Rishikesh – the cradle of spirituality and peace
Rishikesh may be known as the land of temples, pilgrims, yoga, meditation, and hippies, but more than anything else, it is the enticing Ganga that defines the town. This holy river makes the town far more serene than its chaotic lanes, sadhus, hippies, backpackers, and spiritual tourists would otherwise have let it. Rishikesh is an eclectic blend of pilgrimage, adventure, and nature.
Nestled peacefully in the laps of lower Himalayas and on both sides of the sacred river Ganga, it’s believed that meditation here leads to salvation. This beautiful town has been a magnet for spiritual seekers, adventurers, and adrenaline seekers. Despite the huge number of travellers, the town’s lanes and alleys retain an old-world charm, and it remains a wonderful place to relax and unwind among nature.
This town has its own hustle-bustle complete flowers and fruits vendors in almost every lane. The sight of surrounding forested hills, the sound of temple bells ringing along with the evening Ganga aarti takes you to a heavenly world whose feeling can rarely be experienced.
Added to all these, the chance of trying innumerable adventure sports attracted backpackers and adventure lovers from around the world. Rishikesh has recently become a hub for outdoor activities. If you are an adventurous soul, then nothing can satiate your appetite better than rafting, bungee jumping, camping, and other adventure activities in Rishikesh.
History of Rishikesh
Originally Rishikesh lies in Ruru- Palpa district of Nepal, still, people call it Ruru Rishikesh. Thousands of years ago, there was a time (due to the dense forest, malaria, plague) when Indians were not able to visit Ruru Rishikesh (the birthplace of Lord Krishna) they made a duplicate Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.
There are various other mythological stories associated with this spiritually rich town. Rishikesh is also known as the abode of Raibhya Rishi, a famous saint who performed penance here. It is believed that then Lord Vishnu appeared before him as Hrishikesh, from where the place got its name.
However, this small town gained prominence as a religious site, after the great saint, Adi Shankaracharya visited the place in the 9th century AD. Post-independence, Rishikesh has been declared as the sacred Hindu town.
When to visit Rishikesh?
As Rishikesh is surrounded by the hills from three sides, it offers a cool escape during the hot seasons. Hence, the best time to visit is between March and April, and September to October. It is best to avoid travelling in the months of July and August because of heavy rainfall. Rafting is also closed during this time. Winters, from November until February, are cold but pleasant, so bring woollens. Many people consider a couple of months just after the monsoon to be the best time to visit, as the landscape is alive, green, and soothing.
What to see in Rishikesh?
The famous Lakshman Jhula, an iron-suspension bridge located 5 km distance from the railway station. It connects the Tapovan village in the Tehri with the Jonk in Pauri districts. Rebuilt in 1924 after the flood which washed away the previous hanging jute rope. It has been named after Lakshman, the brother of Lord Rama, as he built it to cross the river Ganga.
The Ram Jhula is the iconic suspension bridge just 2km away from the Lakshman Jhula. It was built in 1986 with a design similar to that of the Lakshman Jhula. The bridge interfaces Muni Ki Reti with Swargashram. It has Sivananda Ashram on one side and Gita Bhawan, Swargadham and other temples on its other side. On a windy day, you can see the entire bridge swaying and bouncing.
Parmarth Niketan in Rishikesh is amongst the largest spiritual centres in India. The peaceful and spiritual ambience of this place attracts people from all over the world. With over one thousand rooms offering spiritual simplicity, traditional and modern facilities. The daily schedule here includes morning prayers, yoga, and meditation sessions, sat sang and spiritual discourse programs, kirtan, the iconic Ganga Aarti.
Being one of the most popular sites in Rishikesh for pilgrims to take a dip in the holy river, Rishikesh is named so, as it is the confluence of the three rivers, the Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. In India, people have this belief that water of Triveni Ghat has the power to purify all sins. The evening ceremony or Maha Aarti of the deity Ganga which took place at sunset draws a huge crowd. Nearby market is the best place to buy souvenirs such as ethnic clothes, precious and semi-precious stones, bangles, and knick-knacks.
Swarg Ashram is considered one of the oldest ashrams of India. It was built in the memory of Swami Vishudhanand, the saint better known as Kali Kamli Wala (the saint with a black blanket). Swarg Ashram is filled with lots of ashrams, religious sites, ghats, temples and other points of interest. It is a must for every traveler because of its rich ethnic touch.
Hot water springs for sages Rishikund is a holy pond located near Raghunath temple in Rishikesh. This ancient pond is believed to be built by Kubz saint and blessed by Goddess Yamuna by filling the pond with her holy water. It reflects the image of the Raghunath temple dedicated to Lord Rama.
Bharat Mandir is believed to be an imposing shrine of Lord Hrishikesh Narayan located in the heart of the Rishikesh. It is believed to be the most sacred and ancient temple in Rishikesh. In 789 AD, the saint Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya reinstalled the idol of Lord Hrishikesh on Basant Panchami.
Tera Manzil Temple:
Feel the enchanting vibes of this multi-storey temple, which is a popular tourist spot on the one side of Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh. This holy shrine has 13 storeys and is named Tehra Manzil. Each storey of Trimbakeshwar Temple has beautifully carved sculptures of Hindu deities.
Muni Ki Reti:
Muni ki Reti refers to the ‘sand of the sages’. It is enveloped with the goodness of spirituality and nature. It has several mystical holy sites and the gateway for the pilgrimage of Char Dham. Every year, it receives tourists from all walks of the world. It serves you with vegetarian Indian cuisine with a blend of Israeli and Italian cuisines.
Chaurasi Kutia by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi which is popularly known as The Beatles Ashram as the popular band visited the ashram during the 1960s. Whether you are a fan of the Beatles or not, but it’s a must-do thing to visit the Ashram as it is now totally in ruins. At that point, Rishikesh was visited by Hippies and Intrepid’s.
Due to the religious significance of this place, eggs, fish, meat, and alcohol are strictly prohibited in Rishikesh. It is an ideal place to shop for religious items, books, clothes, and handicrafts.
If you like yoga you will love the moments of doing yoga in Rishikesh.