At the foothills of the Himalayas along the banks of the sacred river Ganges, lies the town of Rishikesh, The first town this holy river reaches on its descent from the mountains, Rishikesh is town of manly ashrams and hermitages. Popularly adored for its scenic beauty dotted besides the holy Ganges, Rishikesh is traditionally known as the spiritual capital of the globe. Most of the temples and ashrams are on the banks of the Ganges at Rishikesh.
From the music legends like 'The Beatles" to new age celebrities, everyone wants to come down to this city of Yogi's and Temples. During the mid-1960s. The Beatles (visited the now closed Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram) and several other artists. including Mike Love of The Beach Boys, Donovan and Gyp Mills, visited the site to contemplate and meditate. It seems modern Rishikesh experiences little shortage of people traveling from all over the globe in pursuit of enlightenment and spiritual bliss .
The Yoga Capital
The Yoga Capital Rishikesh is internationally termed as capital of Meditation and Yoga The town is famous for its yoga sessions that are taught here by many yoga experts. The city has several yoga centres that attract domestic as well as foreign tourists. It is believed that meditation at the bank of the river Ganga in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of salvation, or moksha. as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it. Rishikesh is home to many ashrams, and most major Ashrams, including Vivekananda, Sivananda, Osho. Bihar school of yoga, having their yoga centres. It is a good place to experience classical Indian yoga. Class instruction may leave a few gaps for students used to the precision of western classes, but with its slow and spiritual atmosphere, it's an enjoyable place to begin discovering what India has to offer.
The ancient art of Indian Yoga is very special, physical, breathing and spiritual exercises, to get perfect balance and harmony between the physical, physiological and spiritual health. Yoga includes many types. including Hatha-yoga, Raj-yoga, Karma-yoga, Bhakti-yoga, Mantra-yoga, Kriya Yoga and Laya Yoga. Ashrams in Rishikesh have all the required facilities for Yoga. An annual International Yoga Week Festival is organised in Rishikesh, usually during the months of March. Leading spiritual leaders, Yoga teachers, Meditation teachers, Naturopath doctors and thousands of devotees participate in the festival.
Major Yoga Learning Centres
- Paramarth Niketan
- Sivanand Ashram
- Yoga Niketan
- Omkaranand Ashram
- Vanprastha Ashram
- Ved Niketan Dayanand
- Vedanta Ashram
- Vanmali GitaYogashram
When to Visit
In Rishikesh, the winters last from November to March, when temperatures fall below 5-6t. The monsoons are generally experienced in the months of July and August. With introduction of river rafting on Ganges. adventure tours and people increasing interest in traditional Indian activities like yoga, meditation and Ayurveda has made Rishikesh the destination of round the year. Depending on the activity, Rishikesh can be visited best in the months of:
March -April: River Rafting /Yoga Meditation/ Low altitude easier treks in the Himalayas.
May-June : Long & high altitude treks in the Himalayas/ Pilgrimage to Yamnotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. Water skiing in Asan Barrage.
July - September: Valley of Flowers and -44 Hemkund trek/ Pilgrimage to Chardham as well.
October-15th November: River Rafting and Camping on the beaches along the river/ Pilgrimage; Yoga and meditation
15th November to February: Wildlife Safaris in Rajali & Corbett National park I River Rafting / Skiing in Auli.
What to See
Ram and Laxman Jhoola: As you drive into Rishikesh from Haridwar, you will first pass by the impressive Ram Jhula, a suspension bridge swaying above the swirling Ganga waters. A very moving experience is to stand in the centre of Ram Jhula and look down at the river. On a good day, you'll see fish through the clear water. On an average day, you'll be struck by the power physical and metaphysical - the Ganga commands over all who have visited her banks and those who haven't. Eternal icon of India and her people, she is loved, revered and, now, sought to be tamed by adventurers who ride her rapids around Rishikesh. Ram Jhoola connects Sivanand Ashram on the west bank with Swargashram on the east, and hence gets its more popular name - Shivanand Jhoola.
Further upstream is the point where Lord Ram's brother Laxman is believed to have crossed the Ganga on a jute rope. Today, Laxman Jhoola, another suspension bridge very similar to Ram Jhoola, affords an easier crossing. If Ram Jhoola is associated with earnest worship with its cluster of ashrams, Laxman Jhoola is the centre for good times with its bazaars and crowded cafés. The view from the cafes overlooking the jhula - temples, bathing ghats. prayer flags and strips of clean, sandy beaches lining the river - is inspiring. On crossing the bridge, you will find two colourful and imposing 13 storey temples, Swarg Niwas and Shri Tryambakeshwar.
Bharat Mata Mandir: Built by Adi Shankaracharya around 12th century, Bharat Mata Mandir is situated in the heart of the old town on the Banks of the Ganges. Detailed account of this oldest temple of Rishikesh are available in ancient record of Kedarkhand. The Inner sanctum of the temple has the idol of lord Vishnu, carved out of a single Saligram. In the inner canopy above the idol is shree yantra installed by Adi Shankaracharya. The original temple was destroyed by Taimur lang in 1398 A.D. Lot of old statues, coins, pots and other things of historical importance were found in recent excavations in the premises of the temple.
Triveni Ghat:The main ghat in the town area where most of the pilgrims take holy dip. Triveni Ghat is the main bathing ghat. where the three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati flow together. The dusk Aarti on the ghat is most impressive and is a real sight to behold. Devotees release flower-filled leaf boats carrying tiny oil lamps and let them float out on the river. which is a ceremony of worship, remembrance and hope.
Geeta Bhawan:One of the oldest temple complex in the area. The famous Indian epic Ramayana and Mahabharata are described here on the walls.
Parmarth Niketan:One of the most renowned temple complex and ashram in the area. Known for its substantial work on hinduism, there is a school run on traditional Indian Patterns. The ashram organises excellent Ganga Arti and Hawan on the Parmarth Ghat every evening.
Swarg Ashram:One can find numerous temples here. This place has the eating joints and shops where one can do shopping. The beautiful statues in the area mesmerise the visitors. This place is full of ashrams and temples. Plenty of kiosks and restaurants are found around here. It is one of the oldest ashram in Rishikesh. Its founder Swami Vishudhanand was also known as the Kali Kamli Wala (one with the black blanket). Today Kali Kamli Wala kshetra is a mammoth organisation embracing many activities.
Tera Manzil Temple:A multi-story temple complex of idols of hindu Gods, and Goddesses. Very popular among the domestic pilgrims. One can have an excellent view of the entire area from the top floor of the temple complex. Sunset view from this place in winters is a excellent option.
How to Reach
- Air: From Rishikesh nearest airport is Dehradun Airport at Jollygrant which is 25 kms far
- Rail: Ramjhula is only 4km far from Rishikesh railway station
- Road: Rishikesh is well connected with road by other cities.
Where to Stay
- P.W.D. Inspection House (Haridwar Road):0135-2430660
- T.H.D.C. Guest House (Bypass Marg, Rishikesh):0135-2431462
- Irrigation Department Guest House (Pashulok) :0135-2456167
- Door Sanchar Guest House:0135-2435209
- I.D.P.L. Guest House(Virbhadra, Rishikesh):0135-2457752
- Forest Guest house (Muni-ki-Reti):0135-2442052
Neer Garh Waterfall : Neer Garh is a waterfall very close to Lakshman Jhula. By car it's just a 10 minutes drive. The walk from the road side up to the falls takes about 30 minutes. It is a very pleasant walk with lovely nature and smaller falls.
Kunjapuri Temple: Drive to Kunja Puri, one of the thirteen most important Goddesses of Shivalik range, the lower Himalayas. One can witness excellent sunrise or sunset on the Greater Himalayan Peaks and the vast India Gangetic plains. One can see almost all the peaks of Garhwal Himalayas from here.Bandar Poonchh (6316 Mts). Swarga Rohini (6252 Mts), Gangotri (6672 mts), Chaukhamba (7138 mts) etc.
Vashisht Gufa (Cave) & Shin Shiva Land, Sirasu: One hour drive from Rishikesh up river is situated Vasishtha Gufa, where famous Saint Vasishtha meditated on the banks of the Ganges. The cave is very peaceful and is a perfect place for meditation & other side of holy river Ganga a land of spirituality. Shin Shiva land is situated in village Sirasu.
Haridwar:Haridwar, literally means The gateway to the Gods. It's the place where the river Ganga descends to the plain. A Gateway to the four pilgrimage of Uttarakhand, Haridwar is variously mentioned as Mayapuri, Gangadwar, Mokhsadwar in the ancient Hindu scriptures and epics. A major Shaktipeeth from time immemorial, the place is believed to have both sanctified by the powerful trinity of Hindu mythology - Brahma. Vishnu and Mahesh. This is why the place has been an ever-refreshing mystic venue for the purification of the mind, body and soul.
Mussoorie :Mussoorie has rightly earned for itself the epithet of, Queen of Hill Stations as it oozes with the true resplendence of nature that any other place would die to be called as, among the rest of the Hill Stations in India. Cascading waterfalls. the woods in the neighbourhood and grassy slopes, all add up to the beauty of Mussoorie as a must visit Hill Station in India. Places of interest are, Kempty falls, Lal Tibba. coupled with the activities of the genre of Dehradun-Mussoorie Trekking and Gun Hill Trekking which is the second most highest place of this Hill Station in India, add up to the beauty of Mussoorie.
Chila:It is just 20 kms from Rishikesh. The whole place is covered with forests and provides very pleasant environment. Government has declared Chila a sanctuary. A canal from Ganga feeds the reservoir where one can spot many animals with a good elephant population.The animals include wild boar, nilgai, sambhar, spotted deer etc. One can stay at the forest tourist lodge and enjoy the peaceful scenic surroundings
Narendra Nagar :15 kms on the Rishikesh Chamba road is located the historical town of Narendra Nagar. This town is of archaeological importance. The town was built by the King of Tehri Narendra Singh. Narendra Nagar has recorded many events which have left their impact on the town. The Royal Palace is worth seeing and the huge magnificent Nandi bull cannot escape your attention. Today Narendra Nagar is known for The Ananda' the Spa and Super Luxury Hotel, only one of its kind in the Himalayas.
Shivpuri & Kaudiyala:The Ganga comes rushing down from the mountains, passing through Kaudiyala (40 km) and Shivpuri (19 km), before it reaches Rishikesh. Here, it slows down, before bursting into whitewater rapids as it descends into the plains. Rafting in the Ganges has plenty of rapids with telling names - Roller Coaster, Three Blind Mice, Daniel's Dip and Black Money. All these have made Shivpuri. Kaudiyala and Rishikesh favoured venues for rafting. Several adventure sport agencies offer packages for white-water rafting and treks to the Char Dhams, Har-ki-Dun and the Valley of Flowers. All rafting operators have riverside camps with tents for overnight stay, and all the necessary equipment is part of the package.