Situated in the state of Uttarakhand on the banks of India’s most sacred river –the Ganges, Rishikesh is one of the most spiritual towns in the country. Home to several temples, ashrams, yoga and meditation training centres, bathing ghats, and deep green valley, the place is the starting point for the Rishikesh yatra. The word Rishikesh owes its origin to the Sanskrit word Hrishikesh which means lord of the senses. Tradition has it that Lord Rama did penance here to kill Ravana, the demon king of Lanka.
Gateway to the Himalayas, Rishikesh, also known as the "Yoga capital of the world", stands at an elevation of 372 m (1,220 ft). International Yoga Week is held during February-March in Rishikesh to promote the science of Yoga. Today Rishikesh has also become a hot-spot for adventure activities which make it a world-class destination.
The iconic suspension bridge across the river Ganga was built in 1939. From the bridge visitors offer puffed rice to the fish that are clearly visible from the bridge due to the clean waters of the Ganges. Lakshman Jhoola stands at a point where Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Rama, is said to have crossed the river Ganges. The scenic beauty of the surroundings, clean air, gentle sound of the river and the bells of the temples go on to create a divine feel. Located near the 450 feet long Lakshman Jhula is the beautiful 13 storey Kailash Niketan temple. Ram Jhula, another suspension bridge, has been built in later times and connects Swargashram on the west and Shivanand Ashram on the east bank.
Triveni Ghat is a famous Ghat (step at the water's edge) on the Ganges in Rishikesh. People take a holy dip in the river.
Founded by spiritual guru Swami Shivanand, Shivanand Ashram (The Divine Life Society) http://sivanandaonline.org) offers yoga and meditation courses. The lectures on spiritualism are imparted here. Yoga Niketan Ashram is another important ashram offering Yoga classes, The Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram (www.anandprakashashram.com) and the Parmarth Ashram ( www.parmarth.com) are other popular ashrams in Rishikesh.
Rishikesh offers some of the most exciting adventure pursuits. They range from white water-rafting to parasailing, zorbing, ballooning, canoeing and white water-rafting. Best seasons for river rafting are March to July and September to December because the Ganges is neither too wild nor too placid during these months.
12 km from Rishikesh is located the shrine of Neelkanth Mahadev which is nestled on top of a hill at an altitude of 1,675 m across the Ganga river.
24 km from Rishikesh is located the sacred city of Haridwar which lies on the banks of river Ganga which enters the plains for the first time here. One of the saptapuris, or the seven sacred cities of India that grant moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death, Haridwar hosts the Kumbh Mela, the largest congregation of humanity anywhere in the world, every 12 years. Legend has it that Haridwar, also called Hardwar, was one of the four sites where a drop of Amrita (nectar) from the Kumbh (pot), carried by Vishnu, fell. It is therefore one of the four venues where the Kumbh Mela. Allahabad (Prayag), Nasik and Ujjain are the other three.
In addition to being a major pilgrimage centre, today Haridwar (Dwar of Hari or “Gateway to God”) is a fast developing city. Har-Ki-Pauri, Bharat Mata Mandir, Mansa Devi temple, Chandi Devi, Maya Devi Temple and Bhimgoda Tank are the important places of attration in Haridwar.
38 km from Rishikesh, Kaudiyala is nestled amongst the dense forests at an elevation of 480 m above sea level. Situated on the Rishikesh-Badrinath route, the place is a famous centre for adventure and water sports. The mighty waters of the River Ganga here are perfect for adventure and water sports particularly white water rafting. This is also an ideal place for rock climbing. river rafting courses are also imparted at Kaudiyala which also offers good opportunity to the visitors to spot wildlife in its natural habitat.
47 km away from Rishikesh, Dehradun is the provisional capital of Uttarakhand. Located at the foothills of the scenic Shivalik hills, Dehradun is the right place to escape the heat and humidity of the plains.
Dehradun is home to an array of tourist attractions like Tapkeshwar temple, Sahastradhara Forest Research Institute, Botanical Survey of India Indian Military Academy IMA, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, Zoological Survey of India Wildlife Institute of India, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Instrument Research and Development Establishment (IRDE) and National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH).
Dehradun is home to a large number of luxury hotels, budget hotels. Eateries and cafes line the streets of Dehradun.
70 km from Rishikesh, Deoprayag is located on the confluence of the rivers Bhagirathi and Alakananda and an important pilgrim centre. This sacred place is home to Shiva and Ragunath temples.
104 km from Rishikesh, Srinagar (Garhwal) is famous for Kamleshwar and Kalpaveshwar temples and the Shankar Math. Srinagar was once the seat of power of the Garhwal rulers.
76 km from Rishikesh, the famous hill station of Mussoorie is home to fine specimens of British colonial architecture. Mussoorie, the Queen of Hills, brims with old bungalows lurking down quiet lanes and the Mall, the main promenade in the town retains the ambience that captivated the British who retreated here to escape the heat of the crowded plains. Founded in 1823 by the British, Mussoorie is known for fantastic flower-filled walks.
Kunja Puri Temple (25 km), Vashishta Gufa Ashram (25 km), Pushkar Temple and Bhootnath Temple are other famous excursion sites from Rishikesh.
How to Reach Rishikesh by Air: The nearest airport to Rishikesh is Jolly Grant at Dehradun which is 17 km away. However, Delhi, 224 km from Rishikesh, is more convenient
How to Reach Rishikesh By Rail: Rishikesh is connected by a branch rail line with Haridwar which in turn is well connected with major cities in and towns in India
How to Reach Rishikesh By Road: Rishikesh is well connected by road with different places in India. Some of the cities and places connected with Rishikesh by road are Haridwar (24 km), Dehradun (40 km) , Chamba (Uttrakhand) (63 km), Deoprayag (70 km), Mussoorie (77 km), Srinagar (Garhwal) (105 km), Yamunotri (222 km), Delhi (224 km), Kedarnath (234 km), Gangotri (249 km), Joshimath (252 km) and Badrinath (300 km).
Hotel Ganga Kinare, Green Hotel, Inderlok Hotel, Baseraa The Hotel, Hotel Ganga View, Hotel Surya, Hotel Gaensha Inn, Hotel Hariyali View, Hotel Natraj, Great Ganga Hotel, Hemkund Basera, Jaipur Inn, Hotel Akash Ganga and Hotel Ashoka are some of the famous hotels in Rishikesh.