Traditionally, Rishikesh has attracted Hindu pilgrims, yoga enthusiasts, meditation students, and those seeking enlightenment.
But recently the town has lured digital nomads and other location independent. Its combination of affordable accommodation, healthy activities, and beautiful setting in the mountains above the Ganges River make it a fine base for weeks or months.
Connectivity in Rishikesh is not spectacular. But it was sufficient for getting my work done each day. Very few cafes have Wi-Fi, so you should rely on your guesthouse to supply your internet. Most guesthouses only have internet for set hours during the day and a few charge extra for it. Speeds are not fast, but not too slow, either. With so-so Internet, maybe this is the time for you to write the book you’ve been pushing off.
It’s hard to top Rishikesh’s setting. It’s situated along the Ganges River between in some small mountains in the foothills of the Himalaya. Most foreigners base themselves at an ashram or hotel along the river. Another popular option is to stay up in High Bank. This is where I stayed for 10 days, at a family-run guesthouse among a cluster of similar ones. Make no mistake; Rishikesh is as noisy as any Indian city, but basing yourself up on the mountain-side in High Bank sets you apart from the bustle in a peaceful area.
Yoga is the main event in Rishikesh. There are countless yoga studios and yoga ashrams offering drop-in classes, courses, teacher-training courses. Some hotels even have their own yoga hall. It’s tough to get solid information about which are the best, so it’s best to just show up and ask around for recommendations. I had good luck with Surinder Singh at the Hotel Rajdeep and Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram in the Tapovan district of Rishikesh. My Spanish friend was looking forward to a teacher training course with Patanjali Yoga. Anther yoga instructor to look out for is Swami Yogananda, who is 105 years old and teaches at Om Shanti Om.
Additionally, you can find meditation ashrams or take music lessons in Rishikesh.
Overall, living expenses in Rishikesh are quite inexpensive. You can get rooms for as low as 200 rupees ($3.25 US) outside of high season. Rates at a yoga Ashram I visited were 600 rupees ($10) per night which included room, three meals, as well as two yoga lessons. Even the western cafes in town aren’t overpriced, where you can eat for only double the price of what you might find at a local café. At most local cafes you can fill up for 60-100 rupees ($1-1.60). Transportation around Rishikesh in shared Rickshaw is only about 10 rupees ($.17).
I don’t think there’s any place quite like Rishikesh. You can find yoga schools and foreigner enclaves other places in India, but they all don’t come together like they do in Rishikesh. If you want to get cool, up in the mountains, try the nearby hill stations of Mussoorie or Nainital.
Do you have plans to visit Rishikesh? Have you been here already?