Thursday, July 28, 2011

Where to Stay in Rishikesh? Try the Parmarth Niketan Ashram

Parmarth Niketan Ashram Rishikesh

After over 20 days of solitude in Kukuchina, I felt I wanted to come back to Rishikesh, to "civilization" again. I didn't want to spend any time looking for a good place where to stay, but as usual, I wanted to find something comfortable and clean.

I found my answer in "Whereiscallie's" blog, the Parmarth Niketan Ashram.  This is one of the main ashrams in Rishikesh, famous for its Ganga Arati

It was the ideal ashram to stay cause it is very easy to reach, easy to move around the Ram Jhula area, not much hassle to register and you are free to do whatever you want.

It is a sort of ashram guesthouse, just what I was looking for. You can leave and come back to the ashram at any time until 10pm when the main gate closes.

For just 500 rupees a day you get a decent room, three meals a day and a morning yoga class. I thought I would stay just a few days until I find something more comfortable but it was actually enough for me so I didn't move at all.

About the Parmarth Niketan Ashram

When I first arrived I felt like if I was in an amusement park because of the crowds and all the beautiful statues of Indian Gods in every corner of the ashram.

My two favorite ones are the Shiva statue which is right over the Ganges river and the massive Hanuman statue.

Parmarth Niketan Shiva Statue
Beautiful Shiva Statue right over the River Ganges

Parmarth Niketan Giant Hanuman Statue

Hanuman statue
Hanuman with Rama and Sita in his heart

Buddha statue

Dancing Shiva Statue
Dancing Shiva

The ashram is also very green and beautiful. There is grass and all sort of trees everywhere but the facilities need some maintenance. It could look so much better.

I think westerners are normally located in the "Ganga Block."

The room that I got was decent. Everything looked clean, the bedsheets, the floor, the bathroom except for a sofa that had layers of dust and a really bad smell so I tried to stay as far away from it as possible. Lol

The ashram sometimes feels like a peaceful place but most of the time it's very hectic, full of people coming and going and with lots of activities going on.

During my stay, there was a sort of political party meeting and also the Guru Purnima celebration. 

Normally it lasts only one day but in this ashram, it lasted for about a week, and they were chanting the Ramayana, an Indian epic, 24 hours a day... with loudspeakers!

Luckily my room was not too close to the chanting hall.

One thing that really bothered me was the narrow street that leads to the ashram through a market, after crossing the Ram Jhula bridge. 

I think I have never seen so many flies and cow shit in my life.

But I love those holy cows.  It makes me sad that they look so sick and skinny. I hope they are not using their milk to prepare curd at the restaurants.

Narrow street near ashram

Cow laying down near ashram

Parmarth Niketan ashram food

The food at the ashram was all right but after a couple of weeks, it gets too monotonous. It doesn't matter what they cook, everything tastes the same, though on some rare occasions we would be surprised with a new taste.

For lunch and dinner, they always prepare dal (lentils), rice, chapattis, and cooked vegetables.

Parmarth Niketan ashram food

For breakfast most of the time you would get rice with potatoes and tiny pieces of vegetables and if you were lucky a banana. Some days we would get porridge with looots of sugar.

I would normally go for breakfast to the Tip Top, a western friendly restaurant nearby where you can get porridge, muesli, creps, and other good stuff.

Anyway, I liked to go there, sit for a while and read a nice book after breakfast. This was also the meeting place for all the westerners staying at the ashram.

Ashram daily activities and schedule

According to the Parmarth Niketan website:

“The daily activities at Parmarth Niketan include morning universal prayers, daily yoga and meditation classes, daily satsang and lecture programs, kirtan, the world-renowned Ganga Aarti at sunset, as well as Nature Cure and Ayurvedic treatment.

There are frequently special cultural and spiritual programs given by visiting revered saints, acclaimed musicians, spiritual and social leaders and others.

Additionally, there are frequent camps in which pilgrims come from across the world to partake in intensive courses on yoga, meditation, pranayama, stress management, acupressure, Reiki and other ancient Indian sciences.”

Daily Schedule

5:00 am – 6:00 am Universal prayers [Sanskrit] and lecture [Hindi] – Satsang Hall
6:30 am – 7:30 am General Yogasana & Meditation [English] – Yoga Hall
9:00 am – 10:30 am Gita Paath & Pravachan [Hindi] – Satsang Hall
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Ramayan Paath & Pravachan [Hindi] – Satsang Hall
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm (Mon-Sat) General Yogasana [English] – Yoga Hall
6:00 pm    Ganga Havan & Aarti – Main Ghat (on river bank around sunset)
8:30 pm – 9:00 pm Kirtan (call & response) & Meditation with the Rishikumars – Satsang Hall

Immediately after the Ganga Aarti, there is Darshan & Satsang in the Satsang room in Pujya Swamiji’s reception area.

The darshan/satsang runs usually between 30-45 minutes and is a time for people to come, meditate in Pujya Swamiji’s presence, listen to live kirtan, and ask any questions they have about their spiritual path.

Yoga courses at Parmarth Niketan

There was an open yoga class at 7 am, only for the people staying at the ashram at no extra cost. 

During my stay, there was also a two weeks beginners yoga course and a four weeks intensive yoga course.

You can read all about my experience following these courses in The Parmarth Niketan Intensive Yoga Course in Rishikesh.

How to reach the Parmarth Niketan Ashram

To reach the ashram all you need to do is take an auto-rickshaw from wherever you are in Rishikesh and ask to be dropped at the Ram Jhula bridge.

They will drop you under a big arc, next to the rickshaws/taxi stand. From there you just need to walk towards the bridge which is about 5 - 10 minutes walk and then cross over the Ganges to the other side.

The ashram has a big clock tower so you can easily recognize it from the other side of the river.

Parmarth Niketan view

If possible try to book in advance. I called them before arriving at the ashram and they told me that I didn't need to book in advance but when I arrived they asked me "do you have a booking", I said "no" and they replied, "then you can't stay." I love India!

Parmarth Niketan contact information

Parmarth Niketan Ashram,
P.O. Swargashram Uttarakhand,
Rishikesh 249304,

Phone number: +91 135-2434302,  +91 135-2434301
Google Maps link

Other ashrams to stay in Rishikesh

Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRSG). This ashram is about 20 min rickshaw drive from Ram Jhula, away from all the crowds in Rishikesh.  Its focus is on dhyana yoga (meditation), following the Himalayan Yoga Tradition.

Sadhana Mandir.  This was the ashram founded by Swami Rama himself.  It's about 30 min walk from SRSG. It sits right next to the river Ganges.  It's an ideal spot to spent your days in silence focusing on your sadhana.

Shri Santosh Puri Ashram. This is a lovely ashram in Haridwar.  The food is amazing and the vibes created by the daily fire rituals are fantastic.  The yoga classes are also really good.

If you would like to discover many more ashrams all over India you can visit my Guide to Ashrams in India.  These are all the ashrams that I have personally visited since my first trip to India back in 2005.

Yoga Teacher Training Courses in Rishikesh

If you are searching for a Yoga TTC in Rishikesh, or anywhere else in India then you can visit my curated list of some of the best yoga TTC in India.

This list is based on my own personal experience and also on friends' recommendations and student reviews.  It includes yoga TTC of 200 hours, 300 hours and more.

Travel tips to visit Rishikesh and India

Before you pack your bags don't forget to visit my detailed packing list for India.  This list includes every single item that you could possibly need to travel and to practice yoga in India.

Also, don't forget to open a TransferWise account.  This is the best way to pay for your accommodation and yoga courses.  It is very cheap and convenient.

In Rishikesh, you can withdraw maximum 10,000 rupees at a time.  So if you need to pay for your accommodation and yoga courses you will spend a lot on ATM fees and bank commissions.  Better to use TransferWise.

If you are looking for more information about yoga courses or yoga teachers in Rishikesh you should visit this blog:

Your recommendations

Did you find this information about the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh useful? Let me know what you think.

Please, feel free to share any other tips or anything about your experience in Rishikesh in the comments section below.

You can also subscribe to my newsletter.  In this way you won't miss any future updates and you'll be able to download my free meditation ebook.  No worries, no spam guaranteed.  Thanks for your support.


  1. I found your blog while looking for information about the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, after seeing a talk with Sadhvi Bhagwati on TV during ongoing 'Kumbha Mela'. I visited their website, it was good but the way you have described your experience here is really invaluable and gave a concrete picture. Thank you for such a wonderful blog. On lighter note...(referring to your experience about the booking) you can love India if such things happen once in while, but if it happens (almost) everywhere and every time you may think otherwise! Probably with such daily experiences we Indians tend to be more inclined to leave the world for peace :)

  2. Thank you Saurabh for reading my blog and for your positive feedback. Oh, and about the booking experience... well I've been in India long enough to know that such things happens almost everywhere and every time, I guess that's part of the beauty of India. Sometimes it can really get on your nerves but somehow you still love it ;-) Looking forward to be back soon :-)

  3. Mr Marco you had wonderful experience in rishikesh .

  4. hi i was looking for information about parmarth niketen i found it quite useful u discriptively told about ur experience, food, yoga,ashram's beauty ,facility. thanxs alot.... i hope u will find India more beautiful,next time u come it's culture, trdition is very rich explore more about India,it is very beautiful. thanx again for adopting what is MY India in its natural form, other u may enjoy luxury hotels everywhere. come India soon.......

    1. Oh I've been to India so many times and I can tell you without doubt that I love it, must be from a past life connection :-) I'm sure I'll keep coming back again and again

  5. Great post Marco Pino. You have touched almost all the aspects one need to keep in mind while visiting Haridwar and Rishikesh. However, i wish to share some more info about Rishikesh.

  6. Nice information will be traveling tomorrow to Rishikesh for Yoga course at Parmarth Niketan.