A spiritual paradise, famously known as the “Yoga Capital of the World”, Rishikesh is the quintessential place for yoga and meditation. Regardless of your love for yoga or need for balancing your “chakras”, Rishikesh is a must-stop city in an Indian adventure.
Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, rightfully known as the “Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas”, the city offers plenty of riveting anecdotes to satisfy every adventure seeker. Read on to know all about this celestial abode and the best places to visit in Rishikesh.
The Ganga – Heart of The City
It would be a crime to talk about Rishikesh without mentioning the Ganga river whose essence ties the city together. With the flow of a moody musician’s marvelous melody, the Ganga river is known to be a holy shrine for Hindus. Dipping in its waters is believed to wipe away your sins, the locals being ever so faithful in its healing prowess, ancient wisdom, and pure essence.
When you are in its flow, the river has an uncanny ability to make you feel one with it. A gentle breeze from the river brings in the tranquility that Hindu devotees, Yogis, Western Hippies, spiritual dilettantes, and curious minds come in search of. The amazing rapids of the river make it the ideal place for great adventures such as river rafting, Kayaking, and much more.
A Spiritually Guided Divine Intervention
For Yoga, Rishikesh is the perfect place for you if –
- You are an experienced yogi wanting to try your hand at teaching and training.
- You are a newbie, wanting to explore the roots of spirituality directly from its source.
- You want to experience an authentic Indian ashram.
- You are a lost soul in search of answers about the mysteries of universal life and are seeking a new perspective on everything.
- You simply want a rejuvenating break from the everyday hustle and never-ending stress.
India is the birthplace of Yoga, and Rishikesh, one half of the “Twin Heritage Cities” of India, offers some of the best Yoga retreats in the world.
The Beatles’ visit to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram, in the 1960s, essentially put Rishikesh on the map. Now, the ashram is known as the “Beatles Ashram”, in honor of the world-famous band. They reportedly wrote around 30 songs during their visit. The ruins of the ashram stand to this day if you wish to explore it.
You can get the best Ayurvedic massage, chakra healing therapy, and visit the top meditation retreats as well as ashrams in Rishikesh. The Parmath Niketan is one of the top ashrams in India and the biggest in the area with 1000 rooms on an eight-acre campus. Be sure to pay a visit to another notable ashram, the Divine Life Society, a spiritual organization established by Swami Vivekananda, the great Hindu philosopher.
A trip to India wouldn’t be complete without witnessing a one-of-a-kind religious extravaganza, and this city does not disappoint. The Ganga Arti at Triveni Ghat is a marvel to look at, and bliss to experience. The beautiful ghat is an excellent place to explore the local religious traditions.
Lakshman Jhula- The Tourist Magnet
One of the most popular hanging bridges across the holy Ganga, the Lakshman Jhula is an important link between the villages, Tapovan and Jonk. According to Hindu mythological legend, Lord Ram and his brother Lakshman had crossed Ganga near the area of Lakshman Jhula if not right where the bridge was built. It is one of the most photographed places in the city, making it one of the essential places to visit in Rishikesh, India.
1. Tera Manzil Temple
Also known as the Trayambakeshwar Temple, it is one of the most beloved tourist attractions of the city, courtesy of its wondrous architecture and picturesque surroundings. The thirteen-storied construction is located opposite the Lakshman Jhula, at the banks of the Ganga River.
2. Geeta Bhawan
Geeta Bhawan is a vast complex, known across the world as one of the most significant centers of Hindu mythology preservation. If you want to rekindle your connection with your soul and take a step forward in your soul journey, this is a divine place for peaceful meditation.
3. Prakriti Vedic Spa
Indulge in an exotic Vedic treatment at Prakriti Vedic Spa and allow your body to rejuvenate in blissful relaxation. This amazing place is a tourist favorite as the worries of everyday life are brushed off at its doorstep with massages that soothe you to your bones.
4. Neelkantha Mahadeva Temple
The Neelkantha Mahadeva Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the penultimate Hindu deity trio. Neelkanth, which translates to “blue throat”, is a name bestowed upon the Great God Shiva.
According to religious scriptures, a poison or ‘Halahal’ came out of the ocean which was so toxic, it could have destroyed all of creation. Lord Shiva swallowed the poison which terrified the Gods and Demons alike and therefore, came to be known as “Neelkanth”. As per the significance, Ganga water is poured on the shrines by visitors.
5. Ram Jhula
At walking distance from the Lakshman Jhula, the Ram Jhula is another popular suspended bridge where you can find a lot of shops with trinkets and spiritual books.
Local Food and Restaurants
1. Little Buddha’s Cafe
One of the busiest joints of Rishikesh, the large cafe offers multiple cuisines with a beautiful view of the Ganga. With some of the best food, it’s a common favorite.
2. Beatles Café
This café is the perfect way to end your Beatles India journey after visiting the Beatles Ashram. The specialties-to-try include lasagne and burgers with charming 60s and 70s music playing all day long.
3. Freedom Café
Undisturbed view of river Ganga, soul-stirring music, and a plethora of food choices make you fall in love with this eatery instantly. The soft as clouds pancakes and heavenly cold coffee is a must-try.
4. Madras Café
The café transports you to South Indian food heaven and is the perfect place for a wholesome family lunch. Also popular amongst backpackers, the best dishes here include the Rava Dosa, Mushroom Curry, Himalayan Pilau Rice, and Filter coffee.
Some of the other amazing places to dine at are Bistro Nirvana, Royal Café, Pure Soul, Pumpernickel Bakery, and Ramana’s Organic Garden Cafe.
For the Adventure Seekers
The turbulent waves of the Ganga river make River Rafting a popular favorite amongst the numerous adventure activities in Rishikesh. This is a beyond fun way to experience the beauty of nature and the stunning city. Full of exciting rapids, you can choose your preferred level of difficulty between grades 1 and 5.
If you fancy other thrilling activities, there is a gamut of options to choose from including Bungee Jumping, Kayaking, Rappelling, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Camping, Trekking, and more.
Visit India’s Version of Utopia
The best time to visit Rishikesh is around March-April, especially if you want to attend the International Yoga Festival held every year, in March, and between September and October. Due to the heavy rainfall, it’s best to avoid Rishikesh from July to August as well as the hot and humid weather.
While visiting, Shiv Shakti Guesthouse and Sonu Guesthouse are some of the best options for backpackers with comfortable rooms, friendly staff, and pleasant amenities including beautiful rooftops.
Aloha on the Ganges and Neemrana’s Glasshouse on the Ganges are the best luxury and heritage hotels in Rishikesh which offer outdoor pools, a wellness center, yoga classes, nature walks with spacious rooms, and a scenic view of the Ganga. The latter is a heritage hotel next to the Ganga with a garden and game room while offering you a serene setting just outside of Rishikesh.