Rishikesh is a city, municipal board and a tehsil in Dehradun
district of the Indian state, Uttarakhand. It is located in
the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known
as the Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas. Rishikesh is
surrounded by three other districts namely Pauri Garhwal,
Tehri Garhwal and Haridwar. It is located about 25 kms north
of the city Haridwar and 43 km south west of the state capital
Dehradun. According to Census of India, 2011 Rishikesh had a
population of 102,138 making it the 7th largest city also
being largest municipal board in the state of Uttrakhand. As
per provisional data of 2011 census Rishikesh had a population
of 102,138.Rishikesh is located at 30.103368°N 78.294754°E. It
has an average elevation of 372 metres (1,745 feet).
Hrishikesha " is a name of Vishnu that means 'lord of the
senses'. The root words Hrishika and Isha join together to make
Hrishikesha. Hrishika means Senses and "Isha" means Master or
Lord. Hence the word means Lord of Senses or Lord Vishnu. The
place gets its name after Lord Vishnu who appeared to 'Raibhya
Rishi', as a result of his tapasya (austerities), as Lord
Hrishikesha. In Skanda Purana, this area is known as 'Kubjamraka'
as Lord Vishnu appeared, under a mango tree. Another legend says
that violent fire broke out here. Lord Shiva was angry with Lord
Agni and cursed him. Then Lord Agni prayed here for the
punishment of his sins. Hence it is also known as 'Agni Tirtha'
- The holy place to penance of Lord Agni or Fire God.
The name Rishikesh is loosely applied to an association of five
distinct sections encompassing not only the town but also
settlements and hamlets on both sides of the river Ganges. These
include Rishikesh itself, the communication and commercial hub;
the extensive village Muni ki-Reti or the "sands of the sages";
Shivananda Nagarthe home of Sivananda Ashram and the Divine Life
Society founded by Swami Sivananda, north of Rishikesh; the
temple sections of Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula, a little
further north; and the separated Ashrams around Swarg ashram on
the eastern bank. The Ganga Arti performed at dusk at the
Triveni Ghat is popular among visitors. Nilakanth Mahadev Temple
is situated about 28 kms from Rishikesh amidst forest is also a
popular local pilgrimage, along with 'Vashishtha Guha', (Cave of
sage Vashishtha), 21 km up from the town by the Ganges.
History of Rishikesh
Rishikesh has been a part of the legendary 'Kedarkhand' (the
present day Garhwal).Legends state that Lord Rama did penance
here for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka; and Lakshmana,
his younger brother, crossed the river Ganges, at a point, where
the present 'Lakshman Jhula' bridge stands today, using a jute
rope bridge. The 'Kedar Khand' of Skanda Purana, also mentions
the existence of Indra kund at this very point. The jute-rope
bridge was replaced by iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889, and
after it was washed away in the 1924 floods, it was restored by
the present stronger bridge. Another similar suspension bridge
Ram Jhula was built in 1986 at nearby Shivanand Nagar.
The sacred river Ganges flows through Rishikesh. It is here that
the river leaves the Shivalik mountains in the Himalayas and
flows out into the plains of northern India. Several temples,
ancient as well as new, can be found along the banks of the
Ganges in Rishikesh.
Rishikesh, sometimes nicknamed "the world capital of
Yoga", has numerous yoga centres that also attract
tourists. It is considered that meditation in Rishikesh
brings one closer to attainment of moksha, as does a dip
in the holy river that flows through it. Rafting season
starts from the month of March and ends in September.
Rishikesh is also home to the 133 year old Kailash Ashram
Brahma vidyapeetham, an institution which is dedicated to
preserve and promote the traditional Vedantic Studies.
Important personalities such as Swami Rama Tirtha, Swami
Vivekananda and Swami Shivananda have studied in this
The Tehri Dam is just 80 km uphill on the way to Gangotri.
Rishikesh is the starting point for travelling to the four
Chota Char Dhampilgrimage places - Kedarnath, Yamunotri,
Badrinath, Gangotri, and Rishikesh is also famous for
ayurvedic treatments. Many ayurveda centre are runned
where ayurvedic classes are given by ayurvedic doctors.
Rishikesh is becoming a popular spot for white water rafting
enthusiasts, both from India and abroad, as the Ganges offers
medium to rough rapids rated class 3 and class 4. It is also a
center for hiking and backpacking. In previous years bungee
jumping was also introduced in Rishikesh.
Tourist Attractions in Rishikesh
Shri 108 Baba kali Kamli Wale Swami Atam Prakash Ji. Swargashram
( Heavenly Abode) as the name suggests is a beautiful place
which is situated in scenic surroundings at the foot of
Himalayas on the left bank of the Ganges between Rishikesh and
Laxman jhula. It is the religious “ground zero” of Rishikesh
filled with a concentration of ashrams and temples. The areas is
known for its healthy and satwik living environment. It is this
spot where from ages of yore the famous Rishis and Yogis have
been doing the Tapasya.
This is a bathing ghat. Daily in the morning and evening there
are thousands of devotees who take bath here and enjoy the Maha
Aarti being performed. It is very relaxing to sit on the banks
of the river and enjoy the cool breeze from the river.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is located at an altitude of 1675 m, on
a hill over Swarg Ashram, Neelkanth Mahadev is one of the most
honored temples of Rishikesh. According to a legend, after the
great 'sagar manthan', the churning of the sea by gods and
demons took place, Lord Shiva drank all the sewage poison that
twisted his throat blue and hence the name, Neelkanth (blue
An important fair takes place here in the Hindu month
of Bhadrapad (July/August), when a visit to the temple is
Trayambakeshwar Temple near Lakshman Jhula, also popularly known
as the Tera Manzil Temple is a unique landmark in Rishikesh
because of its grand size, with statues of various gods and
goddesses from Hindu mythology adorning it. It is very popular
among domestic pilgrims. ‘Trimbakeshwar’ means the “home of the
three eyed one” or (Lord Shiva) who is the presiding deity of
Bharat Mandir is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it is one of the most
honored temples in Rishikesh. Legend has it that this temple was
built by Adi Shankaracharya as a mark of his devotion to Lord
Lakshman Jhula is an iron suspension bridge situated in
Rishikesh in Indian state of Uttarakhand . It is made over river
Ganges to cross the river and is a landmark of Rishikesh.
Gita Bhavan is the place of Guru Shri Ram Sukh Daasji, (the
great thinker of his time). It is popular among the Hindu
Brahmin Community. People gather at this ashram twice a year to
read the Ramayana together.
It is among one of the few Ashrams left in India where Kids get
the Vedas Education. One must visit here in Evening for the
Pooja/Aarti which is held at 5 pm in Winter and 6 pm in summer.
Things to do in Rishikesh
Rock climbing is also included in some of the camps but not
everyone can do it as it requires a lot of strength and skill.
The group is taken to a cliff side and with proper safety gear
everyone is given a chance to climb the cliff side.
Kayaking is the use of a kayak for moving across water.
Whitewater kayaking is the sport of paddling a kayak on a moving
body of water, typically a whitewater river. Whitewater kayaking
can range from simple, carefree gently moving water to
demanding, dangerous whitewater.
White Water Rafting
White Water Rafting of Rishikesh is very popular for its
rafting on the River Ganga (Ganges). The months from September
to December and March to June are considered as the best periods
for the ultimate enjoyment of water rafting. The rafting will go
on for several kilometres, and the path is scattered with
rapids, ranging from Level 1 to Level 5, in order of difficulty.
At the end of the trip, you have the option of jumping some 20
feet from a ledge into the water.
There are lot of soft treks available around Rishikesh. Some of
them take you to beautiful and hidden waterfalls. These
beautiful natural wonders are 2-6 kms from Laxman Jhula and are
hidden in the nearby forest. One also has the option to trek to
Neelkanth Mandir which is about 11 Kms. It is advisable to go in
a group than wandering in the wild alone and risking your life.
Climbing down with a rope is called rappelling. The group is
taken to a spot where there is a cliff drop, experts with proper
equipment who setup the gear first and then, one by one,
everyone comes down. It's all about trusting your gear and
following the instructions and then it's a lot of fun.
You are supposed to jump into freezing water from a cliff! This
is the only thing which everyone can brag about back home, of
course you are wearing a life jacket and a helmet but still to
jump from so high into the Ganga which is cloudy and the bottom
can't be seen, it's not like jumping into a swimming pool where
one can see the bottom the water is static.
Dip in Ganges
One will take a holy dip in the Ganges, with reputed curative
Camping is a recreational activity that does not have any age
limit. Any individual who likes to travel around new places and
enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of nature can embark on a
camping voyage. Camping in Rishikesh on the Ganga beach offer an
environment to wake up with the birds cher chew and can swim in
the fresh water of the river Ganges. Camping in Rishikesh is a
very popular activity.
Shopping in Rishikesh
Rishikesh is one of the most important pilgrimage centers for
Hindus in India; the city is located in the state of Uttrakhand.
A gateway for the Himalayas, the best time to visit this holy
city is from April to August. Other than sightseeing, shopping
forms an integral part of the itinerary of Rishikesh. An array
of variety of shops makes shopping in Rishikesh a memorable
experience. No matter what the tourists are looking for from
wall paintings to garments, accessories and many more, there is
something for everyone in the markets of Rishikesh.
Popular Shopping Items in Rishikesh
Semi-precious gems and astrological gems are found in plenty in
the shopping centers of Rishikesh. The Jaipur center for gems is
one of the best shops for buying gems and stones.
Junk jewelry forms an important part of shopping in Rishikesh. The
shops dotting Lakshman Jhula Bridge are not only famous for
selling religious accessories but also famous for selling
ornaments, jewelry at a very reasonable rate.
In addition, Ayurvedic medicines are sold in abundance in the
Mahesh Yogi Ayurvedic Center of the Laksman Jhula Road.
For those looking to buy some religious items, the area of Swarg
Ashram will be a perfect choice. This area involves in the trading
of tapes, beads of Rudraksha, books and clothes of religious
Apart from the wall paintings, the wooden furniture is a popular
item sold in the bazaars of Rishikesh. Tourists can select from a
wide range of carved furniture made of wood that include cradles,
stools, chairs, tables, chests from the shops of Rishikesh.
Handicrafts of Rajasthan, Kashmir and Tibet are one of the most
viable items of Rishikesh.
Clothes are sold in abundance in Rishkesh markets. While khadis
and Nehru shirts are sold like hot cakes in this region, other
attires like Yoga outfits, t-shirts having images Buddha are also
bought in abundance. For buying some really good as well as
affordable Khadi items, the best place is the handloom emporium
that is owned by the state Government. Some other Government
approved shops like Garhwal Wool; Craft Shop remain crowded with
buyers throughout the year. For buying quality woolen clothes at
affordable prices, the best bet are the emporiums that have dotted
Wall paintings and other paintings, which once added glory to the
'havelis' form an integral part of shops of Rishikesh.
How to Reach Rishikesh
The nearest railway station from Rishikesh is Haridwar. Haridwar
is a major railway station in the region. Many tourist trains
link Haridwar to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Allahabad and so on.
An extensive network of roads connects Rishikesh to the other
cities in Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal) and India, namely: Haridwar,
Agra, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Delhi and Nainital.
The hilly town of Rishikesh is located in the Garhwal region of
Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal). There is no airport in the town. But
the nearest airport at Jolly Grant in Dehradun the capital city
of the state. The airport is only 35kms away from Rishikesh.