A Restorative Stay at Hotel Nirvana Palace
Rishikesh is a town that lives and breathes the Ganga River, nestled into the foothills of the Himalayas. It is a town steeped in a lifestyle of divine devotion. Soul seekers flock to Rishikesh, the “yoga capital of the world,” to wade into the glacial waters of the holy Ganga and to trek to sacred temples. But even in this idyllic mountain town, the commotion of Indian street life can be intense for any westerner. Narrow corridors bustle with people, cows, monkeys, and scooters; all trying to get by. (Tip: don’t make eye contact with monkeys, they will hiss and maybe come after you).
In the midst of all this vibrancy, tucked behind the Parmarth Niketan ashram, you’ll find Hotel Nirvana Palace—an oasis where you can relax, re-nourish, and rejuvenate to face another busy day of hiking, sightseeing, shopping, and experiencing Indian life.
Each day that you settle into your stay, the more you feel like part of the Nirvana family. Govind, the owner, and his staff genuinely want you to have a great time in their beloved Rishikesh. They do everything possible to make you feel comfortable. Govind and his wife, Bindia, check in with you daily to see if there is anything that you need. When you thank Govind for anything, he often humbly replies, “no, no thank you!” If you’re late to meet your group, no worries. Just tell Sachin at the front desk and he’ll get one of the boys to scooter you to catch up (the scooter rides are really really fun). There is a saying in India, “the guest is God.” Hotel Nirvana embodies this sentiment as the most gracious of hosts.
The rooms at Nirvana are modern, clean, spacious, and comfortable. The food is amazing—homemade and made-to-order; each dish is fresh and delicious. If you like Indian breads, you have plenty of options—probably ones you haven’t tried back home. I looked forward to every meal and appreciated the generous helpings. Be warned: the wait staff will keep offering you food until you say no. Even after you say no, they will ask again just in case you changed your mind, which oftentimes you do.
If you are in Rishikesh for a yoga retreat, Nirvana has two spacious yoga halls that easily fit large groups. It’s spa offers a variety of massages and traditional Ayurvedic body treatments. Massages are much cheaper than in the U.S. and the Ayurvedic treatments, like Shirodara (a steady stream of warm oil poured on your forehead in a special pattern), unwind your nervous system and send you into deep relaxation.
Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the rooftops of the ashram with the mountains cradling the moon behind you!
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Jeanette is a contributing editor to En Route Traveler who enjoys exploring the United States and faraway places like India, Belize, and Korea. She works in the Washington, DC metropolitan area as an attorney and Registered Yoga Teacher. Jeanette creates yoga practices that connect our modern city-dwelling selves back to the natural cycles of life; learn more on her website: soulfireyoga.com.