Deeply devotional people, sacred rivers, mountains, and elaborate temples make India is one of the great spiritual destinations for eastern and western seekers alike. It is the birthplace of yoga as well as other forms of Eastern spirituality including Buddhism and Hinduism.
Join yoga teacher and author Darren Main and special guest teachers on this exciting pilgrimage to the foothills of the Himalayas in the holy city of Rishikesh, India to practice yoga on the banks of the Ganges, meditate with the Hindu mystics and experience the sights and sounds of this ancient culture.
The River Ganges
According to Hindus, the Ganges River is the holiest river in the world. Most Hindus make an effort to travel to this river at least once in their lives, and it is believed that bathing in and drinking from this river can wash away bad karma.
When you walk along her banks, it is easy to see why this river is so revered. You can’t help but be spiritually moved. It provides the perfect place to take your yoga and meditation practice to the next level.
The Holy City of Rishikesh
Often called “The Yoga Capitol of the World”, Rishikesh is one of the most holy cities in India. It was made popular to westerners by the Beatles, who went there to study Transcendental Meditation with their Guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It is also the city to which Paramahansa Yogananda fled as a teenage boy as described in his modern spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi.
Rishikesh is near the origin of the Ganges River and an important pilgrimage spot for yogis and Hindus alike. The entire town is filled with spiritual seekers from all over India and there are hundreds of schools offering yoga, meditation, chanting, philosophy courses, Ayurveda classes and spa treatments. The riverbanks are peppered with Sadhus—holy men and woman who renounce the world to practice daily yoga and meditation.
There are countless shops where you can buy devotional items, handmade clothes and Ayurvedic herbs. Every night the entire town pours to the river banks for a devotional ceremony called Aarti in which devotees take part in a spectacular fire ceremony and floating candles and flowers down the river.
There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds… I had been seeing the world in black & white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor.
—Keith Bellows, National Geographic Society
Photos by Jasper Trout