Located in the foothills of the Himalayas along the convergence of Ganga and Chandrabhaga River, Rishikesh is a small town in the Dehradun district, located close to Haridwar in Uttarakhand. Rishikesh (also called as Hrishikesh) is known for its adventure activities, ancient temples, popular cafes and as the “Yoga Capital of the World”. Gateway to Garhwal Himalayas, Rishikesh is also a pilgrimage town and one of the holiest places for Hindus.
Rishikesh became known worldwide in the 1960s after The Beatles visited the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi here. Today, the place is popular as The Beatles Ashram which beckons tourists globally. The tranquil town has long been a spiritual centre but is equally popular for the whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking and camping along the fast-flowing Holy Ganges. It also serves as the gateway to many Himalayan treks.
As it lies on the holy banks of river Ganga, Rishikesh has been a hub of Sadhus (saints) with numerous ashrams teaching spirituality, yoga, meditation and Ayurveda springing up. Since it is a religious town, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly prohibited here. Rishikesh sees the most beautiful evening aarti on the banks of the river Ganga, which is not too crowded unlike its contemporaries in Varanasi, and Haridwar. The International Yoga Festival is organised here in the first week of March which sees yoga enthusiasts from all over the globe.
Rishikesh is divided into two main areas – the downtown area known as Rishikesh town which is where the popular Triveni Ghat is situated. 2 km upstream from the popular Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula is the other side of Rishikesh where most of the popular ashrams, cafes, accommodation and tourists can be found. Haridwar and Rishikesh are the first Indian cities to be given the title of “twin national heritage cities”.
Must Visit Places and Activities to do in Rishikesh
Ganga Aarti is the most auspicious and holiest ritual performed on the ghats of Rishikesh in the evening at the time of dusk. Although the aarti is performed at several ghats, the most popular ones are performed at Parmath Niketan Ghat and Triveni Ghat. The riverbank is lit up with dainty floating diyas and the smoke of the hawans floating the skies. The chiming of the temple bells, the chanting of mantras and the overall ambience of the place is an experience of a lifetime.
The Lakshman Jhula is a famous hanging bridge across the river Ganga that connects two villages, Tapovan in the Tehri Garhwal district and Jonk in the Pauri Garhwal district. Sadly, it has been closed permanently owing to the risk to the safety and security. A new glass bridge is set to come up adjacent to Lakshman Jhula. However, it is still used by pedestrians
but bikes are strictly not allowed.
An iconic landmark, Ram Jhula is a suspension bridge that runs across the sacred River Ganga connecting Shivananda Nagar to Swargashram. The bridge spans 750 feet and is a splendid work of engineering that offers a splendid bird’s eye view of the mighty Ganges and the serene nature at the foothills of the Himalayas.
The Beatles Ashram, also known as Chaurasi Kuti, is located on a cliff in the Swarashram area of Rishikesh, 1 km from Ram Jhula. This is the ashram where The Beatles lived in 1968 and wrote dozens of songs and meditated. The ashram complex houses a former temple, library, kitchen, home of Maharishi Yogi and meditation huts. Most of the buildings are in decay but there are colourful graffiti on the walls. There is also a small gallery and a cafe.
Rafting in Rishikesh particularly is hands down the best; one could endeavor in India. From the gifted natural circumstances to the top professional assistance, the place has just the best to offer. There are some certified operators, whose safety arrangements are well in place, and there are customised packages for camping and rafting at Rishikesh. The peak season sees Rishikesh pretty crowded, so you can keep a check over that detail when you are planning.
Triveni Ghat is a confluence of three holy rivers of India – Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. One of the biggest and most famous ghats in Rishikesh, it is also one of the most revered sacred bathing spots. Triveni Ghat is where the famous Ganga Aarti takes place every evening.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is one of the most revered Hindu sites dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located in the Pauri Garhwal region, the temple is around 7km from Swarg Ashram. It is one of the most popular Shiva temples and is visited by devotees from all over the world.
At 380 m high, Kaudiyala is a popular rock climbing destination surrounded by dense forests. It also offers white river rafting tracks, and the sports is organized by the camping facilities around the place.
One of the top exciting adventure sports in Rishikesh is Bungee Jumping. It involves jumping off from a very tall structure (usually a building), flying freely in the air in the air before being restrained and pulled up. This activity can also be carried out from hot air balloons or helicopters.
Neer Garh Waterfall is a beautiful narrow stream of cool water cascading down a rocky terrain in the midst of a dense green forest. It requires trekking a distance of about a kilometre through the forest and down a cliff to reach the waterfall. The trail is exciting and a perfect activity to do before entering the waters for a cool soothing dip in one of its pools.
Swarg Ashram is a spiritual abode built in the memory of Swami Vishudhanand who was fondly known as Kali Kamli Wala as he was always seen wearing a black coloured blanket. The ashram is a famous yoga and meditation centre located on the banks of holy Ganga.
Founded by Adiguru Shankaracharya in 12th century, the Bharat Mandir is one of the most sacred and famous temples in Rishikesh. The presiding deity is Lord Vishnu carved out of a single piece of Saligram. The inner canopy of the temple contains Shree Yanthra.
Rishi Kund is a natural hot spring pond which is considered as a sacred water body. Locals also believe that Lord Rama had bathed in the kund during his exile and that the rivers, Ganges and Yamuna meet each other at this point.
The Geeta Bhawan is a vast and spacious ashram located on the banks of Ganga in Swargashram. It is renowned as an important institution that preserves Hindu literature since it houses the Gita, which symbolizes the Hindu Vedas and epics. The Geeta Bhawan is visited by a large number of people each year.
Muni ki Reti is a religiously important pilgrim centre near Rishikesh considered as the gateway for the pilgrimage of Char Dham. It, therefore, has a number of ashrams providing basic facilities for the pilgrims to help them on their spiritual journey.
Omkarananda Ashram is home to Patanjala Yoga Kendra yoga centre. Located in the Muni-ki-Reti area of Rishikesh, it holds a magnificent view next to the holy waters of Ganga. It follows and teaches the Iyengar Yoga which is guided by world-renowned Shri Guruji, B.K.S. Iyengar.
Trimbakeshwar Temple or Tera Manzil Temple is the thirteen storey temple situated on the banks of Ganges. Located right opposite the Lakshman Jhula, it enshrine several deities under one roof. Popular for its striking architecture, the temple also offers panoramic landscape view from the top of its 13th floor.
The Shivanand Ashram serves as the abode of Saint Swami Shivanand and is a popular religious yoga and meditation centre. Situated near the Ganges, the ashram is a beautiful and very calm place to be. The satsangs, feast and yoga sessions are well arranged, and the ashram is beautifully maintained.
Perched atop the Kunjapuri hill, Kunjapuri Devi temple is a revered Hindu place of worship dedicated to Goddess Parvati. Besides being one of the fifty two Shaktipeethas, the shrine is popular for its mesmerising locale which offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Shivalik range and the majestic peaks of Chaukhamba and Bandarpunch.
Raghunath Temple is a revered Hindu temple situated near the Triveni Ghat. Dedicated to Lord Rama and his wife Mata Sita, the shrine holds significant religious importance. The temple premises also house a tiny pond (kund) which is known as Rishikund.
Situated near Purani Jhadi in Rishikesh, Swami Dayanand Ashram was established in 1960s by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. The centre facilitates yoga and meditation practices and a tiny temple in the complex is meant to offer pooja.
Parmarth Niketan is an ashram located in Rishikesh on the foothills of the Himalayas along the banks of the holy Ganges. It is visited by thousands of pilgrims all over the world to learn Yoga, Ayurveda, and Meditation. Satsang, Kirtans, Ganga Arti, Spiritual and Cultural programs and lectures are also organised here daily.
Vashishta Gufa is an ancient cave where the human son of Lord Brahma, Sage Vashishta meditated. A legend states that the sage was extremely depressed after losing all his children and decided to commit suicide, but River Ganga didn’t allow him to die. He, therefore, decided to stay and meditate in the cave.
Garud Chatti Waterfalls is one of the most majestic and beautiful waterfalls in Rishikesh. Situated around 5 kms away from Lakshman Jhula, the waterfalls cascade down the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple. At the base of the trek to the waterfalls, there is also a revered Garud Temple.
Located around 7 kms from Lakshman Jhula, Patna Waterfalls are right next to the Patna village in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. The highlight of the waterfalls is also a limestone cave situated right next to it.
Situated 4 kms away from Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh, Himshail Waterfalls is one of the most calm and serene places in the city. It is popular for yoga and meditation practices because of the peaceful environment. There is also a Tat Baba Cave situated right next to it.
Phool Chatti Waterfalls are located in between Garudchatti and Neer Garh Waterfalls and are mostly hidden away from view in between dense trees and bushes. Located 7 kms from Lakshman Jhula, the region has several resorts where you stay to enjoy nature at its best.