Rishikesh! Yoga capital of the world

following on from https://kevollier.com/2014/07/02/beggars/

yoga rishikesh

The bus from hell pulled in at Dehra Dun at 5 in the morning and still being 10 miles from Rishikesh allowed taxi drivers to take advantage, or try to at least. They should understand that after the last 14 hours my inner yogi had gone awry and I was left with a strong case of the fuck it attitude. The greedy smiles of the drivers saying that ‘there is no other choice than to take our taxi as the first bus is 5 hours away’  found my yogi free body waving a finger at my face and saying ‘do I look bothered ?’ which was lost on them as I can’t imagine they knew who Vicky Pollard was. In fact, nobody we asked, and we asked a few after the shock of the first blank face, had ever even heard of Madonna, so Vicky had no chance.
Standing our ground the fare halved when all the other passengers had gone on their way and soon we arrived at our hotel in Rishikesh, waking the receptionist asleep on the floor behind the counter who, bless him, rounded up some sleepy staff and got our rooms ready.

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A few hours later we were up and out and immediately the senses were assaulted by more yoga posters than you could ever imagine. I confidently think that you could stay in Rishikesh a whole year going to a different yoga class each day without repeating one. The yoga posters though had stiff competition from the meditation posters. And it is a honey pot for westerners – most on month long courses and nearly all on a long term world hippy travel adventure – and of all ages – in fact the over 50’s were as abundant as the under 30’s.

We wandered down the narrow alleys to the first cafe – a chilled cushion seated affair called the Happy Buddha Cafe which afforded the first views of the Ganges. It maybe only a river in the same way the Himalayas are only a mountain range but breath is stripped from your body just the same.

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I struck up a conversation with an English threesome who were at the back end of a Sivananda yoga course, one I’ve never tried but their recommendation to do so will be acted upon. They told us of a circular walk that takes in all of Rishikesh so that’s what we decided to do. Heading off we soon came to the defining Lakshman Jhula pedestrian suspension bridge but spotting, what truly has to be, one of the best sited people watching cafes in the world, the Devraj Coffee Corner and Bookshop hovering above it, we decided to have another rest – this time a Honey Lemon Ginger tea was the order of the moment to watch the constant drama unfold below.

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To say this is a pedestrian bridge is pushing it to say the least. The only thing not allowed on it, and only because it isn’t wide enough, are cars and trucks.  Motorbikes and scooters cross it and it seems as long as you ‘peep’ it’s ok to kill a pedestrian. I assume a death resulting from no peeping results in prosecution.  But ‘peep’ doesn’t adequately describe the murder inducing sound that is emitted. Along with the motorbikes and scooters, also jostling to cross are cows, buffalos, dogs, the odd donkey and every sort of human alive, and constantly, the very naughty monkeys, who, looking all cute at first glance, are jumping down on to the bridge and then literally stalking and then grabbing and ripping any bags not held against a chest. There is no movie worth watching that is as enthralling and dramatic as the live action of Lakshman Jhula bridge.

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Once one runs the gauntlet of this crossing you come into the area that is itself Lakshman Jhula. To picture this imagine the Green Fields’ cafes of Glastonbury Festival crossed with the High Street of Glastonbury town with a splattering of ashrams to a backdrop of Himalayan foothills and a turbulent Ganges running through it all, accompanied by scents of Patchouli, Sandalwood and Hashish with yoga and meditation being the main stay of business.
One word.
Go!

 

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more posts on Rishikesh to follow…..

all posts from this trip – ‘North India in 23 Days’ can be found at
https://kevollier.com/category/north-india-in-23-days/

and for other Yoga and Buddhist related posts as well as general randomness see
kevollier.com/

 

Glastonbury 2013 – the shop fronts

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Most years, at the end of June, 200,000 people are steered to pass by or/and encouraged not to go into the town of Glastonbury (logistics I assume) to instead  revel at the makeshift Glastonbury Festival, which, in reality, is 7 miles away from the town. In fact the festival is only 3 miles from the larger town of Shepton Mallet,  but a very clever someone, sometime, somewhere decided that ‘Shepton Mallet Festival’ simply wouldn’t have the same mystical ring to it and therefore wouldn’t be anywhere near as marketable – so Glastonbury Festival it became.
If you visit the town during what is said to be the world’s largest festival of performing arts, you would find it at its quietest.
Glastonbury the town is celebrated for many things – the legends surrounding the mystical Tor, the belief that the cup of the last supper also known as ‘the holy grail’  by Arthurians is buried at chalice Well and that King Arthur and his bride Guinevere are buried in the ruined Abbey – indeed Glastonbury is the Ancient Isle of Avalon -but in the end a town is judged primarily and possibly quite sadly by its shops,  and millions of people over the decades truly miss the Diagon alleyesque of the town itself – something the Tourist Board has seemingly and quite ignorantly never fathomed – so without further ado I attach a portfolio of some, but by no means all, of the shop fronts and maybe the red pill that awaits you.
Most speak for themselves of what’s inside…
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Natural Earthling is mostly a yoga shop

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Nicholas Cage, who has a home in Glastonbury, is a regular visitor to Little Imps but is yet to buy the phenomenal wooden castle in the window.

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the former Woolworth building put to a very non-paraben use!

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and if you have a shop front in mind – buildings for sale can be had at

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not a shop front per se, but great art on a Glastonbury mall/arcade wall.

So don’t pass by, spend a weekend in Glastonbury proper. There are many more shops than those posted here but very few ‘normal’ ones, I’m happy to say 🙂

see also ‘Drugs on the West Highland Way’
https://kevollier.com/2012/09/21/west-highland-way/

and the first post of 25 about the author’s experience in North India on the ‘spiritual trip’
https://kevollier.com/2014/04/12/north-india-in-23-days-day-1-glastonbury-to-delhi/

plus much more at
https://kevollier.com/