WEEKEND GATEWAYS FROM DELHI: Rishikesh (Uttarakhand)
“Yoga Capital of the World”
Overview: Rishikesh Tourism
Situated along with the convergence of Ganga and Chandrabhaga, Rishikesh on the foothills of Himalayas is the hub of many ancient temples, popular cafes, yoga ashrams, and adventure sports.
Rishikesh is the most beautiful blend of spiritual and adrenaline-pumping experiences. With the Whitewater Rafting industry growing and a number of camping and cafe spots springing up, Rishikesh has grown immensely as a favorite, catering to people with different needs.
Rishikesh, over the years, has become extremely popular as the top spiritual destination in the world, especially after the Beatles association with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi here in the late ’60s. As it lies on the holy banks of the river Ganga, this place has been a hub of Sadhus (saints) and there are numerous ashrams teaching spirituality, yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda. With the tourists coming in, there has been a surge in the number of cafes and restaurants in the town, and they’re a lot of cafes serving English and American food and beverages. However, in the last few years, Rishikesh has also been developed as the hub of Adventure Sports in India as there is a multitude of options including White Water Rafting, Bungee Jumping, Flying Fox, Mountain Biking, etc. here. It also serves as the gateway to many Himalayan treks and is used as a popular camping site. Rishikesh is a must-visit for everyone visiting India to truly experience something new.
Places to Visit:
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. Located 5 kilometers to the northeast of the town Rishikesh in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, the entire bridge is made up of iron, is 450 feet long, and is situated at the height of 70 feet from the river. The Lakshman Jhula is extremely well known amongst tourists because of the rich mythological associations that are connected with the bridge. It is widely believed that Lord Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Rama, had crossed the river Ganga at this same site, where the bridge now majestically stands for all to see.
The construction of the bridge was completed in the year 1929, and presently, the Lakshman Jhula acts as an adjoining bridge across the river, along with the old route to the sacred shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath. In the present day scenario, the Lakshman Jhula is visited by thousands of tourists each year not just because of its ancient origins and religious sanctity, but also due to the recent developments that have taken place around the bridge. Grand temples and famous markets have sprung up in the vicinity, and the entire area is now a particularly renowned attraction in the entire Rishikesh.
Important places around the Lakshman Jhula include the Terah Manzil temple, the Lakshman temple, and the Ram Jhula. The entire area is imbued with a mystic, serene, and holy feeling to it. It is common to find people here profoundly submerged and engrossed in their religious traditions and meditations, as the entire area resonates with the sounds of the enchanting mantras and shlokas from the temple. All in all, a short visit to the temple is one filled with religious worship and tranquillity, both beautifully rolled together and amalgamated into one.
Neelkantha Mahadeva Temple:
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is dedicated to Shiva as Neelkanth is his other name. This temple is located around 7km from Swarg Ashram and the route is a 3-hour long walk along a forest path.
Another way to reach here is via Lakshman Jhula. A taxi might also take you there for a reasonable price. Pilgrims offer water from Ganga to this temple.
Also popularly known as the Guru Shri Ram Sukh Daasji, the Geeta Bhawan is a vast and spacious complex that is located on the banks of the river Ganga in Swargashram in Rishikesh, at the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. The Ashram 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, who flock to here to take a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges, listen to the discourses, and meditate.
Other than airy and large discourse halls, the ashram also has over one thousand rooms that are available free of cost for the devotees to stay at. The pious devotees are also served with simple vegetarian food and Indian sweets at nominal prices during their stay at the Geeta Bhawan. Be it a mere two-hour visit to the ashram, or a stay there for a few days, the experience imbues the devotee with tranquillity, peace, and devotion.
The visitors gladly indulge in the devotion of the River Ganges every evening, and the bathing ghats in front of the Geeta Bhawan offer them an opportunity to take a holy dip in its waters. The ancient Banyan tree that is located within the complex is also worthy of notice since this spot has been the site of penance for numerous saints. All in all, the Geeta Bhawan comes across as a place that is overflowing with religious fervor and calmness and is a must-visit while in Rishikesh.
Situated on the banks of the holy river Ganges, Triveni Ghat, as per its name, is the spot of the confluence of the three sacred rivers- Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. These rivers are considered extraordinarily pious and pure in the Hindu religion and are celebrated by every follower of this faith. It is believed that a dip in the holy waters by Triveni Ghat can purify you and cleanse you of all sins, worries, and fears. Many followers of the Hindu religion believe in the magical powers of these waters. The experience of walking into the widely worshipped River Ganga- letting the powerful yet calm waters surround you, feeling each droplet of water tingle against your skin as it sucks away your stress and all your worries, the transcendent ability of the water to let you feel at peace and sensing each sin being washed away under the gentle caress of the Lord’s smile- is an experience of a lifetime and one you must not miss.
Triveni Ghat plays an essential role in Hindu Mythology and is also mentioned in the epics Ramayan and Mahabharat. They say the great Lord Krishna was shot in the leg by an arrow shot by Jara- a hunter at this very spot. The Triveni Ghat is also where the chattri of Lord Krishna was constructed. In fact, the ghat is considered to be the cremation ground for the great Lord Krishna.
To sit by the banks of the mighty River Ganga, relaxing as the cool breeze ruffles the steady waters and then gently runs past us, the sun smiling at the waters and making them sparkle in the light as the tall trees and shrubs double up in the mirror water; is indeed a sight for sore eyes. The picturesque view of the sunset is magnificent. Along with the holy dips, the devotees also make offerings to the river in the form of milk, while feeding the fishes in the Ghat too.
Rafting in Rishikesh:
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 customized packages for camping and rafting at Rishikesh. Your food, water, and rafting arrangements are taken care of by operators if you want a stress-free outing. If you want to look into matters yourself, you can also make your arrangements while you’re there. The peak season sees Rishikesh pretty crowded, so you can keep a check over that detail when you are planning.
An iconic landmark, Ram Jhula, built-in 1986, 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 connects the religious ashrams situated on both sides of the river and offers a splendid bird’s eye view of the mighty Ganges and the serene nature at the foothills of the Himalayas.
- Bharat mandir
- Tera Manjil Temple
- Parmarth Niketan Ashram
- Rishi Kund
Events in Rishikesh:
Adventure Sports: River Rafting February – June
Rishikesh has earned the title of the river rafting capital of India. A favorite destination for adventure enthusiasts, battling the mighty Ganges, is a thrill matched by none other.
Ganga Dussehra 24th May
During Ganga Dussehra Festival, the air around you will be filled with the fragrance of flowers, as prayers and bells ring all around you. It is said that only one dip is enough to make your mind completely at peace. Big fairs are also organized at all the major ghats during this time.
International Yoga Festival, Parmarth Niketan Ashram 1st -7th March
During this one week festival, you can learn from the most revered of spiritual masters and gurus, how to be completely at one with your surroundings.
Best time to visit Rishikesh:
- March to May is a good time to Visit Rishikesh in Summer
- October to February is a good time to Visit Rishikesh in Winter
- June to September is a good time to Visit Rishikesh in Monsson.
How to Reach:
How to Reach Rishikesh by Flight
The nearest airport Jolly Grant is in Dehradun, away from Rishikesh. One can opt for a flight to Dehradun via Delhi or Lucknow and reach Rishikesh via the regular buses and taxis available from the airport.
Nearest Airport: Dehradun – 34 km from Rishikesh
How to Reach Rishikesh by Road
Rishikesh has regular bus services from Delhi, Haridwar, and Dehradun. One can opt for buses or hire cabs from these places to reach Rishikesh.
How to Reach Rishikesh by Train
The nearest railway station, Haridwar is 25 km from Rishikesh. Haridwar is well connected to major cities of the country via a number of regular express and superfast trains. One can take up a bus or cab available from the Haridwar station up to Rishikesh.