Finally, it’s time to share my impressions of my journey to India almost 2 years ago. I cannot exactly pinpoint why I postponed writing this text for so long – perhaps due to a lack of time, maybe a hint of laziness, or maybe I simply wasn’t in the right mood. Nevertheless, I truly hope that my memories have remained intact, and I can successfully convey the essence and atmosphere of India, along with my profound impressions of this diverse, vibrant, sweet, complex, and fascinating country.
The flight itself was quite challenging, spanning approximately 24 hours. Upon landing in Delhi, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Indira Gandhi International Airport was large, modern, and clean, which completely contradicted the parting words of my friends. The adventure began as we set out to find our taxi to Rishikesh. The scene at 4 in the morning, with a multitude of Indians holding signs, coupled with dehydration from the flight, fatigue, and a foggy mind, took its toll. After negotiating with a taxi driver, I braced myself for the 6-hour journey to my ultimate destination. However, within half an hour of the drive, I found myself yearning to return to the clean and comfortable airport. Summoning all my willpower and courage, I pressed on to reach Rishikesh.
The journey was filled with dirt, cold, fog, and left-hand traffic with seemingly no rules, coupled with chaotic road conditions, poverty, and rather mundane landscapes outside the car window. The experience was both astounding and overwhelming. The distinct smell of a nearby leather factory, smoke from fires, and the unfamiliar air left a lasting imprint on my memory. Thus, in a mix of tightness, fear, and curiosity, we arrived at the world capital of yoga – Rishikesh.
Rishikesh, known as the gateway to the Himalayas, is situated in the state of Uttarakhand, at the point where the Ganges River descends from the majestic Himalayas. It is renowned as the world capital of yoga, a city with a rich history where ancient holy sages once resided, and in the 20th century, esteemed yoga masters like Swami Sivananda and Swami Omkarananda also left their mark. Notably, in early 1968, The Beatles spent time in Rishikesh to study meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
My journey to Rishikesh was motivated by a quest for self-discovery, knowledge, and better health, a thirst for travel, and a strong desire for a complete change of environment. Upon arriving at the ashram, our home for the next five weeks, I was immediately struck by the unique and delightful aromas permeating the air – a captivating blend of spicy and sweet scents everywhere. We were accommodated in what appeared to be a cozy guest house, with surprisingly spacious rooms, albeit laid out in a rather non-functional manner.