Destination spa Ananda in the Himalayas is a short drive from Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga, in the far north of India. In Sanskrit, Rishikesh is a name of Lord Vishnu that means ‘lord of the senses‘.
A centre of spiritual and religious activities since ancient times, it became popular outside the subcontinent only a few decades ago. Ever since the 60s, when Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison (for those who have lived in another galaxy till now – The Beatles) showed up at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram to practice transcendental meditation, this quaint Himalayan town has become a ‘pilgrimage’ destination for enlightenment.
Known by many as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, it’s now packed full with internationally renowned ashrams, yoga and meditation classes luring in spiritual souls from all over the world. It is in fact believed that meditation at this place leads to attainment of salvation and an international ‘Yoga Week’ is organised here every year in the first week of February.
This exotic setting on the mighty sacred river Ganges – the living mother Goddess of India – surrounded by forested hills and peppered with temples along its banks, is conducive to meditation and mindfulness. But if you think all you’ll do is meditate in the lotus position, you’re very wrong. There’s a strong adventure side to Rishikesh; white water rafting, hiking, bungee jumping, fly foxing, cliff jumping, trekking, rock climbing are just some of the activities you can take up while on your way to Nirvana.
And when tired of all the hustle and bustle, you can retreat up the hill to peaceful Ananda in the Himalayas for a workshop with one of their international visiting masters, an Abhyanga treatment or a Hatha Yoga session.
Whatever your excuse to visit Northern India may be a) National Yoga Month this September b) following in the footsteps of the Fab Four ahead of the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper in 2017, the good news is you can make your trip as a rejuvenating and relaxing or as rockingly active as you wish.