Rishikesh is a holy city on the banks of the River Ganges. This holy city, a part of Dehradun district is called the Devbhoomi and is considered as the doorway to the Himalayas. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, this place in Northern India attracts huge number of tourists and pilgrims from all parts of the country to offer their prayers at this holy site.
History of Rishikesh
Ancient history suggests the presence of Rishikesh in the legendary “Kedarkhand” region. In mythological scriptures Lord Rama meditated and practiced penance at this place after he executed Ravana. Lord Rama’s younger brother, Laxmana, crossed the Ganga from here due to which the popular Laxman Jhula was constructed.
Originally, Laxman Jhula was built from jute rope. This rope bridge was quite unsafe and was replaced with a stronger iron- rope bridge in 1889. Due to floods in 1924 the bridge was damaged and finally replaced with a stronger suspension bridge.
Things to do in Rishikesh
Rishikesh offers several tourist attractions right from religious locations to thrilling adventure sport activities. Religious places include Gita Bhawan, Nilkanth Mahadev, Triveni Ghat and Swarga Ashram. A walk on the Laxman Jhula is a major activity.
Rishikesh embodies many popular yoga and meditation centres. There are private universities, which have short-term yoga courses that attract international tourists and visitors. Rishikesh is sometimes also referred to as the World Capital of Yoga, as it is a perfect place to learn and study yoga, meditation and other spiritual practices.
Adventure sports and trekking also lure tourists to Rishikesh from all parts of the country. White water rafting is the main adventure sport that is popular amongst water sports. River crossing is yet another challenging sport in which the individual is supposed to cross the river sliding on a single rope just above the heavy water currents of River Ganga. There are many Rishikesh holiday packages specifically targeted towards providing such services to tourists.
Other surrounding districts are Tehri Garhwal and Pauri Garhwal, whose governing agencies have brought a ban on the use of plastic bags and selling of alcohol in the city, thus making it an alcohol free district. Another holy city, Haridwar is just 25 km away, which is also located on the Ganges.
Food & Shopping in Rishikesh
Food in Rishikesh is a vegetarian’s delight. Non-vegetarian is banned in the pilgrim town. However, it hasn’t affected Rishikesh tourism as the town boasts of cafes and restaurants that serve health food as well as traditional Indian delicacies like samosas, chaats among other street foods and meals. As for shopping, apart from souvenirs and religious artifacts, Rishikesh does not have much to offer.
Travelling to Rishikesh
Rishikesh can be reached by air, rail and road. The nearest airport to the destination is Jolly Grant Airport, which is around 18 km away, in Dehradun. Delhi Airport is the nearest international airport. Taxis are available from both the airports to reach Rishikesh.
Rishikesh has its own railway station and is well connected to the rest of the country, especially to the northern part. Trains are available frequently from Delhi, Dehradun, Mumbai and other cities. By bus, the destination can be reached from nearby places like Haridwar, Dehradun, Pauri etc. Buses are run by the state as well as private operators.
Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh has a pleasant climate throughout the year. Those interested in activities like white water rafting can visit from September to April.
Accommodation options in Rishikesh
Pilgrims and adventure seekers alike have many hotel options in Rishikesh. This includes budget hotels, tents and camps popular among backpackers as well as guesthouses and lodges preferred by groups.