Rishikesh, the ‘place of sages’ is a celebrated spiritual town on the bank of Ganga and is surrounded by Shivalik range of the Himalayas on three sides. It is said that when Raibhya Rishi did hard penances, God appeared by the name of ” Hrishikesh ” and this area hence firth came to be known as Rishikesh.
It is the starting point for the Char Dham Pilgrimage of the Hindus in which pilgrims go to Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath to seek spiritual salvation. On the way to the Garhwal Himalayas and the Sikh shrine at Hemkund Sahib one passes Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is an ideal destination not only for pilgrims but also for those who want to delve deeper into meditation, Yoga and other aspects of Hinduism. The spiritual haven of the various ashrams is on the eastern side of the Ganga, at Swargashram (on the other bank is the noisy business centre). The ashrams provide lectures and courses to suit everyone’s need and quench their thirst for knowledge for fooding and lodging at a reasonable cost.
For the adventurous visitors, Rishikesh is the place for starting their trekking expeditions and excursions towards the Himalayan peaks, 10km upstream at Shivpuri is the site for river running, rafting activities, on the roaring white water of Ganga, from October to May. The International Yoga week, which attracts participation from all across the world, is held here every year from 2nd to 7th Feb on the bank of Ganga river.
General Information :
Population : 44,500 (1991 cences)
Area : 11.20 sq. km.
Altitude : 356 mts above sea level
Season : Throughout the year.
Language : Hindi, Garhwali & English
Clothing : Summer – Light Cotton; Winter – Woolen
Air : The nearest airport is Jolly Grant which is 18km. from Rishikesh on way to Dehradun. At present chartered planes operate.
Rail : Even though there is a branch line between Haridwar & Rishikeshand a shuttle train operating but the faster and swifter mode of transport to Rishikesh is by road from road from Haridwar (22km) or Dehradun (42km). Booking can be made at railway station.
Road : Rishikesh is connected by road with most places of North India.
SIGHT SEEING & EXCURSION :
Triveni Ghat : A sacred bathing spot on the bank of the river Ganga where devotees take holy dips and offer prayers. Devotees bathe here with the belief that the water has the power to purify them. Triveni Ghat is also called because it is believed to be the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the legendary Saraswati river. It is an interesting place to be at dawn when people make offerings of milk to the river and feed the fish. After sunset, as a part of the Aarti ceremony, lamps are floated on the water and provide a spectacular view.
Lakshman Jhoola : A suspension bridge across Ganga situated 5kms.from Rishikesh, on the way to Badrinath. It was built in 1929 to replace a rope bridge. It is believed that Ram’s brother Lakshman crossed the river here on a jute rope. On the west bank, there is a Lakshman temple also. This area is quieter than the town centre and is very picturesque. Along the river on the north east are secluded beaches.
Ram Jhoola : A suspension bridge between the Shivanand Ashram and the Swargashram. It provides an alternative to a boat ride from one bank of Ganga to another . Its construction is similar to that of the Lakshman Jhoola.
Bharat Mandir : The Bharat Mandir is the oldest temple in Rishikesh, near the Triveni Ghat. This temple is dedicated to Bharat, the younger brother of Lord Ram.
Shivananda Ashram (The Divine Society) : Founded by Swami Shivanand, This well known spiritual centre is renowned for its lectures on spiritual life. Meditation and Yoga classes can be attended in the morning and evenings. A person can stay here for short term study and for longer three – month courses, one must write at least a month in advance.
Narendranagar : 16 kms away from Muni-ki-Reti at an altitude of 1,129 mts. lies this capital of the former king of Garhwal. Until a few years ago it was the headquarter of the District Tehri Garhwal, but now the New Tehri Town is the headquarter. Here, the palace of the Tehri Raja (Ananda – In The Himalayas), is situated amidst o forest. Situated on the main Rishikesh-Gangotri-Yamunotri route Narendra Nagar offers a fine view of the Ganga and the beautiful Doon Valley.
Kaudiala : It is 37 Kms. from Rishikesh on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway at an altitude of 389 mts. Here, the mighty water of Ganga is ideal for white water rafting. Skylark Journeys conducts river rafting courses at Kaudiyala. Skylark Journeys provide rafts, river side camping items and trained guides who make the sport a pleasure. Safety precautions are also stressed on. There is ample opportunity to view wildlife in its natural habitat.
Haridwar (22kms): Haridwar, lying at the feet of Shiva’s hills, i.e., Shivaliks, in the Hardwar district of Uttaranchal Pradesh, is a doorway. Suryavanshi prince Bhagirath performed penance here to salvage the souls of his ancestors who had perished due to the curse of sage Kapila. The penance was answered and the river Ganga trickled forth form Lord Shiva’s locks and its bountiful water revived the sixty thousand sons of king Sagara. In the traditional of Bhagirath, devout Hindus stand in the sacred waters here, praying for salvation of their departed elder. It is doorway to the sources of the Ganga and the Yamuna, 3000 to 4500 meters up into the snowy ranges of the central Himalayas. The ‘Aarti’ worship of the Ganga after sunset and the floating ‘dia’ (lamp) is a moving ritual.
Mussoorie (80kms) : Mussoorie is a fascinating Hill Resort commanding a wonderful view of the extensive Himalayan range and at night the gilliering views of Doon Valley. It is pleasant in summer (April to June) and clouding in (July to Aug.) and cool and serene in autumn (Sept. to Nov.) and winter months of Dec. to Feb. is severely bitty cold a time of snow fall, Mussoorie is called “Queen Of Hills” today it is one of the most popular summer destination in the northern hills.