Category: Rishikesh


Rishikesh

State: Uttarakhand
Population: 102,138 (2011 poll)

Rishikesh or the Gateway to the Himalayas is located very close to the holy city of Haridwar and is virtually a “carless” community nestled along the river Ganga. Rishikesh is the point where the Ganges flows from the Himalayas into northern India. Because of this Rishikesh is also considered a holy city and is completely vegetarian by law. It is the home of many yoga centres, and spiritual centres that preserve Vedantic studies (study of the Vedas).

Rishikesh, the beatles, meditation, India, Meditation caves, soundscapes, music, holy city, ashram,

The famous British band, The Beatles visited one of the larger ashrams in Rishikesh – the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram in 1968. They recorded around 50 songs while living at the ashram, some of which can be heard on their album White Album.  The ashram has been closed for many years, but here is a picture of the meditation caves that are spread out around the perimeter of the ashram grounds.  

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Rishikesh: Soundscape

rishikesh, beatles, soundscape, ganges, the ganga, shiva, aarti ceremony, tabla, We arrived in the late afternoon and didn’t quite understand why the driver dropped us off before we were in the town of Rishikesh.  We soon learnt that there were no cars allowed in the Eastern side of town where our hotel was.  The air was cool but the sky was a bright blue and full of sun.  We started to make our way across the suspension bridge over the Ganges where it is said that Rama did penance for killing Lanka (a demon king).  Once across we walked along the store lined path along the river and eventually found our way to the hotel.  That afternoon we heard the amplified call to aarti and followed down our windy street to the river.  I was delighted to see a giant white Shiva in the middle of the river lit up in pink hues, the sun slowly falling toward the horizon.  I sat down on the steps to the left of the tabla, harmonium and zither players.  An older man chanting into a mic caught me watching him and smiled as his voice resounded throughout the streets.  I took a deep breath as boys dressed in saffron robes and shaved heads, ran past me to gather around a fire pit.  I watched as they moved around and settled in before the fire keeper watched over the fire.  I looked out at the water, Shiva’s reflection rippling off the Ganges and felt a surge of belonging – not necessarily to this particular place, but on a grander scale, to the unity of humanity and the expression of different cultures.  More and more people gathered, tourists, local families, more young boys and then the sadhus arrived and sat in the center and the ceremony began.

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Map of the Soundscapes of Rishikesh

Here is a map that shows area where aarti was held. I hope that you have enjoyed listening and sharing in my experience in Rishikesh.:
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