The crazy amount of activity offered in and around Rishikesh

The town of Rishikesh, about an hour East of Haridwar, is supposed to be the ‘ Yoga Capital of the world’ and has been a tourist magnet since around when the Beatles stayed here for two months to write their beloved White Album. The town itself is nothing special but the riverside communities upstream are where all the action is: typical bamboo porches with views over the Ganga river, comfortable cushions to sit on the floor, tons of food options and signs outside listing the insane number of activities that are offered in addition to yoga. To make things easier for everyone, I’ve tried to make a complete list divided into categories.

Food

Starting with the most obvious 😉 No matter what your favorite dish is, they will make it for you. The menus in the various restaurants are immensely long, but just ask nicely for any changes and it’s not a problem. To name a few of the popular cuisines on offer:

  • Indian
  • Tibetan
  • Chinese
  • Mexican
  • Italian

Although we love Thali, we kind of fell in love with the Israeli food, humus, falafel and fresh salad, that’s what we like. Guess we know where to travel next.

Beauty

When you need to feel like a princess instead of a smelly backpacker for a while. The beauty treatments you can get vary fom the standard Indian to exotic local specialties:

  • Facial
  • Pedicure
  • Manicure
  • Henna hair
  • Henna hands or feet
  • Eyebrows

For the men a local specialty; ear cleaning on the street.

Massage

Want to spoil your body? It seems like we need all of this to stay healthy and happy:

  • Abhayangam (with herbal oils)
  • Ayurvedic (detox and stress reduction)
  • Deep tissue
  • Swedish
  • Foot reflexology
  • Herbal
  • Shirodhara (pouring liquid onto your forehead)

Outdoor

Offering half-, full- or even multi-day trips with camping, the possibilities are endless in this category. In groups or with a private tour, there is much fun to be had in the surrounding nature.

  • Trekking
  • Rafting
  • Bungee-jumping
  • Zipline
  • Cliff-jumping (read: canyoning)
  • Climbing
  • Rappelling
  • Kayaking
  • Parasailing & paragliding

Healing

If you’re into a more spiritual experience:

  • Meditation
  • Laughing therapy
  • Numerology
  • Crystal healing
  • Aroma therapy

Shopping

Set among all the little cafes and restaurants are some travel-agencies but the majority of street-facing properties are filled with all kinds of little shops. From cheap tourist crap to super fancy and everything in between:

  • Clothing and other textile
  • Yoga necessities
  • Tribal jewelry
  • Metal crafts
  • Stone pottery
  • Cane & bamboo
  • Gifts and novelties

Music

Always a way to combine other activities or just meet some new people:

  • Humming
  • Jambe
  • Flute
  • Harmonium
  • Didgeridoo

All kinds of courses

If you want to learn something new, that’s an option too! Taking instruction from a couple of hours to full months, some even include internationally recognized certificates:

  • Yoga teacher
  • Reiki
  • Henna artist
  • Language teacher (Hindi or English)
  • Indian cooking class

So if I tell you that we stayed here for 4 days, you might think we had a very busy schedule, right? But to be honest, we just ate a lot of falafel, went to a yoga class, drove a motorbike around the region, and watched the Ganga river go by.We tried to find the Ashram where the Beatles stayed but thought the entrance fee was ridiculous. We watched the ganga aarti (a nightly fire offering) by Swarg Niwas temple from the Lakshman Jhula hanging bridge filled with friendly monkeys. We played a game of throwing stones at little piles of rocks with some locals in a small waterfall. One evening while having dinner a proper Swami with blue turban, bare chest and a big sword walked into the restaurant. Another night when we came home from dinner, all the streetdogs all of a sudden seemed upset and started barking, and when we went to look what all the commotion was about a big pig ran through the street. So we had plenty of adventure, just nothing planned through an agency 😉

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