Perhaps nowhere embodies Indian spirituality more than Rishikesh, a small city of ashrams and temples, yogis and astrologers set on the Ganges in the foothills of India’s Garhwal Himalayas. Hindu pilgrims have long come to meditate and make offerings here, but global consciousness awakened to Rishikesh after the Beatles visited in 1968 to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, famously writing some 40 songs during their stay. Now, the town draws solace-seekers from far and wide, especially in March when its annual International Yoga Festival (March 1–7) sees some of the world’s most renowned yoga teachers holding 60-plus hours of free classes. What’s more, the jungle-shrouded ashram where the Beatles resided, closed since 1997, has recently been reopened to the public, with a museum and nature paths soon to come. Ob-la-da! —Gabrielle Lipton
Where to Stay
A short drive from town, Ananda in the Himalayas (doubles from US$710) offers a full program of yoga and spa therapies in a former maharaja’s palace.
In between practicing your downward-dog pose, explore the great outdoors: activities in the area include rock climbing, rafting, and trekking. Red Chilli Adventure is among the town’s top outfitters.
In keeping with its status as a Hindu spiritual center, meat and alcohol are banned in Rishikesh.
This article originally appeared in the February/March print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Om for the Holidays”).