This time, in search of popular street foods, we are in Rishikesh which is deemed as one of India's top spiritual destinations. Located on the banks of the river Ganges at the foothills of the Himalayas, the city is a hub of spirituality, yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda. It is a serene place surrounded by forested hills and cut through by the mighty Ganges. This spiritual center with numerous ashrams and temples attained global prominence after the most iconic and influential British Rock Band Beatles visited the place for learning transcendental yoga. Since then hordes of international visitors from different countries have been visiting this holy city in the quest for spiritual enlightenment. As a result of this influx, the local food scenario underwent a shift with the surge of cafes and restaurants. International dishes rooted themselves in the lanes and by-lanes of Rishikesh. Currently, the street food scene here is a mix of traditional and international specialties.
We have embarked on a gastronomic tour of this city with our gracious host Varun Bhandari, a passionate young entrepreneur who runs a quaint cafe called Cafe Steps right near the Laxman Jhula. It was fun exploring the popular food items around this holy city.
We commenced the food tour with an energizing cup of nicely brewed black coffee from Varun’s cafe, Cafe Steps. He showed us how to make pour-over coffee, which is one of the manual ways of brewing coffee. The extract was sweet and delicate.
From there we went to German Bakery, a popular bakery near Laxman Jhula. There we tried some really good peanut cookies and almond triangle.
As we walked down the streets we came across a fruit cart run by a vivacious lady. Here we tried the Japanese fruit which is basically Persimmon. This sweet and sour tomato-shaped fruit was local produce.
Next was the turn of a delicious Punjabi thali at the iconic restaurant Chotiwala. There are two restaurants by the same name. The most fascinating thing about this place is the human mascot with elaborate and loud makeup who sits at the entrance to attract customers.
We then came across a Nankhatai vendor who was making a fresh batch of Nankhatai and a few other cookies. They were warm and toothsome. It was a delight to see the neat cart with an indigenous oven churning out these treats.
The next stop was a juice shop. After a refreshing and healthy glass of detox juice, we walked down the lane near Laxman Jhula in search of a local fruit ramphal. It's a sweet and sour fruit loved by the locals. The next destination was Beatles Ashram. It is the erstwhile spiritual retreat of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi where the Beatles had stayed during their visit to the city. Now in ruins, the place is calm and replete with the memories of the glorious times when these legends were around for learning transcendental yoga. It's a must-visit for any Beatles fan.
Hungry after all the walking in this massive property it was time for some energy stuff. So we went to Geeta Bhavan for some traditional sweets. So there was gond ke laddu, burfi, etc.
The next stop was Madras Cafe whose healthy and nutritious fusion menu was quite gratifying. We loved their Himalayan Pulao and spinach dosa.
Our final destination for the day was Shiva momo had a Falafel shop. This place is a hit with visitors both domestic and international alike. Our pick was Nutella banana momo, veg momo, and chowmein. The taste was quite impressive.
After wrapping up the food trail we visited the Parmarth Niketan Ashram for witnessing the Ganga aarti. The divine experience in that surreal setting amidst such is hard to describe in words.