A journey to the Himalayas…

Rise & Shine!

              Whenever I have early travel plans, I have a difficult time sleeping as I am paranoid that I will sleep through my alarm (yes, I am the girl that sets 3 alarms). I left my room at 5:30am and headed to the New Delhi Railway Station. I paid a porter to walk with me to the platform and make sure I was by the right coach (I was practically sleepwalking and it was the best $1.50 every spent). I didn’t have the energy to run to catch my train like I did the other day! The train (thankfully) was on time and I had a window seat to rest my head on. 6 hours later, I arrive to Haridwar, the closest station to Rishikesh, where I needed to be. When I arrived (as usual), I am bombarded with tuk tuk drivers and taxi drivers begging for your business. As I pushed my way through the crowd, I immediately found a few backpackers to share a tuk tuk with. The journey to Rishikesh took an hour and the scenery was so beautiful. I could finally take a deep breath and feel the crisp mountain air cool my lungs (slowly getting over bronchitis). I checked into my hotel and totally collapsed on the bed…

 

 Many have asked how I found this project…

            The connection happened while I was at Wanderlust Yoga Festival in Aspen (July 2014). I had just decided to take a leap of faith and make my “purpose project” happen and was still in the process of finding where I would volunteer in February 2015 (project #4). My intention at this festival was to make some connections that would hopefully lead me to the right place to give back. My intuition told me to stay after one of my classes and talk to the teacher and her husband. I asked them if they had any personal connections to any volunteer opportunites in India and she immediately said, “Ramana’s Garden in Rishikesh (Gurmukh leads a teacher training there every year too)! She has fundraised for this orphange and gave me some information and told me to contact the director, Prabavati and to tell her that she referred me. After that encounter, I couldn’t stop smiling, realizing that what I was seeking was found. It was beautiful having someone connect me personally to a project (grassroot level) considering there are many orphanages not being run properly etc.IMG_3916

 

A land like no other…

             I wish someone had given me the 411 on this special place and the energy it holds which would have made it a much easier transition, to understand what I would most likely experience…

            Honestly, I knew nothing about Rishikesh. I have heard of people coming to this town for yoga retreats but other than that, I was excited to be surrounded in nature and breath in some fresh air after Kolkata. Nestled at the base of the Himalayas is the holy city of Rishikesh. It is a pilgrimage for many and has deep spiritual and cultural significance for Hindus. In Hinduism, the river Ganges is considered sacred, a goddess known as Ganga. It is believed that bathing in this pure and holy water washes ones sins away. It is also a place many travel to send the ashes of loved ones down as it liberates one from the cycle of life and death. A local told me that many Hindus save up for years and years to make the pilgrimage to Rishikesh, wearing their finest clothes just to get a glimpse and to bathe in this holy water. The color of the water is absolutely magical and when I first saw it, I gasped! This town is also made famous by The Beatles, who stayed in an ashram here in the late 60’s and is now known as the “yoga capital!”

 

The energy:

          Rishikesh attracts individuals from all over the world, soul searching, to experience Ayurvedic healing, yoga retreats, teacher trainings or just to relax. All the restaurants are vegetarian and alcohol is not allowed. It is a holy land and holds a sacred energy from all the wise and ancient sages who used the banks of the holy Ganga to meditate and pray on before making their way into the Himalayas. It has a strong energy that you can feel, one combined with a collective energy people bring with them to try to heal, let go, seek etc. 

          Some days, I felt on top of the world, other days I just wanted to sit in my room and cry. I would lose my balance easily and felt foggy, spacey and thankfully, after talking to fellow volunteers telling them I felt like I was losing my mind, they smiled and said, “Welcome to Rishikesh, a land unlike no other, be kind to yourself, you are in a magical vortex.”

I can already feel the love...

I can already feel the love…

 

Much love,