|Location:||25km from Rishikesh on Badrinath road.|
All year daily.
|Address:||Vashistha Gufa, Haridwar Rishikesh Badrinath Rd, Shivpuri Range, Uttarakhand 249192.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Vashistha Gufa is named after the Sage Vashistha who meditated in this cave frequently. According to Hindu mythology, Vashistha was a manas putra (human son) of Lord Brahma. He was one of the Saptarishi, the seven great sages. But after all his children had died he wanted to commit suicide by drowning in river Ganges. Goddess Ganaga refused his suicide and he was left on the shores of Ganges close to the cave. So he stayed at the cave with his wife, who decided to stay because of the pleasant environment. Sage Vashistha meditated in the cave for a very long time, and after some time a small ashram developed near the cave.
In 1930 Swami Purshottamanand decided to maintained the ashram and cave. Until today it is managed by the Swami Purshottamanand Society. The place is still popular for meditation. It is often rather crowded.
The cave looks from the outside like a small building erected at the foot of a cliff. But when the visitor enters the building there is no backside, the back is actually the small cave. The cave has been modified extensively so it is not clear if this was a small karst cave or a river cave formed by the Ganges river. However, it obviously was a natural cave.
Inside the cave is a Shiva lingam, a religous symbol which is only possible in India: it is a sculpture of the penis of God Shiva. Those are quite common, often they are stalagmites of a phallic shape, but here it seems to be some sort of artificial sculpture. Or probably it is a boulder transported to this place by river Ganges.
The river Ganges is considered holy by the Indians, and here in the southern foothills of the Himalaya it is a typical cold mountain river with a lot of fine sand in the water giving it the characteristic greenish colour. The nearby city Rishikesh is renowned as a center for studying yoga and meditation. Temples and ashrams line the eastern banks of the river. The whole area around Swarg Ashram is a traffic-free, alcohol-free and vegetarian enclave.