Rishikesh, located on the banks of river Ganga amidst dense forests and hills is virtually a land of saints, sages and scholars. Rishikesh is the gateway to the most important Hindu pilgrimage circuit in the Garhwal Himalayas, the Char Dham - Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Apart from being renowned for its yoga centres and ashrams, it is also very famous for adventure sports.
It is believed that meditation at this place brings one closer to attainment of 'moksha' (salvation), as does a dip in the holy River Ganga. Being a pilgrimage center there are many temples and ashrams here. Some of the prominent ones are Bharat mandir, Swarga Ashram, Geeta Bhawan. Rishikesh is important not only as pilgrimage centre, but also as home for many important centers of Hindu religious thought and spirituality.
THINGS TO DO:
-White Water River Rafting
It is in Rishikesh that Ganga leaves the himalayas and enters the great north indian plains, one can experience the wildest grade V Rapids to the mildest Grade I Rapids on the River Ganga here. From families with kids to dare devils, Rishikesh has a rafting stretch for all. Also, try Cliff Jumping, Jump into the freezing river Ganga from a cliff,
you will be wearing a life jacket and a helmet but jumping from so high is very daring.
-Ganga Aarti at Parmarth
The famous Ganga Aarti conducted by Parmarth Niketan, one of the few ashrams left in India where kids are taught vedas. Parmarth Niketan is headed by Swami Chidanand Saraswati. The Aarti takes place at 6 PM in summers and 5 PM in winters.
One got to experience camping in Rishikesh,in the laps of nature staying in tents is an experience of a lifetime. Great if the camp has sanitary washroom facilities. Camp Wildex, Rishikesh has its very own rock face for adventure activities like Rock Climbing/ Rappelling and the stream that passes through the camp is ideal for River crossing. There is also a hidden waterfall a mile away from the campsite.
PLACES TO VISIT:
It is said that Lakshman crossed Ganga on jute ropes between the place where this bridge is built. The iron suspension bridge was built in 1939.
Said to be the oldest temple in Rishikesh and regarded as one of the most ancient shrines in India, was founded by Adiguru Shankaracharya in the 12th century.
The famous Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharta are described through beautiful wall paintings.
PLACES TO EAT IN RISHIKESH:
Apart from these there are numerous other restaurants across Laxman Jhula alongside river Ganga which specialize in various cuisines, the street is a paradise for foodies.
PLACES TO EXPLORE:
-Waterfall and the Limestone Caves
Just 1.5 Kms from Camp Wildex, hidden in the Rajaji National Park is
a beautiful waterfall and limestone caves. It is a very adventurous trek into the jungle, alongside a small stream.
This Cave is one hour drive from Rishikesh, a very famous saint Vashishtha meditated on the banks of the Ganges here. The cave is very peaceful and is a perfect place for meditation.
EXCURSIONS AVAILABLE FROM RISHIKESH:
-Kunjapuri Temple (1 Day)
Located at an altitude of 1645 Mts. and just a 2 hours drive away from Rishikesh, one can get amazing views of greater himalayan peaks from here, e.g- Banderpunch (6316 Mts), Swarga Rohini (6252 Mts), Gangotri (6672 mts), Chaukhamba (7138 mts) etc. Sunset and sunrise views from this place are astonishing; Also, bird watchers and nature lovers can trek down to Rishikesh from here.
-Chandrashila Summit (4 Days)
A perfect tour that includes visit to Tungnath(highest Hindu shrine devoted to Lord Shiva), a small village Sari and numerous hamlets, it becames even more adventurous as one camps next to lake 'Deoriatal' and treks to Chandrashila Summit to have the breathtaking views of the Himalayas.
-Chardham Yatra (12 Days)
Rishikesh is the getway to the four most revered Hindu pilgrimage destinations - Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. Nestled in the lap of majestic Himalayas, these four sites are the epicenter of religious activity in north India. Pilgrims from all around the world brave the severe conditions of landscape and weather to visit the shrines and have a holy darshan of the revered deities.