Rishikesh, popularly known as the “Yoga Capital of the World”, is a spiritual town in the Dehradun district of Uttarakhand. It is the gateway to the famous Char Dham pilgrimage that covers the holy sites of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. From the ancient time, it has been serving as the abode of so many sages and yogis who practice yoga and meditation in this sacred land. It is believed that those who do meditation in Rishikesh will attain liberation (Moksha) from the infinite cycle of birth and death. There are several Ashrams, Yoga & Meditation Centers, and holy pilgrimage spots in Rishikesh. One week long International Yoga festival is held here every year in the month of March. Other than spirituality, Rishikesh is also popular for several adventure activities like rafting, trekking, bungee jumping, etc. Dehradun Jolly Grant airport is just 25 km away and Haridwar railway station at 35 km from Rishikesh. Rishikesh is well connected by road to New Delhi, Haridwar, Dehradun and other major cities in India.
Among several destinations, some of the most popular places to visit in Rishikesh are highlighted below.
Triveni Ghat: A confluence of three holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, it is the most sacred and the biggest bathing ghat in Rishikesh. Thousands of people bathe here in the morning and evening to wash away their sins.
Ram Jhula: It is a suspension bridge between Sivananda Ashram and Swarg Ashram. Several shops are available on both sides of the bridge.
Lakshman Jhula: This suspension bridge is one of the popular landmarks of Rishikesh. There are several shops on both sides and the Lakshman Temple and Tera Manzil Temple are also located here.
Parmarth Niketan: Ganga Aarti is performed at the sacred ghat of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in every evening. International Yoga Festival is organized in this Ashram every year.
Sivananda Ashram: Also known as Divine Life Society, this ashram was established by Swami Sivananda.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple: It is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, famous for Shivaratri festival and Kanwar Mela.
Bharat Mandir: This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is regarded as one of the oldest temples in Rishikesh.
Swarg Ashram: It is a beautiful place located between Rishikesh and Lakshman Jhula, famous for several ashrams and healthy living environment.
Tera Manzil Temple: Also known as Trayambakeshwa temple, it has 13 floors with several small temples with different deities in each floor. Amazing panoramic views can be enjoyed from the top of the temple.
Vashista Goofa: It is a cave on the banks of River Ganges, were Sage Vashista was believed to be meditated.
Other places to visit in Rishikesh include Iscon Temple, Rishikund, Bhootnath Temple, Astha Path, Swarga Niwas Temple, and many more.
There are several shops and markets in Rishikesh, which offer a variety of items like handicrafts, clothes, jewelry, pearls, bronze statues, incense, etc., at reasonable prices. Ram Jhula Market, Lakshman Jhula Market, and Rishikesh Main Market are the popular shopping centers. One can also purchase quality items from the U.P. Handloom Shop, Khadi Bhandar, Gharwal Wool and Craft Shop, and many other places.
Restaurants in Rishikesh serve large varieties of food including the traditional Indian cuisine, North Indian and South Indian style, Chinese, Italian, Middle East, and American cuisine. Being a holy city, non-vegetarian food is not allowed here. Ramana’s Garden, Honey Hut, Beatles Café, Little Budha Café, Ganga View Restaurant, Ayurpak, Madras Café, etc., are some good restaurants.
Rishikesh is basically a spiritual city and hence one should not expect any clubs or pubs here. One can spend evening in cafes, watch a movie in Rama Palace, enjoy the beautiful views of Ganga, do some shopping, or watch the colorful rituals and festivals of the Yoga city.
There are so many Yoga centers and pilgrimage centers in Rishikesh to fulfill the spiritual quest of tourists. Adventurous enthusiasts can involve in varieties of activities including White water rafting in Ganga, rock climbing, rappelling, camping, trekking, kayaking, cliff jumping, Bungee jumping, etc. Ganga aarti at Triveni Ghat and Parmarth Niketan is a beautiful ceremony to watch in the evening.