Rishikesh is a geographically small but spiritually important city in Northern India at the foothills of the Himalayas. Spanning the holy River Ganges, it is a pilgrimage spot for Hindus and spiritual seekers alike.
The city is full of ashrams, home to orange-clad saddhus, organic cafés serving vegetarian cuisine, and yoga studios. It is a place to find quiet, to find inspiration, and to simply be present in the moment.
Four hours by train and seven by car from New Delhi, just getting to Rishikesh can be an adventure that leads through rural roads congested with ox-drawn farm carts, speeding scooters, and giant trucks.
The main town is situated between two suspension bridges: the Laxman Jula and Ram Jula. In between is a near-constant bustle of tourist traffic, combined with roving cows, pigs and monkeys. Shops selling all sorts of local handicrafts line the narrow streets with vendors calling out to come and have a look at their merchandise.
Ginger, lemon honey tea is the most popular refreshment of choice on cold winter days when the weather hovers in the 60's. Rishikesh is both a vegetarian and dry, meaning no alcohol is served within its limits. It's nearly impossible to spend more than $5 on one meal. One place not to be missed is the German Bakery, situated on a bluff overlooking the Laxman Jula. Serving both Indian and continental cuisine, it's a perch from which to observe to slow moving life below. Just next-door is a famous book shop selling all sorts of spiritual tomes.