Thursday, July 28, 2011

Where to stay in Rishikesh? Try the Parmarth Niketan Ashram

Ashram to stay in 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. One of the main ashrams in Rishikesh and famous for its Ganga Arati

It was the ideal place 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 gates 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.

Beautiful Shiva Statue right over the River Ganges

Hanuman Statue, the monkey God

Buddha Statue at Parmarth Niketan Ashram Narashima Statue at Parmarth Niketan
Buddha Narashima, half lion half men God

dancing Shiva statue at Parmarth Niketan Ashram Hanuman statue at Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Dancing Shiva Hanuman. Rama and Sita in his heart

And another cool picture of the Shiva Statue ;-)

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

I think westerners are normally located in the "Ganga Block". The room that I got was pretty ok. 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 :-P

The ashram sometimes feels like a peaceful place but most of the time is 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 so 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 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 :-P

Ashram food

The food at the ashram was very good 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.

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 lots of sugar.

I would normally go for breakfast to the Tip Top, a western friendly restaurant 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.

Yoga courses and classes

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 were a two weeks beginners yoga course and a four weeks intensive yoga course.

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.

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 Ashram Contact information

Phone number: +91 135-2434302 +91 135-2434301
Address: Parmarth Niketan Ashram, P.O. Swargashram Uttarakhand, Rishikesh 249304, India

Other Places to Stay and Ashrams in Rishikesh

Suggested Reading

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  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.