Rishikesh is a town located in the Dehradun District of Uttarakhand, India. Nestled at 409 meters above sea level, it lies in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayan Range and is surrounded by the Shivalik range. The town offers a spectacular view of jungle-clad hills and is where the River Ganges meets the Chandrabhaga river.
Historically, Rishikesh has been a magnet for many yogis, rishis, sages, and sannyasis, drawn to its serenity for yoga practice. This has earned it the title of the “Yoga Capital of the World.” Every March, Rishikesh hosts a week-long International Yoga Festival. The city is also a gateway to the Char Dham, which consists of four popular holy temples on the hills: Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.
Rishikesh is not just a spiritual hub; it’s also a center for adventure activities. It’s renowned for white water rafting and is often referred to as the white water rafting capital of India. Additionally, the city offers opportunities for camping, trekking, and bungee jumping.
Two significant suspension bridges, Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula, connect different parts of the city. These bridges have deep-rooted historical and mythological significance. The city is divided into various parts, including Rishikesh, Ram Jhula (Shivanand Nagar), Muni Ki Reti, Lakshman Jhula, Tapovan, Swarg Ashram, Pashulok Barrage, Dhalwala, 14 Bigha, and Shisham Jhari.
In the evenings, the Ganges Ceremony (Ganga Aarti) is a sight to behold. It’s organized at Parmarth Niketan and Triveni Ghat, where priests perform rituals accompanied by Vedic hymns, clapping, and drumming. This ceremony attracts hundreds, including international visitors.
Historically, the region was known as Kedarkhand. Legends state that Lord Vishnu appeared to Raibhya Rishi under a mango tree here, leading to the naming of the place as “Hrishikesh,” meaning the god of senses. The city also finds mention in the Ramayana, where Lord Ram and his brother Lakshman crossed the river Ganges. The Beatles’ visit in the 1960s to study yoga further popularized Rishikesh on the global map.
Attractions in Rishikesh
- Triveni Ghat: A significant bathing ghat in Rishikesh, believed to be the confluence of three rivers: Ganges, Yamuna, and the legendary Saraswati.
- Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula: Historic suspension bridges with shops and temples surrounding them.
- Neelkanth Mahadev Temple: A temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located at a height of 1325 meters.
- Sivananda Ashram: Also known as the Divine Life Society, it’s a hub for yoga and meditation.
- Bharat Mandir: One of the oldest temples in Rishikesh, dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
- Gita Bhawan: An ashram with lessons from the Bhagavad Gita inscribed on its walls.
- Swarg Ashram: A serene area known for its ashrams and spiritual ambiance.
- Tera Manzil Temple: A 13-floor temple offering panoramic views of the city.
- Beatles Ashram: An ashram visited by the Beatles in the 1960s.
Climate in Rishikesh
Spring (March to April): Transitioning from cooler winter to warmer summer, temperatures range from 12°C to 33°C. Rainfall is minimal, making it a pleasant time for visitors.
Summer (May to June): Rishikesh experiences a heatwave with temperatures peaking at 36°C. The onset of monsoon brings increased humidity.
Autumn (October to November): Temperatures range from 10°C to 30°C with minimal rainfall, marking a transition from the wet monsoon to the cooler winter.
Winter (December to February): Refreshing and cool, temperatures vary from 6°C to 21°C with minimal rainfall.
The best time to visit is between October and April, offering temperate weather ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the city.
Traveling to Rishikesh
Rishikesh is well-connected by road, rail, and air. The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, approximately 35 km away. From the airport, taxis and buses are available to Rishikesh. The town also has a railway station with good connectivity. For road travel, buses and taxis from major cities like Delhi are frequently available.
For International Travelers
Currency: The official currency is the Indian Rupee (INR). It’s advisable to carry some cash for local transactions.
Language: Hindi and English are widely spoken.
Health: Ensure you’re updated on routine vaccines. Drinking bottled water is recommended.
Connectivity: Mobile networks and internet services are readily available. Indian mobile SIM cards can be availed at New Delhi airport itself, however please ensure that your SIM card is activated before you leave the airport. Else, SIM cards for international travellers are also available at many shops in Rishikesh.
Clothing: Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites.
- Always keep your belongings secure.
- Avoid isolated areas after dark.
- Respect local customs and traditions.
- Keep your passport in a safe location at all times.