Lying in the foothills of Himalayas, Rishikesh, a small town in the Dehradun district of Indian State of Uttarakhand is the place of numerous ghats, temples and saints. Rishikesh is the Sanskrit name for Lord Vishnu that means ‘the Lord of Senses’.
Besides being an ideal place for all those who wish to further themselves on the path of spirituality, meditation and religion. Besides being the starting point for the Char Dham holy Yatra of Hindus, this place is also perfect for those who are looking out for some adventure or spending some time in nature’s lap. Another interesting thing about Rishikesh is that it is a vegetarian and alcohol-free city by law.
Major Attractions in Rishikesh
- Lakshman Jhula – Situated at a distance of about 3 km from the main city area of Rishikesh, this famous 450 feet long bridge hanging over the river Ganga at a height of 70 feet is named as Lakshman Jhula after the brother of Lord Rama. A vast market and numerous temples and ghats have developed around Lakshman Jhula which is also a connecting bridge between rest of the city and Geeta Bhawan.
- Neelkanth Mahadev Temple – Dedicated to Lord Shiva who is also known as Neelkanth Mahadev meaning the one with a blue throat, the temple is situated at a distance of about 30km from Rishikesh in Pauri Garhwal District of Uttarakhand India. The temple witnesses confluence of Pankaja and Madhumati Rivers, and is surrounded by dense forests and valleys of Manikoot, Vishnukoot and Brahmakoot.
- Rajaji National Park – Enveloping the Shivalik range of mountains and spread over an area of 820 sq. km. encompassing three districts of Uttarakhand- Haridwar, Pauri Garhwal and Dehradun, the Rajaji National Park is a Tiger Reserve and National Park. The park is a house to varied species of fauna including Barking Deer, Leopard, Tiger, Monkey, Antelopes, Sambar Deer, Nilgai and Goral. An amazing tourist spot, the wildlife sanctuary also preserves more than 400 species of birds.
- Triveni Ghat – The most important ghat of Rishikesh, this place is a confluence of three rivers considered to be the most holy by Hindus- Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. This is also a sacred spot for those who wish to take a holy dip in the Ganges. The major attraction of this place is the daily evening Ganga Aarti offered to the holy river Ganga after sunset.
- River Rafting and trekking – River Rafting on the clear and holy waters of river Ganga is an incredible experience in itself. In recent times, Rishikesh has gained a lot of importance amongst travelers for offering amazing rafting and trekking expeditions. Other adventurous activities being offered by Rishikesh include Bungee Jumping, Hiking, Giant Swing, Rock Climbing, Cliff Jumping etc. which has given Rishikesh the name of adventure capital of India.
Other places of tourist interest in and around Rishikesh are –
- Ram Jhula
- Jumping Heights
- Sivananda Ashram
- The Beatles Ashram
- Neer Garh Falls
- Swarg Ashram
- Tera Manzil Temple
- Parmarth Niketan Ashram
- Omkarananda Ashram and a lot more.
Best Time to visit
Rishikesh is a destination which can be visited at any time during the year. The weather here is pleasant all through the year. From the month of March until June is the time of summer season here. The month of June can especially be quite hot during the daytime, however, nights are pleasant. From July to September, Rishikesh experiences average rainfall but with the rise in the water level, rafting remains closed. From October begins the season of winters which is slightly chilling and travelers need to carry lots of woolens if they plan to visit Rishikesh at this time. This is also the idea time for river rafting.
Festivals and Fairs
Renowned as the Yoga Capital of the World, Rishikesh hosts a week long International Yoga Festival every year in the month of March. People from all over the world throng to Rishikesh to attend this festival organized by Parmarth Niketan Ashram and Tourism Department of Uttaranchal.
How to Reach
By Air – The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun having a distance of about 35km from Rishikesh.
By Train – Rishikesh railway station 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 as Haridwar is serviced by many trains from to Delhi, Varanasi, Rajasthan, Amritsar, etc. and continue by bus (45 min), by taxi (30 mins or by shared auto-rickshaw (40 min). Travelling by train comes recommended because they often run empty and the fares are low & run right-time especially in peak seasons or “Melas” (Fares) when bus routes are diverted in Haridwar & share rickshaws try to make a killing. You can take “Vikrams” towards Lakshman Jhula from Rishikesh station.
By 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. Taxis are widely available anywhere in India. The drive from/to Delhi lasts around 5 to 6 hours, depending on traffic conditions.