A hub for spirituality, yoga, pilgrimage and peace of mind, Rishikesh is the epitome for people seeking their inner self and meeting the high energy they believe in. Rishikesh has so many jewels to its crown that it makes for one of the most sought after destination for every kind of traveler. An ancient healing place with hills and rivers, it’s the abode of God for a spiritual traveller. But it’s not only the spirituality of this holy place which attracts travellers, Rishikesh is now the adventure hub of India. It has got everything from White-Water Rafting to Bungee Jumping and more. So if you are a backpacker and adventurer then this Ultimate Rishikesh Guide is your bible.
Quick facts about Rishikesh
- Rishikesh falls in the Garhwal District of Dehradun
- Rishikesh is at the base of the much revered Shivalik foothills of the Himalayas
- Rishikesh got its shot of fame globally after ‘The Beatles’ visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in February 1968. The Ashram now is famously known as ‘The Beatles Ashram’
- John Legend from ‘The Beatles’ even recorded a song named ‘The Happy Rishikesh Song’
- Rishikesh takes pride in being ‘Yoga Capital of the World’
- Since Satyug, the yug where divinity resided on earth, Rishikesh has been the abode of sages
Reasons to visit Rishikesh
The Ultimate Adventure Hub of India
Rishikesh is rightly the hub for adventure activities like Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking, Bungee Jumping, Giant Swing and many other crazy activities. These adventure sports all have their base in Rishikesh. You can find these in plenty and you can opt for any activity easily.
Plan your Rishikesh Adventure Rush Here
Rishikesh: The Yoga Capital of the World
It is believed that if you meditate and practice yoga in Rishikesh, you get more closer to divinity. This has attracted many people from all over the world, who come here trying to find the meaning of life by dwelling themselves into yoga. There are many ashrams in Rishikesh which offer courses for the various genres of yoga. You can enroll yourself for any short term course to get an experience.
Culture and Spirituality
Rishikesh is the most beautiful place where you get to know a lot about the Indian culture and spirituality, especially the Indian mythology which has deep roots in Rishikesh. From the legend of Ram doing penance here for killing Ravana, to Shiva appearing in the Hrishikesh avatar, giving the name to this place, Rishikesh is a heritage place for culture and spirituality.
Laxman Jhula in Rishikesh is believed to be the spot where Laxman crossed the river Ganga on a jute rope bridge. The bridge today is made of iron and is way stronger than the jute one.
Temples and Ghats
There are many temples which you will find along the banks of river Ganga and also on the Ghats. These temples expose you to the history of this place but there is one enchanting thing which you should not miss when in Rishikesh, and that is the Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghats in the evenings every single day. The pomposity and the grandness of it, with sun setting in the background and the temple bells ringing in unison with the chants, just mesmerizes you. When the aarti starts it transports you into a different world altogether. The floating diyas on the river just give it an enchanting feeling.
Feel the vibe of the Beatles Ashram
The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram , now famous as the Beatles Ashram is nestled in a very beautiful spot in the Rajaji National Park in Rishikesh. The ashram gained popularity on a global level when The Beatles visited and stayed here in 1968. It is said that the time when The Beatles resided in the ashram was their most productive time in their career. It is said that many songs from the ‘White Album’ were written during this stay.
The ashram has an eerie foregone vibe to it and it’s a mecca for Beatles fans. The meditation hall and the graffiti paintings are sure to take you on a flashback tour of how it must have been with The Beatles there.
This visit brought the power of yoga on the forefront and also changed the image of Indian culture in the western world. Since then Rishikesh has become a hub for yoga and meditation worldwide. All these years the Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh was off limits and in ruins but now it has been officially recognised as an eco tourism spot by the government.
Cafes and Restaurants
Yes it’s true that Rishikesh is all about holy places and stuff but you are wrong if you thinks it’s only just that! The place also has immense amount of cafes and restaurants which give it a charming feel. The cafes overlook the Ganges and have a nice menu of international food. You can try The Little Buddha Cafe which is a tree house style cafe, Devraj Coffee Corner which is a bakery , and also Rasta Cafe and Bakery. One place you should definitely try for lip smacking Indian food is the Chotiwala Restaurant. It was opened in 1958 and is one of the oldest restaurants in Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is a holy city so alcohol and non-veg is prohibited here by law.
Graffiti Arts all Over the City
The best of Graffiti you will find is in the Beatles Ashram but this way of art is persistent all over the city. Rishikesh feels alive with these colorful way of street art. The theme revolves around spirituality and freedom of art. It’s a different side to Rishikesh which will entice you to explore the place more.
The three markets of Rishikesh, namely, The Laxman Jhula Market, Ram Jhula Market and the Rishikesh main market are where you can go on a shopping spree. From clothes to quirky jewellery to gems and stones you get everything which is perfect to take back as a souvenir. The Rishikesh main market has stuff at cheaper rates as compared to the Laxman Jhula Market which is a little expensive.
Things to do in Rishikesh
Rafting in Rishikesh
Rafting is the most adrenaline rushing activity you can ever do and it is best done right here in Rishikesh. This is one of the most famous sport in Rishikesh. Rishikesh has multiple points from where you can raft. One such point is Shivpuri. Rafting in Shivpuri is done from September – June as the river is perfect for a beginner as well as an experienced rafter.
Rafting is also done in Devprayag which is just 2 hours away from Rishikesh. Instructional courses for those who want to professionally learn rafting are also done here in Rishikesh.
Do not worry about the Raft toppling over as all safety precautions are taken by the operators so you are in safe hands.
Bungee Jumping and Rope Swing in Rishikesh
If you are up to experience the thrill and are crazy enough to free fall from a cliff, then Bungee Jumping in Rishikesh is what you should do for sure.
This rad activity at Mohan Chatti is just what you can boast about to your friends after doing it. 😉
Mohan Chatti is just 13 kms from Laxman Jhula. You can easily get local transport to reach here.
Not to forget the giant rope swing which is like an addition to your Bungee experience. In Bungee Jumping you are harnessed on your legs while in a Giant Swing your harness is on your upper body. In a Giant swing, after the jump the fixed wired ropes make you swing! Yes literally! You are then lowered to ground level and thus your experience is complete.
Camping in Rishikesh
Camping in Rishikesh is doable only in the Jungles. Other than the operators no fixed infrastructure by other people or travellers is allowed on the river banks. There are many operators which offer you camping in affordable rates with a host of adventure activities which come included in the package. Experience mother nature at her best while you camp on the river side and the foot hills.
Trekking in Rishikesh
There are many trekking options available in Rishikesh. Rishikesh also acts as a base for many treks towards the Himalayas. One very famous trek people venture on is the Kunjapuri Temple trek where you also have a chance to camping. The temple is 26 km away from Rishikesh. You can also do treks to waterfalls. There are waterfalls treks like Neer Gaddu waterfall trekking, Garud Chatti waterfall trekking, Phool Chatti waterfall trekking etc. Now who would not want to trek and then see a waterfall as a reward?
Zip lining in Rishikesh
Now the brave heart in you experienced Bungee Jumping and Giant Swing , yet yearns for more? Then add Zip Lining to the list. Cross the river in Shivpuri on a strapped Zip Lining. Also called as flying fox, just enjoy the mind boggling views of Rishikesh under you.
Kayaking in Rishikesh
Kayaking in Rishikesh is another adventure which you should definitely try. Sitting in the kayak and kayaking in the picturesque scenery is sheer bliss when you are an experienced kayaker. Yes you need to learn Kayaking to Kayak in Rishikesh as the rapids are not suitable for an amatuer. You can opt for Instructional courses which are offered in Rishikesh and learn how to Kayak.
The Ganges in Rishikesh is the hub for Kayaking competitions. The Ganga Kayak festival sees many competitors from around the world competing here.
Rappelling in Rishikesh
Rappelling is descending a cliff with the help of a rope.Yes it’s technical but beginners can easily do it as you are harnessed safely. This one activity requires strength and grit and if you are lucky enough then you might get a chance to rappel down a waterfall too.
Places to see in Rishikesh
Bigger than Laxman Jhula, Ram jhula is an iron suspension bridge which gives you a panoramic view of Rishikesh. The bridge was built in 1968 and is a gateway to Shivananda Ashram, Beatles Ashram and many more. It is situated in Muni ki Reti in Tehri Garhwal District.
Neelkantha Mahadev Temple
This temple is considered as one of the most important of shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in India. It is believed that this is the exact spot where Shiva drank the poison which was churned out from the ocean by the Devas and the Asuras to obtain the Amrita.
The Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh is famous for it yoga courses and also meditation halls and techniques. Worth a visit to get away from the hustle and bustle of the place.
Neer Garh Waterfall
This is one beautiful waterfall just 9kms off Laxman Jhula. A small trek will take you to the cliff and you can take a dip in the cool water of the falls.
How to Reach Rishikesh
The Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is just 35kms away from Rishikesh. Regular taxi and bus service is available from the airport to Rishikesh.
Rishikesh station itself is the closes but there are just 3 slow trains daily. Instead you can take a train to Haridwar and then continue in a bus or taxi from there.
There is regular connectivity of buses to Rishikesh from New Delhi, 230 kms, Haridwar, 24 kms and Dehradun, 43 kms.
If you love backpacking and are game for exploring outdoors as a traveler then Rishikesh is the perfect place where you get a chance at everything from beaches to mountains to national parks to yoga, spirituality and what not! The list goes on and on.