Located in the picaresque district of Dehradun in Uttarakhand, Rishikesh has had a very prominent place in Indian culture, religion and mythology from time immemorial. The region is located in the foothills of the Himalayas, and is also known as the home of the gods. Along with its twin city Haridwar, it has also known as a heritage city in India. Rishikesh is also known as the Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas and since 1989, has also been hosting the Yoga Festival each March. The region has received the footprints of wise sages and saints from the past and is considered very holy by the pilgrims. In other words, the list is endless when it comes to the various feathers this hill city has on its cap and visiting Rishikesh is sure to bring one pure joy.
Places to Visit Near in Rishikesh
Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh
Sightseeing in Rishikesh has to start with Lakshman Jhula. The hanging bridge has a lot of significance in the local culture because it is believed, that Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Ram, crossed the river Ganga right at this point, where the bridge currently stands. The bridge is made entirely of iron and has is 450 feet long and 70 feet high above the water. The view of the Ganga from the bridge is stunning as one gets a view of the most famous temples in Rishikesh. The region is also one of the most important passage options for the pilgrims who are going to Kedarnath and Badrinath. This bridge was built after 1924, when the earlier bridge was washed away due to floods. It takes less than an hour to reach the bridge from the center of the bridge and the bridge can be crossed between 5 am in the morning to 10 pm at night.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple Rishikesh
The Mahadev temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the oldest temples in the region and it still requires one to trek through a forest path of 7 km to reach the temple. It is a three hour walk and the pilgrims choose to undertake it as a mark of their reverence for the god. One can also reach the temple via Lakshman jhula and taxies can also be availed to reach the temple in case one is unable to walk. The waters from the Ganga are used to offer the prayers to the deity here. The ambience around the temple is sure to stir the spiritual emotions of the pilgrims.
Rafting at Rishikesh
The huge number of mountain rapids in Rishikesh provides the perfect circumstances to go for river rafting. A number of tour operators operate here and they can help you book your slots. There are various stretches one can opt for like from Brahmagiri to Rishikesh, or from Kaudiyal to Rishikesh. The perfect time for river rafting in Rishikesh is from mid- February to May, since before that the rapids are frozen and after that the monsoons set in. It is one of the best adventure sports that one can enjoy in the country and the views along the rapids of mountain forests and hills are spellbinding.
Triveni Ghat Rishikesh
Your sightseeing in Rishikesh cannot be complete unless you have witnessed the Maha Aarti in the Triveni Ghat at twilight. Pilgrims from far and wide come here to witness the aarti, which is offered as a prayer to worship the River Ganga. The Triveni Ghat is also mentioned in the Indian epics of Ramayana and the Mahabharata and is believed Lord Krishna himself visited this place and was later cremated here. The pilgrims come here to take dips in the holy waters here, believing that it will wash away all their sins. The Ghat is open from 5 am to 9 pm.
Kaudiyala is just about 22 km from the city center of Rishikesh is famous for its rock climbing. Adventure sports enthusiasts come here for rock climbing and also for white river rafting. There are also camping facilities available here and there is something truly magical about sleeping under the stars because of the clear night sky one sees here. A number of adventure sports operators operate here and they will make all the arrangements for your stay at this picaresque and exciting location. It is also a major picnic spot in Rishikesh.
There are a number of places in Rishikesh that tour operators will take you to if you want to try bungee jumping and the deep gorges of the region are perfect for that. A cable or a chord is tied to the body as one jumps freely off a ridge or a cliff and then enjoys the feeling as the chord is pulled back and one is left hanging over the cliff. Bunjee Jumping in Rishikesh is one of the most sought after adventure sports in country. There are many tourist places in Rishikesh that will enable you to engage in this sport.
The Beatles Ashram Rishikesh
The trip to Rishikesh would be incomplete without a visit to the Beatles Ashram. It was initially an ashram dedicated to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi but after the Beatles visited this ashram in 1968 to learn about transcendental meditation, the ashram was named after them. Today it serves as an eco- friendly tourist spot and one of the most relaxing places to be in. One can practice yoga, go for walks along the little trails along the ashram, or simply engage in bird watching as one takes in the sights and sounds of nature. One can also enjoy great views of the River Ganga by which it is located.
Rishikesh is known as the Yoga Capital of the country and one of the best places to experience it is in this ashram. The kind of yoga taught here is the Iyengar Yoga and it is based on achieving the balance between mind, body and soul. The daily aarti is performed here and chants from the Bhagvad Gita take place every day. The ashram itself is located right beside the River Ganga and the natural ambience of the place itself enhances ones spirits and opens up the mind.
What to Eat in Rishikesh?
If you are in Rishikesh, you cannot leave without trying the delectable local fare. You simply have to try the samosas, which are filled with fresh veggies and potatoes and masala chai to go with it. The Aloo Poori and the Chole Bhaturey are perennial favorites here. No meal is ever complete without a glass of lassi and you have to stop by to try the local momos that some of the shacks deliver. Among the sweetmeats, you have to try the jalebi and the laddoos among other things, like the Besan Laddoo. If you want to go to a restaurant or a café, then the Little Buddha Café is a must visit. They have the most delicious coffee and sandwiches in the region. You must also try out the pani- puri in the region and there is nothing like this tangy ball of goodness.
Where to Shop in Rishikesh?
- You cannot leave Rishikesh without some street shopping and it is one of the best places to buy some woolen clothes. Head to Shyampur Bazaar, a local haat, where you will get everything from shawls, stoles and lightweight jackets to dried fruits and nuts. The best time to visit the market is one a Wednesday or a Friday and you must not forget to check out the spices.
- The Laxman Jhula market is known for its wide array of shops that sell figures of various gods and goddesses along with other religious items. They are either carved out of stone or wood. The Garhwal Wool and Craft shop is another place to get them.
- The shops in the Gole Market are opened in the evenings and they are the best when it comes to Indian ethnic clothes and accessories. The winters see a wide array of woolen clothes sold here.
- The Rishikesh main market is visited by locals and foreigners alike and it is known for its shops of utensils of brass and copper. There are also shops that sell perfumes made from the various Himalayan herbs and orchids and other rare flowers.
- The Music for Soul shop is the best place to get hold of albums of by gone era as well as recent pop and rock music. On the other hand, CDs and DVDs of devotional songs and yoga postures are also to be found here and it truly reflects the ethos of the region.