Posted 31 October 2022

Here’s why you should go to Rishikesh on a family-friendly vacation, “Abode of the Gods”

Cradled by the mighty Himalayas on one side and the majestic Ganges River on the other, Rishikesh is often considered the best of both worlds. Due to its panoramic setting and abundance of epic geographical features, this city in Uttarakhand has become the one-stop destination for adventure sports enthusiasts in the country. Besides the thrill of extreme sports, Rishikesh is also contrastingly famous for Hindu pilgrimage and spiritual tranquillity. This is the reason why Rishikesh is known as both ‘the adventure sports capital of India’ as well as ‘the yoga capital of the world’, and is worth paying a visit.

The city of Rishikesh has many names, and one of them is ‘Abode of the Gods’. However, the popular name of Rishikesh was derived from ‘Hrishikesh’, which is a form of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu. This city has also been mentioned in the Skanda Purana (one of the several holy texts of Hinduism) as an auspicious site of meditation for several Hindu saints. Moreover, Rishikesh is also home to several Hindu temples and ashrams. But what sets it apart from most other tourist places in India is that in 1963, the legendary English rock band ‘The Beatles’ recorded most of their songs from ‘The White Album’ at Rishikesh.

Places to visit in Rishikesh

Rishikesh is dotted with an abundance of tourist spots that are suitable for both leisure as well as religious tourists. When visiting this city, you can enjoy both high-octane action in the form of adventure sports as well as soulful moments of bliss in the form of temples and scenic beauty.

Ram and Lakshman Jhula

The Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula were originally rudimentary jute-rope bridges that were constructed to honour the crossing of Lord Rama and his brother Lakshmana’s crossing of the Ganges on a mere jute rope. The 284 ft long Lakshman Jhula was tragically washed away in the flood of 1924, after which both the Ram Jhula and the Lakshman Jhule were re-built as modern iron suspension bridges.

  • While the Ram Jhula connects important tourist sites like Sivananda Ashram and Swargashram, the Lakshman Jhula connects the Pauri district with the Tehri district of Uttarakhand.
  • Neither of these bridges requires an entry fee and tourists are usually free to wander up and down the bridge to experience the breathtaking view of the mighty River Ganges.

Neelkanth Mahadev Temple

This is one of the most unique and mesmerising temples dedicated to the worship of the Hindu God Shiva (also known as Mahadeva). It is located at a height of 1330 m above sea level, vertically adjacent to the famous Swargashram and nestled beside the Nar Narayan Mountain Range.

  • The Neelkantha Mahadeva Temple might be quite a challenging trek for some.
  • The beautiful murals and carvings on the outer walls of this temple coupled with the sacred Shivalinga shrine on the inside, make the journey worthwhile.

Muni ki Reti

The name Muni ki Reti translates to the ‘Sands of the Sages’ and is packed with some of the most prominent temples, ashrams, and yoga centres in Rishikesh. The popular Sivananda Ashram, Swargashram, and Kailash Ashram are all located here, and today, this small suburban locality in Rishikesh is a hub of all things spiritual.

  • Muni ki Reti is located about 22 km from the nearest airport (Jolly Grant Airport) and about 3 km from Rishikesh Railway Station.
  • It is also a popular site for international tourists who visit Rishikesh to experience the divine pleasure of meditation, as well as become at one with their true selves and achieve spiritual peace.

Rishikund

Apart from temples and sites for adventure sports, Rishikesh also has one of the oldest ponds. The Rishikund pond, which is located near the Raghunath Temple, was supposedly blessed by the Hindu Goddess Yamuna. As a result, the water from this lake is considered sacred and the pond itself is revered by pilgrims who often take a bath in its calming waters.

  • This holy pond is about 17 km from the Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun and a short 1 km distance from Rishikesh Railway Station.
  • Tourists can easily avail of cycle rickshaws from the railway station to Rishikund and state-run buses as well as taxis from Jolly Grant Airport to Rishikund.

Other places to visit

Apart from these four most famous places to visit in Rishikesh, several other locations throng with tourists almost year-round. For example -

  • Bharat Mandir
  • Triveni Ghat
  • Parmarth Niketan
  • Geeta Bhawan
  • Kaudiyala
  • Tera Manzil Temple
  • Vashistha Cave
  • Sivananda Ashram
  • Swargashram
  • Osho Ganga Dham Ashram
  • Raghunath Temple
  • Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram (also known as the Beatles Ashram).

Things to do in Rishikesh

Since Rishikesh is known as the ‘adventure sports capital of India,’ hordes of thrill-seeking tourists visit this city in Uttarakhand. From bungee jumping to being awed by the beauty of the Neer Gaddu Waterfalls, Rishikesh has a generous offering of things to do for all kinds of tourists.

River rafting

The rapids of the Ganges, passing through Rishikesh, offer tourists the perfect opportunity for river rafting.

  • It is a thrilling activity that all adults can engage in and it is best enjoyed during the summers and the monsoon.
  • The approximate cost per person for this highly thrilling adventure sport is anywhere from ₹1500 to ₹3000.

Camping

The foothills of the Himalayas have always been known for their biodiversity, and tourists can witness this up close when camping at Rishikesh. There are several locations away from the main city for setting up camp in Rishikesh.

  • It is recommended to take a tour guide along or book a reservation at many of the camping resorts available in Rishikesh for a safer experience.
  • These can cost anywhere between ₹1000 and ₹6000 per night.

Flying fox

Since bungee jumping is an extremely adrenaline-rushing experience, some may prefer a milder activity with almost the same amount of fun. Therefore, the flying fox is a popular activity amongst tourists in Rishikesh. It essentially consists of a zipline along which tourists are carried across the valley.

  • One can witness the mesmerising beauty of the Himalayan valleys and possibly even spot some pristine wildlife when zip lining.
  • The cost of this activity is anywhere between ₹2000 and ₹5500 per head.

Hot air balloons

For those who prefer to relax in the safety of a cabin and still float through the air and have an equally impressive view, the hot air balloons at Rishikesh are a real delight. The hot air balloons in Rishikesh are tied to the ground and carried up by a light aircraft so that you can soak in the beautiful landscape of Rishikesh from high above.

  • This is one of the most relaxing and luxurious activities in Rishikesh and costs about ₹6000 to even ₹15,000.

Travelling tips for Rishikesh

  • If you want to try adventure activities in Rishikesh, like river rafting or bungee jumping, you must always follow the instructor.
  • If you want to go on a jungle safari, book your tour in advance.
  • The Ganga aarti ceremony takes place in the evening. Plan your visit in the evening accordingly.
  • You must set aside some time to shop and taste street food when in Rishikesh.
  • Climate: Rishikesh experiences a humid subtropical climate.

Best time to visit Rishikesh

The weather in Rishikesh is best during the months of September to March. As a result, Rishikesh is considered the entry point to the 4 major pilgrimage sites of India (the Char Dham), and as a result, can be visited from May to October as well. Nevertheless, you can visit Rishikesh year-round depending on the season that is most suitable for you.

  • Summers (March to May) in Rishikesh are quite hot and humid with temperatures ranging from 14°C to 39°C.
  • Winter months (October to February), you can experience temperatures as low as 8°C and as high as 34°C.
  • The monsoon season (June to September), however, has a moderate temperature range of 24°C to 35°C.

Shopping in Rishikesh

Since most vacations are not complete without some shopping for souvenirs and exquisite local items, Rishikesh too offers tourists several shopping destinations.

  • Lakshman Jhula Market
  • Shyampur Haat Bazaar
  • Rishikesh Main Market
  • Gole Market
  • Ram Jhula Market

These markets are famous for local spices, perfumes, apparel, and many more items that are usually not found anywhere else in India.

How to reach Rishikesh ?

  • By road: For those tourists who stay in and around Uttarakhand, Rishikesh is fairly easy to reach by road transport. The city of Rishikesh is very well connected by roads to all major urban centres in Uttarakhand, and one can find both luxury as well as regular bus services running to and from Rishikesh throughout the year. Buses and taxis are available from nearby cities like Dehradun, Haridwar, Srinagar, Tehri, Uttarkashi, and Badrinath. You can take National Highway 58 to reach Rishikesh when travelling from these locations.
  • By rail: This city is also well connected by rail, since trains from most major cities in India have routes that terminate at Rishikesh Railways Station. For example, the Hemkunt Express and the Rishikesh Shri Ganganagar Express are two popular trains that connect Rishikesh to Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and many more cities in North India.
  • By air: The most effective means of travel to Rishikesh is by air, because several flights connect this holy city to almost all cities and metropolitans in India. However, since Rishikesh does not have its own airport, the nearest airport that you can arrive at to reach Rishikesh is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. IndiGo operates several connecting as well as non-stop flights to Rishikesh locations across the country to Dehradun (Jolly Grant Airport).
  • For example, flights from Delhi to Dehradun are affordable non-stop flights with minimum flight durations. The same can be said for most flights to Dehradun from Prayagraj.
  • The non-stop flights to Dehradun from Delhi take about 40 to 50 minutes.
  • The same from Mumbai to Dehradun may take even up to 2 hr and 35 min.
  • Bengaluru to Dehradun (almost a cross country journey) usually takes about 2 hours and 50 minutes.
  • On the other hand, flights to Dehradun from other cities like Varanasi, Vadodara, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Ranchi, Amritsar, Udaipur, Surat, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Kolkata, and several others are usually connecting flights.

Conclusion

With so many things to do and places to immerse yourself in, Rishikesh can be your next holiday destination. It is a suitable tourist spot for families, groups of friends, and even couples. Since Rishikesh has something for people of all ages and inclinations, it is rapidly growing as one of the most popular tourist places in India. As a result, the number of flights that operate to and from Dehradun Airport by IndiGo and all other airline carriers is probably set to increase in the coming years.

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