De Tent of Grace

The large country of India lies in the shelter of the Himalayas in the north. On the border of this enormous mountain mass, where the holy river the Ganges flows into the lower areas, is the city of Rishikesh. Since ancient times it has been a holy place for the Hindus and offers shelter to various large ashrams; an ashram being a type of monastery. There are also many temples and priests, most of whom are consecrated to the god Shiva. In season thousands of wandering monks, the sadhus, camp outdoors. There are many self-appointed yoga masters who, for a reasonable price, will pass on their crafts to anyone interested. Through some schools you can obtain a diploma as a yoga master within a month.
The pilgrims’ area, further upstream, is visited every year by millions of Indian pilgrims. Ever since the Beatles studied there under a guru the place has enjoyed a huge stream of western “pilgrims” in search of enlightenment and deliverance from their undesired habits. Naturally the area is a desirable market for the impressive yoga masters. But the local middle class also has a flourishing business with goods and meals more suited to the westerners who come there. In the main street, near the suspension bridge Laksman Jhula, are many shops and eating places and there is often a chaotic busyness.

An impression

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