Ashrams in Rishikesh
Rishikesh has an ancient connection with ashrams. From being shelters for the hermits in ancient times to today being havens of yoga and spirituality, ashrams have evolved to suit the current times. However, the essence of ashrams, especially those in Rishikesh is still the same as it was eons ago – that of providing an environment for yogic living. Given the status of a spiritual city and more recently the International yoga capital, it is no surprise that Rishikesh is dotted with ashrams.
Interestingly, the visit by the famous band, The Beatles to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram brought Rishikesh on the world map. Just like the city, some ashrams too have international acclaim. People from all corners of the world come here to experience the ashram life in its full expression. Most ashrams are nestled away in the corners of the city, far from the hustle bustle and mundane chaos. Offering tranquility, yoga, and life off the grid – ashrams have become a haven for people who are looking for a meaningful experience.
Most ashrams, apart from providing lodging and satvic food, also offer yoga and meditation classes. While some ashrams charge a nominal fee for the stay, others seek donations only. Routine at most ashrams includes yoga, meditative walks, mantra chanting, communal prayers, yoga philosophy and meditation. Most ashrams also allow guests to take the lodging and follow their own routine. However, food is served at fixed timing and guests have to follow all the ashram rules that include abstaining from drinking and smoking.
Most popular ashrams include
Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Situated along the bank of Holy River Ganges, Parmarth Niketan Ashram is the largest ashram in Rishikesh. A sprawling campus, on the bank of river Ganga, with lush green gardens pecked with tropical flowers, the ashram offers a perfect blend of serenity and vivacity. Founded by Swami Shukdevenandji Maharaj in 1942, the ashram is the biggest and the most popular lodging destination in Rishikesh for spirituality seekers from around the world.
The Ashram has over thousand rooms open to visitors who want to experience a modern version of the ashram life. The rooms have all the necessities that make for a comfortable stay. Beside prayers, and yoga and meditation practice, several humanitarian projects also run at Parmarth Niketan. The Ganga arti at the ashram is a site like none other. The ashram also organizes the popular International Yoga Festival that brings the elite and the famous names of yoga from the world under one roof.
Phool Chatti Ashram
‘Phool Chatti’ means ‘land of flowers’. Founded more than a century ago, the Ashram is situated about 5 km upriver from the famous Laxman Jhula at the bank of Ganga. The ashram is famous for its week long yoga and meditation programs, during which spiritual seekers from around the world also learn the essence of Hindu tradition and ashram life.
Geeta Bhawan in Rishikesh is one of the oldest temple complexes in the area. With several discourse halls and over thousand rooms for pilgrims’ stay, it is also among the largest ashrams of Uttarakhand. Famous Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are written on the temple walls and twice an year, devotees gather to read the Ramayana together. Within the ashram campus is an ancient Banyan tree, under which many respected saints like Swami Ramtirth have gone into deep meditation.
In addition, devotional books, traditional clothing and Ayurvedic medicines are also available here at moderate price. Devotees get several facilities at Geeta Bhawan, such as free lodging and free boat service to Laxmi Narayan Temple across the river Ganga.
Swargashram is the oldest ashram of Rishikesh and is located in the heart of the town between Laxman and Rama Jhula. The place has several mentions in the ancient Holy Scriptures, and is considered as the spiritual base of Rishikesh. The Ashram is also famous for its huge collection of ancient scriptures. It offers free lodging, food and treatment facilities for saints and pilgrims.
Located about 3 Km away from the main town Rishikesh, towards Badrinath, Sivananda ashram is among the oldest ashrams of the Himalayan region. The area where the ashram is located is known as ‘Devabhoomi’, which means ‘land of Gods’, and has special place in Hindu scriptures. From thousands of years, countless saints have been visiting the place and as such have made the place pious. The whole atmosphere around the ashram is charged with spirituality, which naturally enhances one’s divine awareness. The ashram offers lodging only to serious spirituality followers and booking for accommodation needs to be made in advance.
Most ashrams also hold daily yoga and meditation classes, which are open to public. Many travellers prefer to experience the ashrams through these classes instead of planning a stay in the campus.
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