May 21, 2018
Ganga Aarti (devotional fire ritual) at Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Location: Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Tehri Garhwal (district), Rishikesh (city), Uttarakhand (state), India
An aarti is a devotional fire ceremony - one of the many celebrated traditions in India. The Ganga aarti in particular is a fire ceremony in giving thanks to the bounties of the Ganga River. Oil lamps are passed around by the devotees along the banks of the Ganga. Some oil lamps resting on paper foil are let to drift along the Ganga. This is a daily sunset ceremony accompanied by live devotional music, singing and arms swaying. It has a lively festive feel to it.
Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Ganga aarti at Parmarth Niketan Ashram is pretty much a rite of passage when one visits Rishikesh. Nearly all my friends suggested that I "must do" the aarti at Parmarth Niketan Ashram. There are about 5 sites in Rishikesh where the daily aarti is done, but the one in Parmath is the most celebrated.
With Ai, a Japanese traveler who was a regular to my yoga class, we braved the thick crowd but were still early enough to get a decent space to sit on. We were there watching the crowd filling-up and the energy building momentum as devotees clapped with the music as the music intensified.
Everything was spoken in Hindi but it didn't matter. At that point, there were no boundaries of faith, color or persuasion. We were all there in celebration of the event. It's amazing to think that despite this event happening daily, the crowd still fills in making it feel like this a special once-in-a-blue moon event. Indeed, this is a must-experience for everyone who visits Rishikesh.
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Next stop: Satsang (spiritual discourse) by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati
Rishikesh (city), India
- RAAHI The Travellers Nest - backpacker-friendly, dorm rooms, central location, tours & rafting, motorbike rental, great place to meet people
Paidal Marg, Laxman Jhula, 249192 Rishikesh
Travel Tips for Rishikesh
- climate-wise, best time to visit Rishikesh is from October to February when temperature is cool. This is also the high season for foreign travelers.
- May to June (my time of visit, before the monsoon rains) is HOT and DRY. Temperatures can reach beyond 40° and your skin/lips dry up. Great to go rafting or a dip in the Ganga River for respite. There are mostly Indian devotees and Indian tourists flocking to Rishikesh. Westerns tourists are few, but Rishikesh gets crowded specially while crossing the 2 bridges, Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula. Lodging prices can be negotiated down to INR 300/night for a bunk bed in a dorm room as this is low season.
- During the cooler season when any of the hugely popular gurus or babas visit to give a satsang, eg. Prem Baba, Mooji Baba, all rooms are fully booked from Rishikesh to Hardiwar!
- short power outages frequently happen during the day
How to get to Rishikesh from New Delhi by bus
- Bus - take the Metro Yellow Line and get off at Kashmiri Gate. Exit the station from Gate 7 and enter the ISBT building - this is the bus terminal. Go down one flight and go to Platform 14. This is where you buy the bus ticket and board the bus. A/C bus, INR 454, 6 hours. You can take the 10:30pm bus and arrive 5am in Rishikesh.
scam alert! - over the ticket counter, the guy may verbally charge you INR 765 - this is usually the online price of the bus ticket. But I looked closely at the printed ticket, and found the price at INR 454. I demanded more change! The guy knew he's been discovered and gave me back the rest of the change.
You will arrive in Rishikesh at Adarsh Gram. To get to your hotel, travelers usually share a tuk-tuk (called Vikrams) for INR 10-20/passenger if shared. Since I arrived 5am, there was no one to share so I ended up paying a negotiated INR 150.
Travel Tips for India
- e-VISA - visa on arrival is no longer done. Tourists should apply online for an e-VISA. Tourist e-VISA for 60 days = US$51.25 (including surcharges, non-refundable). NOTE: e-VISA is only honored in 25 designated airports and 5 designated seaports (Cochin, Goa, Mangalore,Mumbai,Chennai). You CANNOT do a land crossing using an e-VISA.
- US$1 = Indian Rupee (INR) 67.18
- nearly every food served is spicy...there is no escaping it
- other travel destinations in India
- always good to have an Indian SIM. It's handy to get wifi in some cafes
General Travel Tips
- arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
- put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
India Blogs by TheLoneRider
- 16 Days in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala: Goodbye India June 23-July 8, 2018
- Peoplescape of Dharamshala, India June 14 - July 8, 2018
- Visiting the Tibet Museum June 27, 2018
- In Search of a Tibetan Yantra Yoga Teacher June 25, 2018
- Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India June 24 - July 8, 2018
- Life in Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 16-23, 2018
- Trekking to Naddi from Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 19, 2018
- Matters of the Heart Jun 17, 2018
- A First Timer in Dharamshala Jun 14, 2018
- 29 Hours in New Delhi Airport July 9-10, 2018
- Meditation with Shirly Pnina at Lodi Garden, New Delhi May 15, 2018
- A First-Timer in New Delhi, India May 12-17, 2018
- A 26-Day Mini-Life in Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
- Peoplescape of Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
- Rafting the Ganga River with Greg Goldstein June 1, 2018
- White Water Rafting on Ganga River, Rishikesh May 25, 2018
- Satsang (spiritual discourse) by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati May 21, 2018
- Ganga Aarti (devotional fire ritual) at Parmarth Niketan Ashram May 21, 2018
- Bouncing Back into Yoga in Rishikesh May 21, 2018
- Exploring Rishikesh, India May 18, 2018
- India e-VISA snag May 9, 2018
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