Rishikesh Uncovered – Part I: ‘God’s Hour’

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I am blessed to have had the opportunity to travel to India thrice over the past three years. It was part of the daily ritual whilst at the ashram to wake up at 4.30/5.00 to prepare for practise, ‘God’s Hour’ or in Hinduism, Brahma muhurta (time of Brahma/God). The period (muhurta) one and a half hours before sunrise or more precisely 1 hour 36 minutes before sunrise. It is traditionally the last phase or muhurta of the night and is considered an auspicious time for all practices of yoga and most appropriate for meditation, worship or any other spiritual practice.

I’m reminded of Rishikesh when I wake up most mornings. Perhaps it’s my awareness of the energy of an awakening Mother Earth or my soul ties to India and its people. I watch the sun rising far in the horizon from my bedroom window and I’m called downstairs to my yoga mat where I close my eyes and visualize the endless flowing Ganga River and the mist lifting from the valley. With a sense of nostalgia, I’ll refer back to diary inserts and pictures which I now want to share with you.

May 2015: Rishikesh has a way of starting the detoxification process way ahead of any yoga schedule. No meat or alcohol and excessive heat during the day, I’m feeling the effects of a light fever and sore throat which seems to have been remedied by a thick and spicy tomato soup.

After a brief excursion into Rishikesh Central we took a side street down the Tapovan Hill and came across the Beatles Cafe where we took in the breath taking view of the Ganga from a perspective I’ve not yet had the opportunity to enjoy, and we did.

Hopeful stares from a wall at Ram Jhula Bridge

Our accommodation is typical of what you’d find in an ashram here, basic furnishings and little else. I managed to groan a kettle from the landlord after the kitchen downstairs, I was informed, had run out of gas and I will probably persist today about the state of cleanliness in this place. I need to confirm the room rate to ensure any unnecessary conflict when our time here is up. No electricity last night or water this morning. My head is itching and I’m thinking bed bugs for sure (so glad I shaved my hair). I really want to wash it but I have to wait.

The list of Rishikesh tests begins, and reminds me how tough the yoga course is going to be! Mainly run by men this spiritual centre does seem to be improving as streets and store entrances generally look much cleaner along the Ganga but a man’s clean is by no means close to a woman’s version of the same…’test’. Monkeys are up before any humans running along rooftop edges and railings watching and expectant for scraps. The donkeys get rounded up around five thirty – sunrise – and the bird songs offer varying exotic sounds.

Both mornings I’ve been met on the doorstep by a different dog and one has snuck under the bed to enjoy the warmth. The night brings with it a chill from the mountains which will be gone in no time. We’re almost at the highest point before Mother Ganga gets lost in the mountains and the outskirts of the town disperse into the winding road which takes you into the Himalayas.

A horn, gong or bells and the occasional prayer tune sung in unison with the natural surrounds reminds one to acknowledge and respect the years of tradition and deep faith this region invites one to learn. A detoxification or perhaps rather a purification of the mind and body is inevitable as things will work against you if you haven’t already acknowledged your purpose here. It can be a very destructive process for anyone not aware of the messages seemingly tailored by the universe for each individual. Meeting someone for the first time is like meeting an old friend here and goodbyes at the end begin the start of a first name introduction, as though thoughts, wisdom and sharing are far more important, as they should be, than personality.

It’s a peaceful Sunday morning with few annoyances. I am constantly reminded of the challenges I experienced when I was here two years ago. As commercial as this place may seem with all the Western yogis it really is backward in its approach to hospitality and lacking basic services. Perhaps if I had a clean pillow and bedding (easily available and a prerequisite at a guest house) I wouldn’t be feeling so cynical and moody. I bought cleaning bits yesterday and worked through the sick sweaty fever for hours in the hopes of feeling lighter today but my system is purging and blocked up at the same time.

From Little Buddha Café I can view the rafts drifting past in anticipation of the small rapids ahead, the donkeys are ushered along the river in a less than acceptable manner and all sorts of people are washing in Ma Ganga, a daily ritual I could watch for hours as the colourful saris blanket the rocks to dry.

View of the Ganga from Lakshman Jhula Bridge

View of river rafters and Tapovan Hills

The process of shedding of ego to remain in a constant calm state is what you come here to achieve. Union with the natural environment and integration with self. A huge task! It would be ridiculous to assume that anyone here really cares if I’m a travel writer, blogger or marketer and I feel suggestions and opinions would not be relevant because I would never live here permanently. Selective hearing towards woman border lines with disrespect, but that’s ok. Today I will just walk, take photos and document…but first some fried eggs.

Lakshman Jhula main street

If you struggle in the mornings then challenge yourself to wake up earlier (of course this may mean changing your bedtime routine). Be just with yourself during this quiet time. Enjoy the stillness, the peace and the calm and set positive intentions for your day.

If you’d like to make some changes and not sure how don’t hesitate to email me any time, subscribe to the blog and stay connected. LOVE LIFE, LOVE YOURSELF!