Rishikesh is a sacred city located on the foothills of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand.
Here Ganga leaves the mountains and joins the plains for her long journey. It is an important pilgrimage centre, and considered to be one of the major seats of Hindu philosophy.
Rishikesh is located on the right bank of the Ganga, surrounded by scenic beauty of the hills, 40 kms from Dehra Dun. Rishikesh is also the gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas and the access point for the Char Dham pilgrimage to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. It is well known for several Himalayan Ashrams or religious retreats and for the availability of treatment for a variety of stress-induced ailments using meditation practices and ancient herbal techniques. Rishikesh is also famous for ashrams teaching Yoga so this place known as ‘World Capital of Yoga’. Rishikesh is also an ideal base camp for adventure sports such as White River Rafting and Trekking in the nearby Himalayas.
What to see:
5 kms north of Rishikesh, is the spot where Sri Laxman is said to have performed tapasya. The Laxman temple was built in his memory This suspended iron bridge built in 1939 is said to be a replacement of the jute rope bridge built by Lakshmana to cross the river. Seeing its immense popularity among the tourists, Ram Jhula, another suspended Iron Bridge has been constructed between Shivanand Ashram and Swarg Ashram recently.
Neel Kanth Mahadev
Situated at an altitude of height of 5,500 ft 12 km from Rishikesh, on a hill above Swarg Ashram, Neelkanth Mahadev is one of the most venerated temples of Rishikesh. . The trek up to the temple gives a wide-angle view of the Himalayan peaks, Babhar forests and the plain below. This is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva drank the poison churned out of the cosmic ocean. lt turned his throat blue which is why he is also called Nilakanth. The temple is located in the top of a hill accessed by a 10 km walk or a 32 km drive.
The black statue of Vishnu in the temple have been consecrated by Sri Sankaracharya in the 9th century. This event is commemorated every year during Vasant Panchami to mark the onset of spring. In the surrounding it holds number of images associated with the worship of Lord Shiva.
It is regarded as the most important religious ceremonies place in Hrishikesh, it is believed that the Ganga is joined here by the Yamuna and the Saraswati rivers. The aarti performed at sunset at the Triveni Ghat is touching and visually appealing . As the sun begins to set, temple bells ring and chants rent the air. A row of religious celebrants hold plates of flaming ghee, moving them in a circular salutation to the River Goddess. Devotees also release flower-filled leaf boats carrying small diyas and let them float downstream towards Haridwar. It is a ceremony of worship, remembrance and hope. The cool breeze from the river and serenity of the aarti ceremony is a divine experience.
People believe that this temple situated in the place where the Chandrabhaga merges with the Ganga
It is situated on the way to Haridwar , this temple has been mentioned in ancient scriptures.
White Water Rafting
The adventure lovers love to venture white water rafting in the River Ganges here and brave the challenge of mighty, violent river that rush from the icy heights of the Himalayas and run across meandering boulder-strewn beds, cutting deep gorges and breaking into silvery-white rapids.
Trekking into the Garhwal Himalayas is another popular activity of Rishikesh. One can chose from a number of options of religious, scenic, botanical and altitude treks, the two most popular trekking root are from – a) To Neelkanth from Swarg Ashram, and b) To Kunjapuri Temple from Tapovan. Both the temples are perched on a hilltop.
When to Visit
The best season to visit, is between May to November.
Road: Rishikesh is 238 km from Delhi by road and 23 kms from Haridwar.
Rail: Haridwar is well connected by rail from Howrah (1438 kms), Bombay (1574 kms), Delhi (199 kms), Lucknow (475 kms), Agra (365 kms).
Air: Jolly Grant airfield,is the nearest airport which is 35 km from Haridwar.