Rishikesh

Rishikesh is a city and a municipal board in the Dehradun district in Uttarakhand. It is a famous holy city of pilgrimage for the Hindus. Rishikesh is also known as the gateway to the Himalayas. It is located about 25 kms. from Haridwar, which is another holy city. Rishikesh is also the starting point for traveling to the Char Dham pilgrimage, namely; Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.

Rishikesh derives its name from 'Hrsikesa', which is a name of Vishnu. It means the Lord of Senses. It is a holy city located in the foothills of the Himalayas. The place gets its name from Lord Vishnu, who appeared to Raibhya Rishi as a result of the tapasya, as Lord Hrishikesh. The River Ganga also flows through Rishikesh. It is at Rishikesh that the Ganga leaves the mountain ranges in Shivalik and flows onto the plains in northern India.

One can also find many ancient as well as new temples along the banks of the River Ganga. Every year, thousands of pilgrims and tourists visit the holy city of Rishikesh, from India as well as abroad. It has also got many Yoga centres, because of which it is also known as the world capital of Yoga. It is a strong belief that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to attaining moksha, as does a holy dip in the holy River Ganga that flows through it. Not only for pilgrimage, it has also become a famous place for river rafting, as it offers medium to rough rapids in the river Ganga.

The 120 year old Kalas Ashram Brahmavidyapeetham which is an institution dedicated to preserve and promote the traditional Vedantic Studies, is also located at Rishikesh. Famous personalities like Swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Shivananda have all studied here. Rishikesh is also famous as during the mid 1960s, the pop band 'Beatles' visited the place and even recorded a song here, which was titled 'The Happy Rishikesh Song'. This place has been of interest to many celebrities, including Hollywood star Kate Winslet.

Tourist Attractions

Rishikesh, India sightseeing includes visiting the places in and around Rishikesh. Following are the tourist attractions of Rishikesh.

Lakshman Jhula: Lakshman Jhula is a beautiful sight which is located about 7 kms. north of Rishikesh. Till 1889, there was just a hanging rope bridge across the river Ganga (without pillar). But it was later rebuilt with iron ropes in the year 1939. The main attraction of Lakshman Jhula is the temple of Raghunathji.

Lakshman is said to have visited this place and is also believed to have done self-mortification to wash his sins for killing a Brahmin. The Lakshman Jhula connects Rishikesh with Tapovan across the River Ganga where a temple is dedicated to Lakshman.

Triveni Ghat: Triveni Ghat is located about 1.6 kms. from Rishikesh. It is the place where three streams of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati are believed to be flowing together, underground. Triveni Ghat is a sacred place where Pinda Shradhha is performed. Pinda Shraddha is a ritual where food is offered to the departed soul. During the evening, prayer of Goddess Ganga is also performed here.

Swarga Ashram: It is located about 8 kms. from Rishikesh and is a very quiet place on the left bank of the River Ganga. It is located just opposite to Shri Shivananda Ashram. This place can be reached either by crossing Ganga by a boat or by the Ram Shivanand suspension bridge that is built across the river Ganga. The temple has an idol of Shri Badrinath Ji.

The temple is surrounded by forests all around. Those who visit Swarga Ashram must also pay a visit to the Badrinath temple. Swarga Ashram does not only contain temples, it is a pretty well established township which has restaurants, shopping centres, parks, libraries, etc. as well.

Gita Bhawan: Gita Bhawan is located about 8 kms. from Rishikesh. It was constructed by the Geeta Bhawan Trust, Gorakhpur, in the year 1944. It is situated just close to Swarga Ashram complex. The temple itself and all the other buildings that surround it have Gita and Ramayana inscribed on its walls. It is taken care of by a body of trustees, who are affiliated to the Gita Press, Gorakhpur.

Baba Kali Kamliwala Panchayati Kshetra: This is one of the oldest institutions, and was founded by Shri Baba Vishuddha Nanda Ji. The main office of the Panchayat is located at Rishikesh with its branches at all the major pilgrim centres in Garhwal district. There are rooms available here for overnight stay.

Shri Sivananda Ashram and Divine Life Society: The Sivananda Ashram and Divine Life Society is located about 2.5 kms from the main bus stand at Rishikesh. It was founded in the year 1936 by Shri Swami Sivananda Ji Maharah. The members of the Society believe in one religion and have vowed to help people in distress.

Muni ki Reti: It is a famous trekking place from where lots of trekking starts. According to mythology, Rama and Lakshman bathed at the well that is located here to wash off their sins of killing Ravana, who was a Brahmin.

Places to see Near Rishikesh

Rishikesh excursions consist of some of the finest places near the city. Excursions around Rishikesh, Uttarakhand are a must see for those visiting the city. Some of the famous places to visit around Rishikesh are:

Narendra Nagar: Narendra Nagar is a hill station that is located about 15kms. from the holy city of Rishikesh. It was the capital of the former state of Tehri. Many palaces of the former Maharaja Narendra Shah are also located here, at Narendra Nagar. There is an attractive place, called Kaunjpura that is located here. It provides a beautiful and panoramic view of the Himalayas around it.

Chamba: Situated at a distance of 62 kms. from Rishikesh, Chamba provides a much needed respite from the heat of the plains. On a clear day, one can clearly see the Himalayan peak Bandarpoochh. Fruits like apples and apricots are grown here aplenty. There is also a tourist bungalow located here, which can be used by the visitors for overnight stay.

Garur Chatti: Garur Chatti is located about 8kms. from Laxman Jhula, in Rishikesh. There is a temple located here which is dedicated to Lord Garur Maharaj.

Bhoothnath Cave: Another important excursion situated 3 kms. from the Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh, is the Bhoothnath cave. It is an attractive place for the pilgrims, the tourists as well as the adventure seekers.

Neel Kanth Mahadev: Neel Kanth Mahadev temple is situated about 1,675 metres above sea level. This temple is dedicated to Neelkanth Mahadev (Lord Shiva). It is located about 22 kms. from the Lakshman Jhula, in Rishikesh. Mythology has it that Lord Shiva had consumed poison which was produced after Sagar manthan. As a result, his throat had turned blue and thus this place came to be known as Neelkanth Mahadev.

The view from the temple is just breathtaking. It provides an all round view of the Himalayan ranges, the Bhabar forests and the plains below as well. This place is mostly visited by pilgrims in the month of July/ August.
Must Visit Lakshman Jhula, Triveni Ghat, Swarga Ashram, Gita Bhawan, Baba Kali Kamliwala Pachyati Kshetra, Shri Sivananda Ashram and Diving Life Society
Climate Hot during the summers and cold during winters
Ideal Time April to June/ September to October
Languages Hindi, Garhwali, English
Festival Yoga Festival
Rishikesh STD Code 0135

Shopping

Shopping in the holy city of Rishikesh can be quiet a pleasant experience. Rishikesh falls in the region of Shekhwati, which is known the world over as the Open Air Art Gallery. One can find many beautiful wooden paintings in the various shops in Rishikesh.

The tourists can also choose to buy carved and decorated chests, chairs, cradles and low lying tables and stools. Antique furnitures are also available in Rishikesh as well.

Apart from all the items mentioned above, there are many other objects, art, as well as die fabric are popular among tourists, visiting Rishikesh. Although there aren't any shopping malls present here, one can find many private shopping outlets and Government run emporiums for shopping, though.

Rishikesh Weather

The climate of Rishikesh is usually pleasant except in the winters when it becomes very cold. During the summers, there are days when the temperature does reach more than 30 degrees.

During the summers, the temperatures hover between the 18 and 32 degree Celsius mark while in the winter the temperature can go as low as 10 degree Celsius. Monsoon season is between June and September, during which time Rishikesh receives average rainfall.

How to Reach Rishikesh

There are several ways to reach Rishikesh, from some of the major cities of India.

By Air: The nearest airport is Jolly Grant that is located at Dehradun. From there, one can easily take a local taxi or bus for Rishikesh.

By Rail: Rishikesh is connected with Haridwar by rail and Haridwar in turn is connected by long distance trains to Delhi, Bombay, Kolkata, Ujjain, Gorkhapur and Amritsar.

By Road: Rishikesh is connected by road and regular bus service with Agra (392 kms), Dehra Dun (43 kms), Delhi (238 kms), Haridwar (24 kms), Mussoorie (78 kms), Badrinath (298 kms), Kedamath (223 kms), Yamnotri (222 kms), Gangotri (235 kms), Chandigarh (252 kms) and Uttarkashi (154 kms).
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