Chilling In Rishikesh

Rishikesh has to be one of my all time favorite places. It’s extremely relaxed, moving at a pace so slow it’s only just short of irritating, and it costs next to nothing to stay. The locals are more interested in yoga than hassling tourists, and half of them are dressed in bright orange and clamouring the sides of the Ganges on their great spiritual journey. Helena and I, on the other hand, spend our days relaxing in mountain and river view restaurants up on the hillsides, writing up articles/ theses and sipping cold drinks. What more can you ask for!

In fact, in three days here, we’ve rarely ventured more than a few hundred metres from our hotel room. Yesterday I got up in the morning and decided I wanted to climb the hill overlooking the town, but that’s about as much activity as I’ve bothered with. The hill climb was totally pathless, and averaged a good 30 degrees (several bits were more than 45). I just kept climbing until there was nowhere else to go, scrambling over loose rocks and pushing up on trees. I got in a minor territorial dispute with the local monkey population (far more fun when you’re not on a 45 degree slope – those monkeys move fast!) and spent a relaxing half hour sat on a tiny cliff edge high above the town listening to music and watching the world go by below, my t-shirt shredded and skin scratched from pushing through the forest. Heaven.

We’re staying in the jewellery district, which no doubt sounds bizarre, but it’s a tiny, stepped, traffic-free road winding up a hillside, and we have views all the way down to Haridwar (20kms away) from the balcony outside our bedroom window. The restaurant serves huge portions of multinational food, and is decked up like a tiny hippy paradise. One day we just sat there for hours watching the first rain of the monsoon splash against the temple opposite and listening to the thunder. It seems to be a very early monsoon storm, as it’s been a one off so far – there’s been no more rain since.

Another day we wondered up to the nearest temple, a 13 story cliff-side monster of a thing with endless rows of statues of Hindu Gods that look oddly like they’re from a theme park, and another stunning, panoramic Ganga view. You can even opt to stay in the temples, though the pressure to wonder around the sites and get involved in the more religious side of it will no doubt keep us in our 3 Euro a night room.

It’s difficult to describe just how lazy life is here. We have vague plans to hire a bike and head for the hills, go swimming in waterfalls and maybe even rafting on the river, but it’s so easy to let the days drift by in the (far more bearable) heat, just staring out at the mountains views and putting together a few articles. I invariably order ‘special Israeli’ breakfasts in the morning, lemon sodas in the afternoon and wonder the streets, intermittently dodging cows and motorbikes for the rest of the day. It’s a strange combination of surprisingly productive work time and extremely laziness, and it’s fantastic.

It’s hard to see us moving on for at least a week; not before we’ve done some motor biking, perhaps a touch of early morning yoga and spent a few more days just living.

Life is good. So good I don’t have a whole lot to tell you about, so ‘til next time!

James x

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