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Rishikesh

 India's Yoga Capital 

[ Travel date : August 2021 ]

Rishikesh - India's yoga capital, is a pilgrimage site for saints and sadhus, an eternal home for people who seek peace lying at the feet of the Himalayas. Here the river Ganga - India's lifeline - flows through the entire city in a meandering way. A place where the sound of the river is the only constant no matter where you are at. This place is for both the people who are spiritually inclined as well as the people who like adventure and water sports.

 

The place has a holy vibration, enabling good thoughts to come naturally. You are coaxed into thinking about yourself, your body, mind, and soul. In the evening, the sounds of prayers and aarti from the temples fill the air with very positive energy. All you have to do is sit by the Ganga ghat and watch the sunset.

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My journey started with landing in a small hostel near Lakshman Jhula. I had planned to stay here for eight days in order to live peacefully and work from a different city. I didn't know much about Rishikesh before coming here, but I learned a lot while staying for a week. This location is steeped in history. Among many stories, there is the story that talks about how Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the asura king of Lanka. It is also said that his younger brother, Lakshmana, crossed the Ganges using two jute ropes at the point where the current 'Lakshman Jhula'  stands today.

 

The world-famous 'The Beatles' band also came here in the 1960s to practice meditation, which eventually turned out to be one of their most enlightening times in music, and Rishikesh has since become internationally famous.

How to Reach

 

The quickest and cheapest way to get to Rishikesh is to fly to Delhi and then take a train or bus to Rishikesh. The nearest airport is Dehradun, but it is more expensive than the other options. If you are short on time and money is not an issue, then taking a flight to Dehradun is the best option.

 

Distance from major cities -

  • 1. Delhi (225 km): 5 hours drive

  • 2. Haridwar (24km): 40 mins drive

  • 3. Dehradun (43km): 2 hours drive

By Train: This is a convenient option. You can take a train from Delhi to Haridwar and then a 40-minute taxi ride to Rishikesh for around Rs. 100. You can also take a private cab to Haridwar for between Rs. 1000 to 1200.

 

By Bus: You can take a bus from Delhi to Rishikesh in the morning or late evening, but depending on the type of public transportation, it may take 7-8 hours.

 

By Cab: If you enjoy long drives, then this will be the best choice for you to get to Rishikesh.

Best time to visit

Rishikesh is a lovely destination with stunning views all year round. As a result, you can visit Rishikesh at any time of year. The best time to visit Rishikesh for River Rafting is from late September to November, or early March to May.

 

I visited Rishikesh in the end of August, and the weather was moderate with occasional drizzles.

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Traveling messes you up, but in all the good ways.

It leaves you always craving more, an addiction that can never quite be met. Every place, every trip, every person is a new adventure; pulling you deeper into the love of wanderlust. Your heart begins to hurt when you're standing still, and your mind begins to itch over the idea of new places you haven't been to. Fill your soul with adventure and travel stories to tell, and you will live a fulfilling life.

Places to visit

 

Ram Jhula - It is a suspension bridge built over the Ganga and is one of Rishikesh's main attractions. You can enjoy the fresh air, the sound of the running water, and the natural beauty from the bridge.

 

Lakshman Jhula - It links the villages of Tapovan and Jonk and being the less crowded place, is a tourist attraction. Markets can be found on either side of the bridge, where you can buy wooden goods, Rudraksha, idols of Gods and Goddesses, religious texts, gems, local jewelry, garments, and other souvenirs. These neighborhood markets are also well-known for their delicious street food.

Triveni Ghat - It is one of Rishikesh's most important and sacred ghats, famous for its Ganga aarti. This is the meeting point of three rivers: the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswathi. Ganga Arti takes place in the evening at 6 p.m.

Trayambakeshwar Temple - " तेरह मंजील " Temple is a renowned spot and holy temple located on the banks of river Ganga. Also known as "Trimbakeshwar Temple" - it is a temple with each storey having several idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

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Parmarth Niketan - One of India's few Ashrams where children can learn about the Vedas. Pooja/Aarti is a must-see here which takes place in the evening at around 5 PM. 

Neelkanth Mahadev Temple - This temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is perched on top of a hill about 12 kilometers from Rishikesh. According to legend, Lord Shiva ate the venom that oozed out during the "Samudra Manthan" at what is now known as the Nilkanth Mahadeo.

Beatles Ashram - Also known as 'Chaurasi Kutia' - meaning this place contains 84 meditation domes as depicted in the picture. It served as a training facility for the students of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the inventor of the Transcendental Meditation technique. In 1968, the Beatles studied meditation there.

Aside from these attractions, here are some other things to do for people seeking adventure:

  • River Rafting

  • Bungee jumping

  • Rock Climbing

  • Rappelling

  • Camping and trekking

  • Kayaking

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Places to stay

One of my Instagram's most frequently asked questions. It is simple to find a place to stay in Rishikesh, but deciding where to stay is important. The town is divided into two sections by the river: the busier side and the Yoga side. Tapovan is the area with the largest number of hotels and restaurants. It is also close to Lakshman Jhula, so it is preferable to stay here. These areas are less crowded compared to areas near Ram Jhula.

 

I stayed at Shalom Backpackers and worked from their garden. It provided me a stunning view of the Ganga River and is the best location for people who want to live and work there. Similar cheaper options for accommodation include Zostel, Hostellers, etc. with bunk bed systems and daily rates ranging from Rs. 500 to 800. They also have private rooms ranging price from Rs. 1000 to 1200. When I need to travel for an extended period of time, I find them to be very comfortable.

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Places to eat

Because it is a sacred site, it only serves vegetarian food. There are some really good cafes in Rishikesh where you can sit for hours and enjoy the view of the Ganga river while drinking some really good coffee and eating delicious food.

 

A few of my personal favorites are -

The Beatles Cafe - The Cafe is a pleasant place to unwind and work, with Beatles memorabilia adorning the walls. Here's a tip for the first-time visitors, try the Irish Veg & Cheese Burger with Cold Coffee. You will definitely love it.

 

The Freedom Cafe - Even during the off-season, there are always people waiting to be served at the Freedom Cafe. It's famous for its unobstructed views of the Ganga and the soul-stirring music that plays in the background.

Other well-known restaurants/cafes -

  • Little Buddha Cafe

  • Madras Cafe

  • Chotiwala Restaurant

  • German Bakery

  • Ganga Beach Restaurant

Things to buy

Finally, I'll get to my favorite part: shopping for souvenirs. Here are the good souvenirs you can buy :

  • Old coins - Many old ancient coins have been discovered on the banks of the Ganga, which people offer to the holy god. It was a lot of fun for me to look through the coin piles for old or non-Indian coins. And, yes, I bought one as well.

  • Stone Shaligrams - Rounded small stones found in rivers are thought to be a representation of Vishnu.

  • Rudraksha Mala - refers to a stonefruit, the dried stones of which are used by Hindus as prayer beads.

  • Religious books - If you are looking for religious/spiritual books, there are many local book shops, most of which are located near Parmarth Niketan / Ram Jhula.

  • Sandalwood - an integral part of worship in Indian temples.

 

At last... enjoy the city like a local

Rishikesh is a place where you should travel for at least a week. This is one of the best ways to explore and know about the city. I've always wanted to live in a new city or a country, explore it, and become a part of it. And this trip provided me with the opportunity I was looking for. Just experience splashing the ice cold water of Ganga on your face or take a stroll through the streets. One of my favorite things to do was just to sit by the ghat and observe the sunset with a 360-degree view of this lovely city.

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