Rishikesh | rishikesh best time to visit |
Against the backdrop of the Himalayas and with the pristine Ganga flowing through it, the ancient city of Rishikesh in Uttarakhand is one of the major tourist and pilgrimage destinations in northern India, where people from all over the world come in search of peace. Rishikesh is commonly known as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’ and rightly so.
The destination is thronged with visitors, who come here to learn yoga and meditation. Rishikesh has many ashrams, some of which are internationally recognized as centers of philosophical study, yoga, and other ancient Indian traditions of wellness.
The Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board organizes the annual International Yoga Festival (IYF) here, which attracts thousands of yoga enthusiasts. There are many legends associated with Rishikesh. Rishikesh is said to be mentioned in the ancient text Skanda Purana and the epic Ramayana. It is said that Lord Rama along with his brothers came to Rishikesh to do penance after killing Ravana.
Rishikesh is also known for its association with the Beatles. In February 1968, members of the legendary English rock band visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram (now known as the Beatles Ashram) to learn Transcendental Meditation. The band composed approximately 48 songs during their time at the Maharishi’s ashram, many of which appear on the White Album (and some from Abbey Road).
John Lennon recorded a song called ‘The Happy Rishikesh Song’ after his visit. Many other international artists including the Beach Boys’ Mike Love, Paul Horn, Donovan, and Gyp Mills have visited the site to contemplate and meditate.
Rishikesh is also a town of quaint cafes, which offer local and international cuisines and are mostly packed with tourists. Interestingly, in the last couple of years, Rishikesh has become very popular for its vibrant Holi celebrations, mostly organized by private hotels and resorts
Why is This Place Called Rishikesh?
According to one legend, the city got its present name from Rishikesh – one of the names of the Hindu god Vishnu, the Lord of the senses. It is believed that the great Hindu sage Raibhya Rishi did long penance at this place on the banks of the holy river Ganges.
In the Satya Yuga (the first of the four Yugas) of Lord Vishnu, Hayagriva incarnated and killed the demons Madhu and Kaitabh (the war lasted for 5000 years). After killing them, the Lord went to the forest to do penance, when he saw Rabhya Rishi meditating.
The Skanda Purana mentions that as a reward for the saint’s sadhana, Vishnu appeared to him in the incarnation of Lord Hrishikesh and blessed Rabhya Rishi and gave him this divine message: “As long as you have performed the highest penance (penance) by controlling your senses, then that place should be recognized by Hrishikesh.”
Another legend says that a fierce fire broke out here in Rishikesh. Lord Shankar got angry with Lord Agni and cursed him. Lord Agni then prayed for salvation here, and the area came to be known as Agni Tirtha – the holy place of penance of Lord Agni or the fire god.
Others say that the city’s name comes from the words rishi (sage, prophet, holy sage) and kesh (dreadlocks). All the saints passed through this place on the way to Char Dham. Usually, they had long hair and used to wash their hair in the holy Ganges water.
Attractions Around the Rishikesh
In the Swargashram area, nestled in a forest patch, is the former ashram of Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, also known as Chaurasi Kutiya and Beatles Ashram, where the famous musician stayed and learned transcendental meditation. You can walk around the ruins of the ashram, enjoying the peace and quiet of the area, with the striking graffiti of band members painted on the walls.
A group of ashrams situated on the eastern bank of the Ganges is known as Swargashram. Most of these ashrams offer courses on yoga and spiritual studies and are famous among tourists.
Near Triveni Ghat, is one of the oldest temples in Rishikesh, the Bharata Temple, which is said to have been built by the sage Adi Shankaracharya. This ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, whose idol is carved out of a single black stone, known as Saligrama. If you’re lucky, celebrate the spring festival called Basant Panchami here.
Located in the heart of the city, Triveni is the most famous bathing ghat (river bank) where most pilgrims take a holy dip before visiting the temples of Rishikesh. A wonderful sight here is the evening aarti, a ceremony accompanied by lights, drums, and chanting, with the entire ghat lit up with twinkling lamps.
It is one of the largest ashrams in Rishikesh and one of the most popular, especially for the annual yoga festival that it hosts. Established in 1942 by Swami Sukhdevanand Ji Maharaj, the ashram is situated on the banks of the river Ganges and is a serene retreat for yoga and meditation.
Built in 1939, this 137-meter-long suspension bridge, rising 21 meters above the river, is believed to be at the same place where Lord Lakshmana (from the epic Ramayana) is said to have crossed the river Ganges with the help of jute. ropes.
Laxman Jhula is the most iconic structure of Rishikesh that most of us have seen in movies and television. Nearby is the suspension bridge Ram Jhula. The 3-kilometer walk from Laxman Jhula to Ram Jhula is an interesting one, with small shops selling attractive knick-knacks.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple:-
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is a sacred and famous temple located 32 km away from Rishikesh. Situated on a hill at an altitude of 1330 meters, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is one of the most popular temples of Lord Shiva. Nelkanth Temple is a famous pilgrimage center near Rishikesh, this temple is situated atop the Swargashram adjacent to the Nar Narayan mountain range.
This small but picturesque village is located in Tehri Garhwal district (it was the capital of the erstwhile Tehri State) and just 20 km from Rishikesh. Situated at an altitude of 1,326 meters, its salubrious climate attracts tourists throughout the year. And since it’s not that popular, expect peace and quiet. It offers panoramic views of the Ganges and the Doon Valley.
Located at a distance of 19 km from Rishikesh, Shivpuri has emerged as a popular tourist destination due to the thrilling whitewater rafting experience it offers. The most common rafting stretch (about 11 km) is from Shivpuri to Laxman Jhula.
There is a newly constructed building of Geeta Bhawan near Laxman Jhula. It runs a free Ayurvedic dispensary and is also a branch of Gita Press. The stories from the epic Ramayana and Mahabharata are beautifully depicted on its walls.
Activities One Can Do While in Rishikesh
Spiritual Walk Tour In Rishikesh:-
Rishikesh, situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, is a popular stopover for Indian spiritual travelers and trekkers. The Himalayan peaks and the rivers flowing around this region attract thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. Book a Spiritual Walking Tour in Rishikesh and start exploration from Trimbakeshwar Temple, cover most spiritual places, and end at Parmarth Niketan Aarti Sthal.
Visit various temples along the banks of the river Ganges describing the mythological social aspects of the Himalayas and the Ganges. Look at its culture and tradition and discuss the religious aspects and their impact on the Hindu social system and life. Get a chance to be a part of the world-famous Ganga Aarti, which is witnessed by thousands of people every day.
River rafting is an activity that involves sailing on rapids on a rubber boat. It is a thrill-filled activity that has gained popular momentum in the Indian adventure sports scenario. The proximity of Rishikesh to the Upper Himalayas along with the Ganga passing through this city makes it a very popular place for river rafting in Rishikesh.
Due to its location, people come to Rishikesh for this activity. If you are traveling and want to have an adrenaline-pumping activity, then add river rafting to your bucket list of things to do in Rishikesh.
Bungee jumping in Rishikesh is a fun activity that involves jumping from a tall structure like a vertical rail, building, or cliff while being suspended from a rope harness. The fun is in jumping and retreating when they are tossed back and the rope is fully stretched.
This is a very unique activity in India, which was introduced a few years back in Rishikesh. For those who enjoy an adrenaline-filled activity, this is one that should be on your list of things to do in Rishikesh.
Like bungee jumping, Giant Swing also works on the same principle. But unlike bungee jumping, which is a free fall, on a giant swing, a person’s rope harness is attached to a holding point from which they swing. Simply put, imagine that person is a pendulum ball and is swinging from one end to the other.
Due to the similarity between the activities it is usually held at the same place as bungee jumping. The distance covered in Giant Swing Adventure varies between 1 to 1.5 km. It is a thrilling activity that will surely tickle your adventure bone.
Visit Tera Manzil Temple:-
Tera Manzil Mandir or Trayambakeshwar or Trimbakeshwar Temple is the place where all the Hindus can worship all their deities in one place. This 13 storied temple situated on the banks of the river Ganga is clearly visible from the Lakshman Jhula.
It is one of the most famous tourist places and one of the top things to do in Rishikesh. This temple has an attractive, symmetrical structure and visitors are attracted by its beauty. From the top stories of this temple, one can view the stunning sunset here. The Ganga Aarti performed in the evening is also a sight that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Witness the Beauty of Neer Gaddu Waterfall:-
Neer Gaddu or Neer Garh Falls is a natural waterfall located on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway in Uttarakhand. It is one of the most popular things to do in Rishikesh. You will be stunned by the beauty of this natural waterfall as you take a short trek toward it.
In the summer season, tourists can take a dip in the cool water flowing through the natural rocks and cliffs in a narrow stream. This two-tiered waterfall has two bathing pools and a trek will lead you to the larger waterfall which has a larger pool. There are small resting places on two small bridges on either side of the waterfall where you can take a little rest and move on.
Rishikund, a holy pond located near Raghunath Temple and Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh, is said to be blessed by Goddess Yamuna through holy water. This sanctuary is dedicated to Lord Rama and Sita. You can see the impression of Lord Rama inside the sanctum.
An interesting fact about Rishikund is that the image of Raghunath temple is always visible in the water of this pond. You have to take a flight of ten steps towards the pond which enjoys the shade of the trees that surround it. If you are looking for some self-reflection and time out, then you must visit Rishikund and sit near it and feel the peaceful atmosphere which makes it one of the best things to visit in Rishikesh.
If you’ve done your research, you already know that Rishikesh is one of the best places for rock climbing in India. Many people from all over the world visit this city to try various adventure sports. If you are one of them, then you must try rock climbing in the Shivalik hills.
This range is considered one of the best because of the steep climb and topography. This activity not only requires basic strength but also requires you to maintain mental stability. When you are hanging on the ropes and have no choice but to slowly climb up, your mind and body become more alert and you start enjoying the adrenaline rush.
Are you environmentally conscious? Do you cycle to work? Well, you can break this habit during your trip to Rishikesh. One of the best activities to do in Rishikesh, mountain biking is the perfect way to explore this hill town. Biking on varying topography and steep roads is a thrilling experience in itself.
If you think you have what it takes to ride on mountains, then you should give it a try. Various forest and river routes are at your disposal to experience it. Gather your friends and head out for various bicycle tours in Rishikesh that will reveal the best of the sights throughout your journey.
Visit Rajaji National Park:-
One of the famous national parks of India is Rajaji National Park located in Uttarakhand. The park has 3 different entry points, one of which is near Rishikesh and is known as Chilla Range. One of the best activities to do in Rishikesh is taking a safari in Rajaji National Park with a local guide.
Jeep Safari in Rishikesh is an adventure in the city. This park is known for having the maximum number of elephants in all of India. It also houses a variety of wild animals such as sambar deer, barking deer, antelopes such as nilgai and goral, tigers, leopards, and monkeys. Adding to this kitty, there is a huge variety of Himalayan birds, numbering up to 400 species.
Birds most sought after by tourists and bird-watchers include the scaly thrush, rusty treecreeper, snowy-brood flycatcher, bush warbler, leaf warbler, black-necked stork, and blue magpie.
Imagine majestic mountains, freshwater rivers and streams, picturesque valleys, and beautiful flora and fauna. Picture yourself trekking through them and enjoying the glory of it all. If it is something that interests and excites you then Rishikesh is the perfect place for you to go trekking.
Being in the foothills of the upper Himalayas, it is an ideal place for anyone to trek. Rishikesh’s proximity to places like Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath makes it an ideal place to start trekking or trekking. For a journey through nature and its pricelessness, put this on your bucket list of things to do in Rishikesh.
Visit Kunjapuri Temple:-
If you are still looking for peaceful things to do in Rishikesh then you can check out the Kunjapuri Temple situated on top of a hill. This will become your favorite place to spend some alone time on your travels. This temple is of great importance to the Hindus as the burnt chest of Sati fell here. Perched on a hill at an altitude of about 1,700 meters, the temple offers a breathtaking view of the snow-capped mountains and peaks that surround it.
Many devotees believe in starting their new year by seeking blessings at this temple. You can visit this temple for blessings or just to spend a peaceful time.
Fascinating history and intriguing mythology meet at the crossroads of this beautiful hill station, one of the most popular in the country. Nestled in the rolling Doon Valley and the foothills of the Himalayas, just 240 km from Delhi, Dehradun is surrounded by lofty mountains and lush sal forests. Known for its pleasant weather and beautiful surroundings, the city is the gateway to many popular hill stations like Mussoorie and pilgrimage centers like Haridwar and Rishikesh.
Offering a mix of unique landscapes and modern amenities, bustling Dehradun is a city for both business and leisure. Once a retirement haven, today it buzzes with excitement, yet manages to maintain its laid-back atmosphere. Unique cafes and lounges are adjacent to heritage monuments and markets. From Rishikesh to Dehradun distance is 43.1 km.
One of the holiest pilgrimage centers in India, Haridwar, or ‘Gateway of the Gods’, is the place where the Ganges, the holiest of all Indian rivers, enters the Indo-Gangetic plains. Situated in the foothills of the Himalayas, Haridwar is a city of temples and ashrams and its holy atmosphere envelops everyone.
Haridwar is one of the four holy Indian cities that host the Kumbh Mela, a holy gathering of millions of Hindu devotees, every 12 years. Ardh Kumbh is organized here every six years. It also organizes the Kanwar Mela every year during the rainy season.
Located in the periphery of Haridwar are the ‘Panch Tirtha’ or five pilgrimages, Gangadwara (Har Ki Pauri), Kushavart (Ghat), Kankhal, Bilwa Tirtha (Mansa Devi Temple), and Neel Parvat (Chandi Devi). Haridwar also serves as the gateway to the Char Dhams of Uttarakhand. From Rishikesh to Haridwar distance is 19.7 km.
Steeped in old-world charm, the picturesque town of Chamba in Uttarakhand lies at an elevation of 1676 meters above sea level in the foothills of the Himalayas. Chamba offers the most breathtaking views of mighty peaks, misty deep valleys, and lush green valleys, Chamba offers untouched, untouched snow-clad mountains on one side and a spectacular view of the valley on the other.
After the submergence of Old Tehri, Chamba Tehri has become a fast-emerging tourist destination in Garhwal. It is undoubtedly a paradise for those looking for a respite from the monotonous hustle and bustle of city life.
What is the Best Time to visit Rishikesh?
Given the pleasant weather of Rishikesh, the city can be visited throughout the year.
How much time is enough for Rishikesh?
You can either plan a 2 days trip to Rishikesh or go for 4 to 5 days and indulge in experiences like yoga, bungee jumping, cafe hopping, rafting, and more.
HOW TO REACH
Rishikesh is well connected by motorable roads with the major destinations of Uttarakhand and the northern states of India. Luxury and normal Buses to Rishikesh are easily available from Delhi ISBT Kashmiri Gate and Meerut. Buses and Taxis to Rishikesh are available from major destinations of Uttarakhand like Dehradun, Haridwar, Srinagar, Tehri, Uttarkashi, etc. Rishikesh is situated on National Highway 58 which connects Badrinath.
Rishikesh is well connected by a railway network with major destinations of India. Trains are frequent to Rishikesh Railway Station. Taxis and buses are easily available from Rishikesh to Muni-ki-Reti and Swargashram.
Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest airport to Rishikesh at a distance of 21 km. Taxis are easily available from Jolly Grant Airport to Rishikesh. Jolly Grant Airport is well connected to Delhi with daily flights. Rishikesh is well connected by motorable roads with Jolly Grant Airport.
NOTE:- if you have any other queries you can visit the gov official website of Uttarakhand Tourism.
Some FAQs Related To Rishikesh
What is Rishikesh known for?
Rishikesh is famous, not only in India but around the world, as the yoga capital of the world.
The place with its numerous ancient ashrams and yoga studios has put not only yoga but ancient Indian Vedic studies, Ayurveda, astrology, etc. on the world map.
Besides, due to its location near the Ganges, it is also known for the range of adventure activities that it offers like rafting, kayaking, cliff jumping, etc.
Is Rishikesh safe at night?
Yes, absolutely! This religious and spiritual place is perfectly safe. Since it is visited by thousands of foreign nationals each year, the security arrangements are top-notch. There is ample police presence and all the public places have CCTV cameras installed.