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Rishikesh

Ever since the Beatles visited the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late '60s, Rishikesh has been a magnet for spiritual seekers. Today it styles itself as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’, with masses of ashrams and all kinds of yoga and meditation classes. The action is mostly north of the main town, where the exquisite setting on the fast-flowing Ganges River, surrounded by forested hills, is conducive to meditation and mind expansion. In the evening, an almost supernatural breeze blows down the valley, setting temple bells ringing as sadhus ('holy' men), pilgrims and tourists prepare for the nightly ganga aarti (river worship ceremony). You can learn to play the sitar or tabla; try Hasya yoga (laughter therapy), practise meditation or take a punt on crystal healing.

Rishikesh is not all spirituality and contorted limbs, it's also a popular white-water rafting centre, backpacker hang-out and Himalayan-trekking gateway.

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