If you know your downward facing dog from your cobra pose, you’ll probably be interested to know where the World Capital of yoga is!
The small town of Rishikesh in India’s northern state of Uttarakhand is officially recognised as the capital of yoga, thanks to excellent local ashrams (spiritual hermitages) that have played host to famous people from all over the world. The Beatles stayed at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi passed away in 2008.
Yoga is practiced by millions around the world to improve strength, flexibility and balance. Regular yoga sessions can also improve energy and circulation and reduce stress. It’s perfect for beginners and a good teacher will always run through the very basics. It’s also great for experienced yogis who can move into the poses with more flexibility and experience. And what better destination for a yoga retreat than Rishikesh!
Rishikesh is a holy town for Hindus and is also the gateway to the mighty Himalayas, nestled as it is in the foothills close to the iconic Ganges River. If you choose to stay in the town, there are plenty of cultural sights, such as the Triveni Ghat, where thousands come to bathe both morning ad night at the convergence of the three holy rivers; Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswathy. The town has an interesting collection of temples and religious buildings including the 13 storey high Trayambakeshwar Temple.
Rishikesh is also perfectly placed to offer eco holidays, thanks to the clean mountain air and challenging surroundings. Both beginners and experienced rafters alike can try white water rafting along a vast stretch of the Ganges. The best way to imbibe the local surroundings is to camp locally where you can then throw yourself into rappelling, rock climbing, cliff jumping and kayaking. Hire a local guide and try one of the soft trek trails which explore the dense forests and beautiful waterfalls, such as the one north of Lakshman Jhula, which you can see in the video below;
As you’d expect, the town caters very well for vegetarians with many cafes and restaurants offering organic food and drink. There are heath food shops and a wide variety of ashrams on which to stay and practice yoga. You can even gain your yoga teacher qualifications in Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is also the Gateway to the Himalayas and travellers can tackle the Char Dham Yatra (Four Shrines Sacred Journey) from Rishikesh.