Introduction: Rishikesh (or Hrishikesh) is a holy city and a muncipal board in Dehradun district in the Indian state of Uttaranchal. It is the holy city for Hindus located in the foothills of the Himalaya and a famous centre of pilgrimage. It is also known as the gateway to the Himalayas and is located around 25 km away from another holy city, Haridwar. It is the starting point for traveling to the sites that form the Char Dham pilgrimage — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.
History: The place gets its name after Lord Vishnu who appeared to 'Raibhya Rishi', as a result of his tapasya (austerities), as Lord Hrishikesh. In Skanda Purana, this area is known as 'Kubjamrak' as Lord Vishnu appeared, under a mango tree. Historically, Hrishikesh, has been a part of the legendary 'Kedarkhand' (the present day Garhwal), the abode of Shiva. Legends state that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka; and Lakshmana, his younger brother, crossed the river Ganga, at a point, where the present 'Lakshman Jhula' bridge stands today, using a jute rope bridge. The 'Kedar Khand' of Skanda Purana, also mentions the existence of Indrakund at this very point.
Description: Scenically located where the Ganges River comes down from the Himalayas, Rishikesh catapulted to Western fame when the Beatles dropped by for a visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram (now closed), and the town is still known as the World capital of yoga.
Rishikesh Quick facts
Rishikesh Geography and Climate
Geography: The altitude and geographical location of Rishikesh influence its climatic conditions. It is situated at an altitude of 356 m above sea level. The geographical location of Rishikesh is 30.7 North Latitude and 78.42 East Longitude.
Climate: The weather of Rishikesh can be studied with a glimpse towards its climatic conditions. In the months of summer the temperature in Rishikesh varies from 35 degrees to 45 degrees Celsius. The temperature ranges from 10 degrees to 30 degrees Celsius in the months of winter. The weather of Rishikesh often becomes unpredictable. There are frequent precipitation that takes place. The annual mean rainfall in Rishikesh is about 2136.7 mm.
Best time to visit Rishikesh
With introduction of river rafting on Ganga, adventure tours and peoples increasing intrest 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 month of :
March-April: River Rafting /Yoga Meditation/ Easier treks in the Himalayas.
May-June : Long treks in the Himalayas/Pilgrimage to Yamnotri, Gangotri and Badrinath.
July-September: Valley of Flowers and Hemkund trek/ Pilgrimage to Chardham
October-15th November: River Rafting and Camping on the beaches along the river/ Pilgrimage/Yoga and meditation
15th November to February: Wild life Safaris in Rajaji & Corbett National park / River Rafting / Sking in Auli/ Yoga
The best way to go around Rishikesh is on foot as the town is hilly and consists of narrow lanes. To cross the river take a motor ferry from the iron suspension bridge known as Ram Jhoola, which is near Swargashram, or walk across either Ram Jhoola or Lakshman Jhoola, 2 km upstream. Practised riders take two-wheelers over them, disturbing what is otherwise a tranquil walk.
Noisy tempos (called Vikrams or phatpatis) are affordable contraptions with amiable owners who have ‘arrangements’, so you might find yourself disembarking and getting on again en route, depending on the driver’s destination and the number of passengers left.
Rishikesh Near Getaways
Rishikesh is known as the gateway to the Himalayas and is located about 25 kilometers away from another holy city, Haridwar. Rishikesh is the starting point for traveling to the sites that form the Char Dham pilgrimage - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.
From Delhi the city is about 230 km away and is well connected with buses. In Rishikesh, there are several travel agencies scattered around Swarg Ashram and Lakshman Jhula that can book luxury buses to common destinations like Delhi Jaipur, Pushkar and Varanasi.
How to reach Rishikesh by Rail
A quiet branch line connects Rishikesh to Haridwar, but there are only about three slow trains daily. It's best to take the train to Haridwar and continue by bus.
Besides celebrating all the general Hindu festivals, there is a special festival celebrated in this area. The International Yoga Week usually celebrated from February 2-7 every year. This festival is the ideal place and time to learn some real yoga postures to keep oneself fit and fine. The International Yoga Festival is organized each year by the Parmath Niketan Ashram in association with Uttaranchal Tourism at Rishikesh.
Rishikesh, does not have a swinging lifestyle, as a pilgrimage centre, its entire life revolves around prayers and festivals. Being the gateway to the Char Dhams or the four famous pilgrims centres of Garhwal - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri, it is the destination for the young and the restless seeking renewal and cleansing of the mind and the soul.
Being a major centre, where the wise ones spent time in devotion, meditation and yoga, its ashrams or religious retreat centres offer lessons in meditation and treatment for a variety of stress induced ailments, using the ancient medical techniques. It is also the home to the annual International Yoga Festival held in early February.
Rishikesh Religious Places
Nilkanth Mahadeo: Nilkanth Mahadeo is one of the most venerated temples around Rishikesh, situated at a distance of approximately 12 km. It is situated on a hill above Swarg Ashram, at a height of around 1675 m. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the shrine commemorates the lord's divine act of drinking the poison left over from the churning of the oceans. This made his throat turn blue, thus giving the name, Nilkanth.
Bharat Mandir: Built by Adiguru Shankra Chrya arround 12th centuray, Bharat 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 anciant record of Kearkhand. 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 Sankraya Charya. The original temple was destroyed by Tamur lane in 1398 A.D. Lot of old statues , coins, pots and other things of historical importance were found in recent excavatiions in the premises of the temple.
Rishikund: Close to Trivenighat is the most anciant place, the rishikund. Anciant records relate this to Kubz Saint , who was blessed by the Goddess Yamuna by saturating this pond by its water.The pond reflects the temple of Ragunath , deicated to lord rama and his wife.
Geeta Bhawan :One of the oldest temple complex in the area. The famous Indian epic Ramayana and Mahabharta are described here on the walls.
Parmarth Niketan:One of the most renowned temple complex and ashram in the area . Known for its substaintial work on hinduism, three is a school run on tradtional Indian Patterns. The ashram organises ecellent Ganga Arti and Hawan on the Parmarth Ghat every evening.
Tera Manzil Temple :A multistory 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.
Kunjapuri temple: Drive to Kunja Puri, one of the thitrteen most important Goddesses of Shivalik range , the lower Himalayas.One can witness excellent sunrise or sun set on the Greater Hiamalayan Peaks and the vast Indo Gangetic plains.
Narendra Nagar; (Royal Palace) : Just 15 kilometres on the Rishikesh-Chamba road is the historical town of Narendra Nagar. This is a town of archaeological importance, built by the King of Tehri, Narendra Singh. The royal palace here is worth seeing as is the magnificent statue of Lord Shiva's attendant, the Nandi bull that stands here.
Gita Bhavan : Gita Bhavan is a building that was constructed a few years back, just across the Lakshman Jhula. The main attraction of the Bhavan comprises of attractive paintings and statues, based on the Hindu mythology.
Lakshman Jhula : The bridge lies around 3 km from Rishikesh, on the way to Badrinath and Kedarnath. Lakshman Jhula is the name given to an iron bridge, rebuilt way back in the year 1939. Initially, it was a very rickety jute bridge that is believed to have been used by Lakshmana (Lord Ram's brother), while crossing the Ganges.
Vashista Goofa: One hour drive from Rishikesh up river is situated Vasishtha Goofa , where famous saint vasishtha meditaed on the banks of the Ganges. The cave is very peaceful and is a perfect place for meditation.
White Water Rafting:- The Camp provides the facilities of White Water Rafting starting right from the camp covering 30 River Kms from The Camp till Rishikesh, total time taken is 05hrs. covering the rapids like Sweet Sixteen (grade-1), Marine Drive (grade-2), Three Blind Mice (grade-3), Cross Fire (Grade-3), roller Coaster (grade-4) and Golf Course (grade-4).
Trekking to Nearby Garhwali Village:- This is an interesting trek of theduration of 02hrs. to a very small Garhwali village, which will make you aware of the life style of Garhwalis, the flaura and fauna of that region. But moreover this treck will be a Bird Watching activity.
Rock Climbing & Rappelling:- In this basic class we'll cover the fundamentals of technical rock climbing/rappelling; knots, top ropes, belaying and rappelling also basic friction, face and crack climbing techniques. After practicing the basics, you'll follow your instructor on an easy but exhilarating multi-pitch climb, as part of a rope team.
Visit to Stalactite and Stalagmites Caves: It's a small drive of around one hour to Stalactite & Stalagmite caves, which is near Guller. On your way back you can visit Vashishth Caves for which the vehicle would drop you at Guller and you have to walk around 250 mts to visit the place.
Rishikesh is not a "Clubbers" destination but has a vibrant Cafe Culture, with a fine choice of places with views of the Ganga, to pass the night away. Rishikesh does not have much of night life except in the form of Hindu festivals. During these festivals people rejoice every moment. The whole town is lit up in nights. This is the only time when the nights are enjoyable and fun.
Kidding around Rishikesh
Kids can enjoy on the Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula. They can enjoy in the rivulets. River rafting is a great experience in Rishikesh.
Rishikesh offers you handicraft items made of shells, beads and pearls. Sarees, kurtas, sheets and rugs can be purchased from here. You can buy these items from the government approved U.P handloom shop, Khadi Bhandar, Garhwal wool and craft shop etc.
As with most holy cities cum tourist destinations there's a plethora of religious paraphenalia, cheap clothing aimed at foreigners, incense, bronze shiva statues, etc. Unlike many other similar towns in India prices here are usually reasonable and you won't have to haggle hard for a good price.
Famous To Eat at Rishikesh
Non-vegeterian food has been banned in the city for many many years. North and south Indian food is widely available, and there's no shortage of multi-cuisine backpacker cafes, especially in Lakshman Jhula. What excites many foreigners is the delicious Ayurvedic and health food restaurants, perfect for an after-yoga meal.
Rishikesh Museum and Hill Stations
Mussoorie: (Garhwal Hills, Uttaranchal) The most frequented hill station in north India, Mussoorie has a pleasant climate all round year. Its proximity to Delhi, make it a favorite haunt for tourists especially during hot sultry summers. The town's proximity to major Hindu pilgrimage sites like Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Haridwar and Rishikesh enhances its importance as a major tourist destination.
Gardens and Parks at Rishikesh
Raja Ji National Park : The park is spread over an area of 820.42 sq. km. in three Districts- Dehradun, Haridwar & Pauri Garhwal of Uttaranchal State, India. This is one of the biggest park in North India situated at the meeting point of Himalayan foothills and Indo Gangetic plains. This park is a paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. The wildlife of the park is blessed with elephants, tigers, leopards, deer and ghorals as its best known life forms.
Chilla: Entertainment spot for children Chilla, situated just 16 km away from the main Rishikesh town, is famous for the Rajaji National Park. The park (820 sq km) has wildlife in abundance and is especially known for its wild elephants which attracts children very much.
Lake at Rishikesh
Satopnath Lake: Satopnath Lake in Uttaranchal in one of the most difficult trekking spots in Uttaranchal yet surpasses the other regions in its sheer beauty and serenity. Situated at a height of 14, 300 feet this is a beautiful triangular glacial lake amidst the Garhwal Himalayas.
River Ganga: The sacred river Ganga flows through Rishikesh. In fact, it is here that the river leaves the Shivalik mountains Himalayas, and flows out into the plains of northern India. Several temples, ancient as well as new, can be found along the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh.
Triveni Ghat : Triveni Ghat is the name of a bathing ghat in Rishikesh. People go there every morning as well as evening to take a dip in the holy waters. A Maha Arti is also performed at the ghats every day.