There is a reason that Rishikesh tops our list of top 25 top spiritual desntiantions in India. It is extremely well accessible, it has excellent diversity and it is one of the places from where you have many other prominent spiritual destinations easily accessible like Haridwar, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri to name a few. Rishikesh travel guide is our endeavor to help you know the place better.
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Rishikesh is a small town in the northern state of Uttarakhand in India and is located in the foothills of Himalayas. Scenically located where the Ganges River comes down from the Himalayas and spreads through the plains of North India. Rishikesh gained a lot of Western fame when the Beatles dropped by for a visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram (now closed).
Rishikesh is the World Capital of Yoga. It is also the Gateway to the Himalayas. The Char Dham Yatra (Four Shrines Sacred Journey) ideally begins from Rishikesh.
In September 2015, government of India made an announcement that Rishikesh and Haridwar will the first in India to be given the title of “twin national heritage cities”. Because of religious significance of the place, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly prohibited in Rishikesh.
History and Significance – Rishikesh Travel Guide
Legends from Ramayana the epic of India, states that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the asura king of Lanka; and Lakshmana, his younger brother. He crosses the river Ganges, at a point, where the present ‘Lakshman Jhula’ bridge stands today, using a jute rope bridge.
The ‘Kedarkhand’ of Skanda Purana, also mentions the existence of Indrakund at this very point. The jute-rope bridge was replaced by iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889. After it was washed away in the 1924 floods, it was replaced by the present stronger bridge. Another similar suspension bridge called Ram Jhula was built in 1986 at a close proximity by Sivananda Nagar.
The Ganga or Ganges river is extremely sacred to Hindus and flows through Rishikesh. From Rishikesh it leaves the Shivalik Hills in the Himalayas and branches out in the plains of northern India.
Several temples, ancient and new, are along the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh. Shatrughna Mandir, Bharat Mandir, Lakshman Mandir are the ancient temples established by Adi Shankaracharya. Shatrughna Temple is near Ram Jhula and Lakshman Mandir is near Lakshman Jhula.
Places to Visit in Rishikesh-Rishikesh Travel Guide
Most pilgrims passing through Rishikesh en route to the Himalayan shrines of the Char Dham pause for a dip and puja at Triveni Ghat, at the southern end of Ghat Road, near the centre of town. The river looks especially divine during evening aarti, when diya lights (₹5–10) float on the water.
It is the oldest temple of Rishikesh and Bharat Mandir features a black stone image of Lord Vishnu. People believe that it is constructed by the great ninth-century Hindu revivalist Shankara; the event is commemorated during Basant Panchami, the first day of spring. A sacred trio of entangled trees near the entrance represents the Hindu Trinity.
The dense-knit complex of cafés, shops and ashrams collectively known as Swarg Ashram, opposite Shivananda Ashram, leans back on to the forest-covered hills where caves are still inhabited by sadhus. The most conspicuous of the area’s many ashram-temples is Parmarth Niketan, whose large courtyard is crammed with brightly clad gods and goddesses. Next door is Gita Bhavan, which runs a free Ayurvedic dispensary (daily 8am–noon & 2–8pm); they also sell books, saris and khadi handloom cloth. The river can be crossed at this point either by the Ram Jhula footbridge or the nearby ferry (₹10).
1km south of Swarg Ashram • Daily 9am–4pm • ₹600 (₹150)
Set on a forested bluff high bluff above the river, the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is also known as the Beatles’ Ashram, for it was here that the band and its entourage came to learn Transcendental Meditation from the enterprising guru, staying for up to six weeks (Ringo only lasted ten days, McCartney a month) in 1968 and penning over forty songs. Fringed by Rajaji National Park, the tranquil, ruined site was kept under lock and key by the Forest Department until 2015. Locally, the ashram is known as Chaurasi Kutiya and is worth seeing for its curious ovoid meditation huts, clad with smooth river pebbles. The ashram’s meditation hall has been transformed into The Beatles Cathedral Gallery, with murals and graffiti.
Most travelers find Lakshman Jhula, a pair of lively settlements straddling the footbridge of the same name, to be the most appealing part of Rishikesh. The east bank is also linked by a 2km path from Swarg Ashram that skirts the river, passing beautiful sandy beaches sheltered by large boulders.
Most striking on the east bank is the enormous, gaudy, thirteen-storey Kailash Niketan Temple, just north of the bridge. The dramatic landscape and turquoise river(brown during the monsoon) are best appreciated from the Devraj Coffee Corner on the west side. Lakshman Jhula is also the most famous destination in this Rishikesh Travel Guide
How to reach
- Through air: Jolly Grant Airport (15 km) in Dehradun is the nearest airport. Taxis are available from the airport to Rishikesh.
- By rail: Rishikesh as a well connected railway station
- By road: Buses ply regularly between Delhi to Rishikesh and Deharadun to Rishikesh.
Best time to visit: Rishikesh is hot in summers. However it is always a cool breeze near Ganga. Recommended time to visit is August to March
Things to do: Rishikesh is famous for Yoga Ashrams, adventure sports, river rafting and and various spiritual hubs. Ram and Lakshaman Jhula and various temples are other major attractions.
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