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Holy Destinations of India

Rishikesh

Rishikesh is a small town in the northern state of Uttarakhand in India. 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 is also the Gateway to the Himalayas. The Char Dham Yatra (Four Shrines Sacred Journey) ideally begins from Rishikesh.

Rishikesh is one of the best located pilgrimage centers along the right bank of   the Ganga. The holy river emerging from high mountains not far from here, runs deep and silent through the thickly wooded hills of the Tehri that straddle this region. A breathtaking experience of natural beauty and undiscovered wildlife await here. Not to mention the peace and tranquility of  a landscape associated with 'munis' and meditation. Today Rishikesh has become a center for learning and research in yoga and meditation- the renowned Indian methods for mental and physical health. The week-long International Yoga festival which attracts participation from all across the world is held here annually in the month of  February on the banks of serene Ganga.
 

History of Rishikesh

Legend has it that the sage Raibhya Rishi did severe penance and, as a reward, God appeared to him in the form of Hrishikesh. Rishikesh also represents the site where Lord Vishnu vanquished the demon Madhu. The place is known as the Tapo Bhumi or the place for meditation of the Gods. Tapovan, on the other bank of the Ganges, houses a temple to Lakshmana. It is believed that Lakshmana, the younger brother of Lord Rama, carried out penances here. The Neelkanth Mahadev temple is believed to be the site where Lord Shiva had drunk the venom that came out during the churning of the ocean. In the 1960s, the place came into limelight as the place where the pop group Beatles met their guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
 

General Information :-

Area: 11.20 sq km. Population: 29,145 (1981 census). Altitude: 356 m.

Temperature: Summer 18.3 to 32.2 C and Winter 14.4 to 29 C.

Rainfall: 1,524 mm (average) June to September.

Best season to visit : April to June or September to October.

Clothing: Summer-Cotton and Winter -Heavy Woollens.

Language spoken: Hindi, Garhwali and English.

Click Here for Tourist Map of Rishikesh

 

Major Attractions of Rishikesh

Trayambakeshwar Temple, Lakshman Jhula, is 13 stories high, with different deities throughout.

Antibiotics Project at Virbhadra : 6.4 km. Permission to visit antibiotics plant is to be obtained from the General Manager, Antibiotics Plant, Virbhadra, Rishikesh.

Laxman Jhoola : It is a beautiful sight about 7 km north of Rishikesh. There was a hanging just rope bridge across river Ganga (without pillar) till 1889 which was rebuilt with iron ropes in 1939. The suspension bridge has a span of 140. Raghunathji's temple is the main attraction at Laxman Jhoola. Laxman is said to have visited this place and is believed to have done penance to wash his sins for having killed a Brahmin. The suspension bridge connects Rishikesh with Tapovan across river Ganga where a temple is dedicated to Laxman.

Triveni Ghat: 1.6 km. A bathing Ghat, where three streams of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati are believed to be flowing together underground. This is a sacred place where 'Pinda Shradha' is performed or food is offered to the departed soul. Evening Aarti (prayer) of goddess Ganga is also performed here.

Swarga Ashram: 8 km. It is a quiet place on the left bank of the Ganges opposite to Shri Shivananda Ashram. Swarg Ashram can be reached either by crossing Ganga by boat or by another Ram/Shivanand suspension bridge since built across river Ganga. An idol of Shri Badrinath Ji is enshrined in the temple which is surrounded by forest. Pilgrims visiting Badrinath temple also pay their visit to Swarga Ashram. The temple and Dharamshala is maintained by Kali Kamliwala Kshetra enroute. In fact Swarga Ashram is a self-contained township with restaurants, shopping centres alongwith temple, parks, libraries, meditation centres and Ay.urvedic dispensaries.

Gita Bhawan : 8 km. Constructed by Geeta Bhawan Trust Gorakhpur in 1944 adjacent to Swarga Ashram complex. The temple and group of buildings have Gita and Ramayana inscribed on its walls. The Bhawan is controlled by a body of trustees, who are affiliated to the Gita Press, Gorakhpur. The mission of the trust is to serve the society through normal and spiritual education.

Baba Kali Kamliwala Panchayati Kshetra : It is one of the oldest institutions, founded by Shri Baba Vishuddha Nanda Ji and now run by a Trust. The main office of the institution is at Rishikesh and it has branches at all the pilgrim centres in Garhwal hills. They provide lodging and boarding facilities to the pilgrims all along the route even at the higher altitude of the Himalayas upto Kailash.

Shri Sivananda Ashram and Divine Life Society: 2.5 km from Rishikesh Bus stand on Rishikesh-Laxman Jhoola Road. This Ashram was established in 1936 by Shri Swami Sivananda Ji Maharaj, the renowned Yogi of India. A hospital is run here and experienced doctors attend the sick tree of charge. Arrangements of food and bedding for sick and ailing are made tree. In the serene atmosphere of the Ashram a large number of saints and devotees are leading holy lives and practicing Yoga here. The members of the Society believe in one religion and have vowed to help people in distress.

Ashram and Yoga Centres: Yoga Niketan Laxman Thoola, Yoga Sadan Ashram Rishikesh, Shri Vithala Ashram and Transcendental Meditation Centres of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Shankaracharya Nagar, Ved Niketan and Yoga study centre.

Temples: Raghunath temple, Bharat temple, Pushkar temple, Shatrughan temple, Laxman temple, Sheshdhara, Rishikund and Bhagirath temple

Narendra Nagar: The hill station of Narendra Nagar is 15 kms trom the foothill town of Rishikesh in Tehri district on the way to the holy shrines of Gangotri and Yamnotri. Narendra nagar was the capital of former Tehri State and the palaces of the former Maharaja Narendra Shah are located here. The offices of Tehri district are also located here. Kunjpura is an attractive place on top of a hillock near Narendra Nagar which provides beautiful panoramic view of the Himalayas.

Chamba : 62 kms trom Rishikesh. While staying in Rishikesh, visitors can go upto Chamba which is very pleasant during summer months. Chamba provides an impressive view of the Himalayan peak Bandarpoochh on a clear day. A tTuit belt has since been developed in Chamba and apples and apricots are grown here in plenty A tourist bungalow is available for spending a night. More about Chamba

Garur Chatti : 8 kms trom Laxman Jhoola. A temple is here which is dedicated to Lord Garur Maharaj.

Bhootnath Cave: 3 kms trom Laxman Thoola. An attractive place both for pilgrims and tourists as well as adventurers.

Neel Kanth Mahadev : 1675 m. This temple is dedicated to Neelkanth Mahadev (Lord Shiva) which is about 22 kms from Laxman Jhoola. According to mythology, Lord Shiva had consumed the effluent poison produced after Sagar manthan which had turned his throat blue and thus this place came to be known as Neelkanth Mahadev or Shiva with Blue throat. While going upto Neelkanth Mahadev one can have a wide spread view of Himalayan peaks, Bhabar forests and plains below. Pilgrims mostly come here during the month of July/August.

 

Do in Rishikesh (Sports and Adventure)

  • Take a holy dip in the Ganges, with reputed healing powers.

  • Yoga, of course! It's on offer everywhere, and most styles are represented.

  • Check into an ashram to study yoga, meditation and Hindu philosophy.

  • Ashtanga Yoga at Tattvaa Yogashala Swargashram Near Ram Jhula Bridge.

  • Watch a beautiful evening Ganga Arti at Parmarth Niketan

  • Watch where you step, cows and their leftovers are abundant. Watch out for the sometimes brash food stealing monkeys, too.

  • White Water Rafting Rishikesh is very popular for its rafting on the River Ganga (Ganges). Season: September-November and March-April-May are ideal for rafting. Imagine freezing water trying to push you off the boat like a bull does to a cowboy. Yes it sounds crazy but once you do it, you can't get enough of it. Nothing can beat the experience of this short trip to Rishikesh. You get to be with nature and the elements!! People do it for various reasons and surely you will find yours by the end of it.

  • Rappelling Climbing down with a rope is called rappelling. The group is taken to a spot where there is a cliff drop, experts with proper equipment who setup the gear first and then, one by one, everyone comes down. It's all about trusting your gear and following the instructions and then it's a lot of fun.

  • Rock climbing This is something everyone is fimiliar with, this is also included in some of the camps but not everyone can do it as it requires a lot of strength and skill. The group is take to a cliff side and with proper safety gear everyone is given a chance to climb the cliff side.

  • Cliff Jumping You are supposed to jump into freezing water from a cliff! Yes, it sounds crazy but this is one thing which everyone can brag about back home, of course you are wearing a life jacket and a helmet but still to jump from so high into the Ganga which is murky and the bottom can't be seen, it's not like jumping into a swimming pool where one can see the bottom the water is static.

  • Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving across water. Kayaking is differentiated from canoeing by the fact that a kayak has a closed cockpit and a canoe has an open cockpit. They also use a two bladed paddle. Another major difference is in the way the paddler sits in the boat. Kayakers sit in a seat on the bottom of the boat with their legs extended out in front of them. Canoeists will either sit on an elevated bench seat or kneel directly on the bottom of the boat. Whitewater kayaking is the sport of paddling a kayak on a moving body of water, typically a whitewater river. Whitewater kayaking can range from simple, carefree gently moving water, to demanding, dangerous whitewater.

  • Trekking There are a lot of soft treks in this region, this is an optional thing as some people love to walk in nature and do a bit of bird watching and some prefer to be at the camp and relax and they are already tired with the activities they have done.

  • "Eat" the famous Chotiwali Special / Janata or Delux Thali . Once upon a time it used to be an unlimited affair but now due to practical constraints the quantity is limited and extra helpings are charged . But if you crave for good and simple typical Indian home Food , this is the place to be

  • Mukeshji's Jungle Vibes, Shisham Jhari,Rishikesh. Have the once in a life time experience of making the Australian Didgeridoos, african Djmbes and other musical instruemnts in the guidance of iconic Mukeshji while he enthralls you with his hillarious stories and takes you along with him in his Himalayan Journies.  

  • Ram Jhula

Photo Gallery of Rishikesh

Rishikesh Laxhman Jhula


Accessibility / How to reach
:-

Air        :
 

The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Bhaniawala, Dehradun, 41 km. Deccan Airlines services from Delhi. Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi (220 km)

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 (45 min, Rs 17), by taxi (30 mins, Rs 500) or by shared auto-rickshaw (Rs 20, 30 min).

Travel agents in Swarg Ashram and Lakshman Jhula can book train tickets for onward journeys, much easier than going to Rishikesh railway station to buy a ticket. Some may sell you a ticket from Raiwala, a small stop between Rishikesh and Haridwar, but this station, while closer, is tiny and trains only stop for a few seconds - better to board the train in Haridwar.

From Delhi there are many trains to Haridwar, some of the best are: Shatabadi Express, Jan Shatabdi, AC Special Express, Mussoorie Express.

Road   :

From Delhi the city is about 230 km away and is well connected with buses. A Bus journey may take about 5-7 hours - depending on the traffic - and costs you about Rs 130-350. An AC Bus will cost about Rs 200-500.

In Rishikesh, there are several travel agencies scattered around Swarg Ashram and Lakshman Jhula that can book luxury buses to common destinations like Delhi (Rs 250-500), Jaipur, Pushkar and Varanasi

Local Transport Services  :

Auto-rickshaws (vikrams) are useful from the bus/train stations to get to either of the bridges (Rs 8) and for the southern side of the Ganges. Swargashram is pretty much pedestrian only, but it's compact and walkable (as is the whole of the town). For other autorickshaw journeys you should expect to pay around Rs 15/km

Places to Eat

Ram Jhula

  • Mukti's Health Food, (a few hundred metres west of Shivanand Jhula bridge, overlooking the taxi stand/parking lot). A tiny place in a strange location, but very popular and excellent food. Famous green pasta, Indonesian gado-gado, and homemade frozen yogurt, apple pie or chocolate cake for dessert.
  • The Welcome Center (about a 10-15 minute walk towards Haridwar from the Shivanand Jhula bridge), (0) 135 244 2337, thewelcomecentre@yahoo.com. Hidden down off the road (but signposted), this is a little oasis of calm from the busy street. Great Ayurvedic food and teas. They also offer cooking classes, several types of yoga, etc. and sell natural incense, netty pots, yoga mats and the like. If you like the atmosphere, enquire about staying here as well.

Swarg Ashram

  • Shiva-resort, a nice place away from the bustling market of Ram Jhula towards Neelkanth road is a good place to have organic food.
  • Chotiwala in Swarg Ashram claims to be the original, and serves great Indian food including 5 different thalis. Meals Rs 40-80.
  • Ganga Ayurvedic Food Place, (out beyond most of the ashrams, just past VED Niketan ashram). Delicious food, lovingly prepared. Clean. Also great for breakfast.

Accommodation in Rishikesh

Rishikesh is filled almost entirely with budget hotels, with a few mid-range thrown in for good measure. Lakshman Jhula is popular with backpackers and has the cheapest accommodation, while Swarg Ashram is where the majority of the ashrams are located, and is a nice alternative. There's also a handful of accommodation options in High Bank.

It's wise to book ahead in the peak tourist season, and during the Kumbh Mela in neighboring Haridwar

Budget Hotels in this range start as low as Rs 100.

  • Ananda Guesthouse, Swargashram, (next to Krishna Cottage). Friendly owner. Rs 150-200.

  • Shiva Resort - Swargasharm. Near taxi-stand Ram Jhula. Nice and open rooms with balconies and garden starting from Rs 250-999. Also offers yoga lessons in morning (7:00am to 8:30am ) & evening (5:30pm to 7:00pm) and in house pool and internet cafe and ayurvedic treatments and panchkarma centre.

  • Lucky Hotel, Lakshman Jhula. Rs.300.00-Rs.1299.00.

  • Hotel Ishan, Lakshman Jhula. Decent rooms with Ganga views and balconies. From Rs 200.

  • Green Hotel, Swarg Ashram, 243 1242. Is a large, popular place with a good restaurant. Rs 100-1000.

  • Jaipur Inn, Laxman Jhula. Nice rooms, some with a view and a good restaurant on the top floor that overlooks both the Laxman Jhula and the Ganges River. Single Rs. 900 - Double Rs. 1000

Many ashrams also offer cheap lodging.

  • Rishikesh Yog-peeth the complete yoga study and retreat. Conduct yoga teacher training courses and ayurvedic treatment centre . See Shiva Resort above.

  • Nirmal Ashram, Mayakund, (Very close to Triveni Ghat).

  • Sivananda Ashram, Ram Jhula, (on the north side of the Shivanand Jhula bridge).

  • Mount Valley Mama Cottage, High Bank, The friendliest hostess in Rishikesh, Mama, will make you feel right at home with her wholesome breakfasts and scrumptious thali. Nice Ganga views and the best shower in india. Great rates that cater to the backpacker's bank account.

  • Patanjali Yoga Center, Ram Jhula Taxi Stand, (the best place to study Iyengar Yoga with all modern equipments and a modern yoga studio) Rooms Rs. 100-above.

  • Sri Ved Niketan Ashram, Swarg Ashram. A large place offering hatha yoga, meditation, etc. Rooms Rs 50-150.

  • Yoga Niketan Guest Houese, Near Ram Jhula. On the river, private Ghat, Guests can avail of meditation,yoga classes in their main Ashram above- a five minute uphill walk. Clean and rooms on Ground and First Floors have private sit out with exceptional view of the Ganga. Basic Veg meals available on request or at Ashram Rs.200/- per day. Non Ac Rs.500: AC Rs.990/-

  • Sant Seva Ashram, Laxman Jhula, +91-135-2430-465. Budget rooms on the banks with a great view from Rs 250-700. Long stays allowed. Booking can be done only 1 or 2 days in advance. Homely restaurant attached.

Mid-range

There are two Government Tourist Lodges.Their rates range from INR 600 to 2000.

  • Bharat Bhumi in the town.

  • Sisham Jhari on the banks of the Ganges.this is the best option.

Online booking of both these tourist resorts can be done at 

  • Hotel Ganga View, Haridwar Road. 15m away from the riverbank. INR 1950-2350.

  • Tapovan Resort, Lakshman Jhula,  A newer hotel with good rooms and a garden. Also has a decent restaurant. INR 1650-1850.

Splurge

  • Hotel Ganga Kinare, 237 Virbhadra Road, + 91 114 622 3300 (). On the right bank of the Ganga, with a private ghat, this upscale hotel overlooks the picturesque Rajaji National Park. A couple of rolling lawns host morning yoga sessions and spiritual lectures. Various heads of states and celebrities have stayed here. 3 restaurants on site. Rs 3000-6000.  

Stay safe

A holy city it may be, but Rishikesh draws more than its fair share of criminals and conmen. Don't walk around alone at night and beware of the motives of sadhus offering one-on-one tutoring.

 

Information Centre for Haridwar

Regional Tourist Office, Haridwar, Uttaranchal, India.
Tel.: +(91)-133-4227370.

Tourist Bureau, Laltarao Bridge, Haridwar, Uttaranchal, India.
Tel.: +(91)-133-4424240.

Tourist Information Centre, Railway Station, Haridwar, Uttaranchal, India.
Tel.: +(91)-133-4227817.

       

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