge stands the impressive multi-story Trayambakeshwar Temple, which offers great views of the river valley. I walked south along the Ganges up to the old ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi where the Beatles meditated in the 60s and wrote a couple of songs. After crossing the Ganges again via a second suspension bridge, the Ram Jhula, I took an autorickshaw back to Haridwar where I arrived just after sunset.
Since the Beatles visited Rishikesh, the town has become a major tourist destination. Even though you find a lot of ashrams offering yoga or meditation classes, I had the feeling that it’s all about business and much less about true spiritual experiences. Although there were many visitors in Rishikesh, it was still nothing compared to Haridwar – as I should find out on the following day.