Rishikesh is a city, municipal council and a tehsil in Dehradun district of the Indian state, Uttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India. Rishikesh is surrounded by three districts: Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal and Haridwar. It is approximately 25 km north of the city Haridwar and 43 km southeast of the state capital Dehradun. It is known as the pilgrimage town and regarded as one of the holiest places to Hindus. Hindu sages and saints have visited Rishikesh since ancient times to meditate in search of higher knowledge.
Rishikesh also known as the ‘Yoga capital of the World’ and the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas’ has it all, from Temples to Adventure sports.
Here is my list of 8 things to do in Rishikesh.
- White water rafting
After the sangam at Devprayag, Alaknanda and Bhagirathi confluence together and flow as River Ganga. The stretch from Kaudiyala to Ram Jhula (Nim Beach) has a lot of rapids ranging from Grade I to IV making Rishikesh popular as a white water rafting destination. Rafting is done in the following stretches:
- Brahmpuri to Nim Beach (9 Kms)
- Shivpuri to Nim Beach (16Kms)
- Marine Drive to Nim Beach (24 Kms)
- Kaudiyala to Nim Beach (32 Kms)
Some of the major rapids which you might face are Cross Fire (Grade 3), Three Blind Mice (Grade 3), The Wall (Grade 4), Roller Coaster (Grade 3), Golf Course (Grade 3) etc.
Per person cost can vary anything between INR 250-1500 depending on the route and the tour operator.
Tip: Always find out the rates from 3-4 operators before finalising. The best time to do rafting is starting early morning by 8 as during the day, the queue increases and it gets sunny making it uncomfortable.
- Bungee Jumping
Recently, India’s highest Bungee Jumping platform has been built up some 80 Km from Rishikesh. The facility is managed by fully trained professionals from New Zealand. Jumping Heights is the only company operating in this domain.
Some Basic Info:
- Age: Minimum 12 yrs
- Weight: Minimum 35 kgs and Maximum 120 kgs
- Reporting Time: 9 AM
- Weekly off: Tuesday Closed
- Bungy Location: Mohanchatti (25 kms from Rishikesh)
The fixed platform extends to the middle of the valley, the bungee jumping is done from the height of 83 meters which is roughly 273 feet and equivalent to jumping from a building approx. 22 stories high. Jump masters from New Zealand brief you about the activity and tie a rubber cord to your ankle and assist you as you take the leap of faith from the fixed platform to feel the adrenaline rush.
Bungee Jumping costs INR 3500 per person.
- Ganga arti at Triveni ghat
Ganga arti also happens in Har ki Pauri, Haridwar, but witnessing arti at the Triveni Ghat during sunsets is a much better experience as it is not that crowded. Triveni Ghat is the most revered sacred bathing spot in Rishikesh and is situated on the banks of Ganges River.
It is of belief that those who take a dip in water at Triveni Ghat washes away all the sins and purifies the soul and will have salvation, a relief from all sins carried out; the water at Triveni Ghat has the power to purify them. Daily in the morning and evening there are thousands who take bath at Triveni Ghat and enjoy the Maha Aarti being performed.
Devotees make many offerings at Triveni ghat, in the early morning at sunrise they offer milk to the river and happily feed the fish in the Triveni Ghat.
The evening aarti, also known as the ‘Maha Aarti‘, which takes place at this ghat, is the major attraction among the tourists. This aarti is accompanied by chantings of bhajan, beating drums, bells and diyas glowing all over the place.
The devotees release small oil lamps placed on leaf boats in the water. These lamps floats down the river and provide a beautiful view. Ceremonies like ‘Pindha Shraddha‘ in the name of ancestors are also done at Triveni Ghat.
- A relaxing meal in one of the many cafes in Rishikesh overlooking the Ganges.
Being popular with the hippie crowd and foreigners, a lot of cafes serving food from all over the globe have opened up. A lot of these have a terrace overlooking the Ganges, which make the time spent here relaxing and rejuvenating. Some of the best rated restaurants on TripAdvisor are:
- The Sitting Elephant
- Bistro Nirvana
- Café Delmar/Beatles café
I have personally been to the Beatles café and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Read the review here.
- Beatles Ashram
Beatles visited Rishikesh in 1968 to learn transcendental meditation at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram and ended up staying here for a while. During this time they meditated and wrote a lot of songs which turned out to be all time favorites. The place where they meditated is open to tourists now. The ashram also called as Beatles ashram has a lot of murials and graffiti which takes one to another era all together.
After The Beatles visit to Rishikesh, the city came into limelight and became a popular destination among the international tourists. Not only had that but their visit also changed opinion of the western world about Indian spirituality. Yoga and meditation become new trend and Rishikesh become hub for the yoga and meditation internationally. Later Rishikesh became Yoga Capital of the World, Rishikesh is constantly inspiring and helping people which are looking for peace and stress free life.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram is now also known as The Beatles Ashram.
- A visit to the temples
The temples of rishikesh are highly revered. Rishikesh is full of countless small, big, new and very old temples, spread in the mean streets of the city.
Rishikesh is important not only as pilgrimage spot closely linked with the Ramayana, but also as home for numerous important places of Hindu religious thought and spirituality and as a very great Yoga hub.
Some ancient temples in Rishikesh attracts people from both far and near due to its significance. Some of the important temples in Rishikesh are Nilkanth Mahadeo temple, Kunjapuri temple, Parmarth niketan temple, Bharat mandir, Geeta bhawan, Tera manzil temple, Rishikund tank and Raghunath temple, and Triveni Ghat temple.
- Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula
Laxman Jhula – The prominent 450-foot long iron suspension bridge was built in 1939 over the Ganga River. It is said that Lord Ram’s brother Lakshman had crossed the River on a jute rope from here. This part of town is better known for its busy bazaars, restaurants and cafés and one can also visit the Lakshman and Raghunath temples here.
Ram Jhula – Just 2 km ahead downstream, at Muni-ki-Reti, is another suspension bridge built later connecting the areas of Shivanand Ashram on the east bank and Swargashram on the west.
Both of these are pedestrian-only bridges and are used to cross the River Ganga that flows through the town of Rishikesh and divides it into two parts. Both of them also stay true to their name ‘Jhula’, which means ‘swing’ in hindi, and sway slightly when you walk on it.
- Learn Yoga
Rishikesh is known as the Yoga capital of the world and one can see people from all over the globe meditating, doing yoga and leading a simple life in Rishikesh.There are numerous ashrams, and numerous styles of yoga and meditation, to choose from. Hence, it’s important to investigate which best meets your needs.
So what are you waiting for?
Arnav, is a civil engineer by profession and a hard core foodie and a travel aficionado at heart. Being an ARMY brat by birth, traveling and socializing is in his DNA. His belief is: “Go to a new place every month or two to explore, relax and live life to the fullest.”
Read more about his travel escapades at the ETLR blog.