India is a crazy, exciting, fascinating, beautiful, and intriguing world of it’s own.
Full of life, rich with culture, exquisite array of colours, the never ending smiling and hospitable nature of the local people, endless choice of areas to explore, and most importantly one of the best countries to travel in if you are looking for a vegetarian/vegan paradise. Each dish bursting with tantalising flavours that will tease your taste buds and every sense.
Rishikesh, located in the northern state of Uttarakhand is situated at the foothills of the Himalayas surrounded by the mountains and the the beautiful, rushing River Ganga down below inviting you to take a daily dip within to cool youirself, feeling the purity of the water cleansing you from head to toe.
Rishikesh is known as ‘The Gateway to the Gods’, ‘The Yoga Capital of the World’, and also a land to be explored by the adventure seekers. This city offers a unique experience to anyone and everyone, making it that much more invigorating to explore feeling the positive energy, buzz, and power in the air. This effect is a magnet pulling in spiritual seekers of all levels to experience life here in Rishikesh indulging in the of ashrams, temples, sat sangs, alternative healing therapies, ayurveda treatments, meditation, and the assortment of yoga styles that are available just about everywhere you look.
Furthermore , Rishikesh is well known for its no-meat rule being one of its main appeals amongst vegetarians and vegans, as well as meat eaters that just appreciate a good plant based diet. I personally never got bored of exploring the range of cafes and restaurants. Scouring their menus for all the amazing healthy vegan options and the amazing ingredients that I had not even heard of during my travels such as ashwagandha (an Ayurvedic herb), planning my next meal whilst eating my current meal.
So during my time in Rishikesh I decided to deviate away from the traditional Indian cuisines that I have been indulging in for the past 2 momths to explore the multitude of choices that these alternative cafes/restaurants had on offer. Below are the amazing places that I had discovered.
Pure Soul Cafe and Organic Kitchen
This restaurant is located in Tapovan next to Hotel Dewa Retreat. If you are looking for a more upmarket restaurant to wine and dine your loved one or just simply a chic space to relax to oriental music with on the floor seating spaces overlooking the Rishikesh mountain ranges is breathtaking. The benefit to being situated next to Hotel Dewa Retreat is having the option of moving between the restaurant and the hotels swimming pool which is only RP 500 for a days usage…the ultimate day of relaxation and nourishment.
At Pure Soul Cafe and Organic Kitchen I treated myself to the Bone Builder shake made of banana, almond, tahini, and cashew milk (I was very excited at a restaurant in India serving Cashew Milk). I also tried the Tofu and mixed vegetable wrap with mint sauce that was divine.
Pumpkernickel German Bakery
Pumpernickel German Bakery is located on the main street of Lakshman Jhula. During my many strolls within Lakshman Jhula I had passed this cafe many times not even considering entering in as this appeared to be just that, a bakery and only a bakery.
However, once I finally ventured inside with one of my friends I was delighted to discover that this 4 story establishment includes accomodation, has a prime view of the River Ganga, Lakshman Jhula and Tapovan, which is perfect from the top floor of the restaurant decked out with floor seating, and the ultimate area to read a book, hang out with friends, and also watch a movie shown each night at 7:30pm.
Pumpkernickel German Bakery has one of the most outstanding and comprehensive menus that I have come across in Rishikesh, and India in general. The menu truly caters for all (except meat eaters) having a vast range of vegetarian and vegan dishes that are creative and absolutely mouth watering just from reading the description.
I couldn’t resist the Raw Spaghetti Salad topped with Pesto. So fresh and vibrant.
The beauty of Moksh Cafe being positioned on this side is that it feels like a world of its own and very serene, not the constant beeping of horns and loud foot traffic going below.
Adding further to this peacefulness and shanti atmosphere they have initiated a ‘No Wifi’ policy as a means for people to engage with one another rather then having their noses buried in social media. A very fun environment that attracts locals and tourists alike with live music playing each evening. Ideal setting whilst sipping on a virgin mojito and enjoying a Roast Vegetable Platter with brown rice, sweet tahini and sesame sauce.
Ayurpak is located in Tapovan near Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram and contains the option of dining in their charming garden set away from the busy city life.
Ayurpak has designed majority of its menu specific to cultivating a healthy and balanced ayurvedic diet. I tested out the Moong Dahl Pancake with pumpkin and eggplant. Extremely light but highly nutritious.
The prices for each dish are very decent and one of the recommended restaurants to dine in if you are completing your Panchkarma treatment, which is a popular reason amongst many tourists to visit Rishikesh.
Beatles Cafe/60s Cafe
If you are looking for a way to work up an appetite then I would suggest going up these steps a few times a day.
The Beatles Cafe has a magnificent view of the River Ganga from the side which is quite different to that seen from majority of other restaurants.
The menu at Beatles Cafe/60s Cafe will rival that of Pumpkernickel German Bakery in terms of innovative vegan and gluten free meals and beverages making it difficult to decide what to choose each and everyime you visit.
On my first visit I just felt like a fresh fruit alad with the Green Revolution Smoothie – spinach, banana, apple, almond butter, soy milk and chocolate. On my second venture I decided on the vegan salad with mixed vegetavbles and cashew cream.
Soul Kitchen is quite the find located at the far end of Lakshman Jhula (left hand side of Lakshman Jhula side) heading towards Ram Jhula. This cafe can be found above Om Shanti Om Yoga School which makes it the perfect breakfast spot after a yoga session.
The space is quite intimate only consisting of 6 tables making it nice and cosy with a view of the River Ganga.
The menu is very enticing with a mixture of various juices and smoothies, shots such as wheatgrass, ginger, spinach and lemon. The option of traditional indian dishes (naturally), Thai cusine, Chinese dishes, and what excited me the most is an exceptional wide range of alternative healthier western style dishes such as quinioa salad with mixed vegetables, protein eggless crepes using chickpea flour accompanied with date chutney, amaranth porridge with coconut milk and dates, and raw nori wrap.
I found Soul Kitchen to be very reasonably priced and a superb place if you are looking for some quiet time away from the buzzing scene of Rishikesh. Plus you can always spoil yourself with a guilt-free treat such as an almond date ball.
Little Buddha Cafe
Little Buddha Cafe can be found in Lakshman Jhula and from my experience of testing out various cafes and restaurants this is one of the busiest from morning to evening.
Little Buddha Cafe once again has a fantastic view of the River Ganga similar to many of the other restaurants, however, the vibe and energy of this restaurant in particular is intoxicating attracting many tourists time and time again. This could be a mixture of factors from the upbeat music playing in the background, the open windows facing the River Ganga letting in a cool breeze, the large floor communal seating spaces inviting you to sit with strangers and come out as friends, or a combination of all three.
In addition, the prices of meals are very decently priced, especially in comparison to the size of the meals which could keep you satisfied all day long.
The Little Buddha Cafe is also another restaurant that has a well developed menu catering for all food cravings from beverages, range of various breakfast dishes, Mexican cuisine, Italian dishes, Tibetan food, Platters, Soups, Desserts, and of course amazing salads that keep you going all day long.
I chose the grilled tofu salad with tomato, cucumber, water cress, spinach, baby corn, lettuce, cabbage, topped with olive oil and lemon juice. Delicious and satisfying!
Cafe Nirvana is located at the top of World Peace Yoga Studio near Soul Kitchen.
I found that this was a perfect hideaway with a peaceful atmosphere. This cafe provides their patrons with the option of either dining at the tables or relaxing on the comfortable bedding, often with a coconut milk masala chai in the hand.
Cafe Nirvana has established 2 seperate menus. The first is a more traditional meal with a wide selection of beverages, breakfast for those seeking eggs, pancakes, a few simpler salads, Tibetan food, Indian food, burgers, Israeili dishes, Thai, and Chinese cuisine.
The second menu was more diverse and appealed to my taste moreso. The smoothie options were exceptional icluding ingredients such as turmeric, ashwaganda, amla, aloe vera, and spirulina. Large selection of vegan breakfast options, incredible vegan salads, health bowls of brown rice with mixed vegetables and other assortments, vegan versions of mexican dishes, and desserts such as coconut club nut energy ball and vegan ice cream.
I hope you all enjoy these amazing options in the Vegetarian/Vegan Paradise of Rishikesh, India. Please feel free to comment or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or other suggestions that I was not able to test this time around.
With lots of love,