Rishikesh is considered one of the holiest places in India, by the Hindus. It is worldwide popular as the Yoga Capital of the World, also nicknamed as Yoganagari.
In 1968, The Beatles, along with other celebrities like Donovan, Mia Farrow, and Mike Love, visited Rishikesh to attend a meditation session at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh. During their time in Rishikesh, they produced their most successful music tracks which gained widespread attention and appreciation. This affected the westerners’ outlook on Indian spirituality. Nowadays, serious yoga students from all over the US, Europe, China, and Australia come to learn asanas and kriyas.
The water flowing in river Ganga in Rishikesh is the least polluted compared to other parts of the river in different states. This is so because the most pollution heavy points are in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh.
Among various yoga centers that attract tourists, listed below are some of the most popular places to visit in Rishikesh:
Tourist places near Rishikesh within 100 kms
The Beatles Ashram: Originally known as the Chaurasi Kutia, The Beatles Ashram is located on the eastern bank of the holy river Ganga. The ashram was built in 1963 when it received a $ 100,000 donation from an American heiress Doris Duke. It is considered a place of religious significance and known as the Yoga Capital of the World. It is now a part of Rajaji National Park and has to be entered through the same. Located near the foothills of the Himalayas, Rajaji National Park has more than 500 elephants, 12 tigers, 250 panthers, numerous species of deer, wild boars, bears, and sloths. It is one of the best bird-watching destinations in India having over 400 bird species.
Ganga Aarti: One of the most spectacular sights in Rishikesh is the Ganga Aarti. It is attended by hundreds of tourists and devotees every day in the evening. The authenticity of the ritual and the beauty of the countless earthen lamps floating in the river Ganga is a truly remarkable experience. The Ganga Aarti is famously held at two locations: The Parmarth Niketan Ashram and The Triveni Ashram.
Triveni Ghat: The famous Maha Aarti is held at The Triveni Ghat every evening around 6-7 P.M. It is beautiful to watch the Ghat light up to the countless Diyas. The ghat is also popular for spiritual ceremonies like Pinda Shraddha, Mundan, etc. It is believed that people who take a bath at Triveni Ghat are relieved of their sins and emerge with a purified soul and that they will attain Moksha after death.
Shivpuri: Shivpuri literally means Home of Lord Shiva. It is much popular for the Shiva temple which gives it the name. Still, it is known mostly for being the most famous river rafting destination at Rishikesh. Outstanding safety standards and skilled guides are easily available for the safety and convenience of the tourists and other visitors as well. For someone seeking adventure and fun, it is also popular for rock climbing and camping. The view here is awe-inspiring during the sunrises and sunsets. Tourists visiting here take back with them an adventurous experience, photos of stunning mountain and river views alike and an unforgettable adrenaline rush.
Lakshaman Jhula: Now recognized as an iron suspension bridge across the river Ganga, originally it was a jute rope bridge. It is believed that Lord Rama did penance in Rishikesh for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Lord Rama’s younger brother Lakshman crossed the river Ganga, at a point via the then jute rope bridge which came to be known as The Lakshaman Jhula. It takes roughly 15 minutes to reach the bridge from Rishikesh Bus stand so you can definitely enjoy the view.
Omkarananda Ashram: The yoga space in Omkarananda Ganga Sadan Ashram offers the best yoga outside of Shri Paramhamsa Omakarananda Saraswati’s own abode in Pune. The ashram has an impressive view and is led by the guru’s own disciple Usha Devi. With a firm hand and soft heart, Devi guides her students through exacting yoga postures that eke out perfection.
Parmarth Niketan: Located in the lap of lush Himalayas, along the banks of the river Ganga, this ashram was founded in 1942. It is the biggest ashram in Rishikesh comprising over a thousand rooms. Thousands of pilgrims coming from all over the world enjoy the pure and sacred atmosphere of the ashram. Numerous yogas are included as the daily activity at Parmarth Niketan along with different prayers, meditation techniques, lecture programs, etc. Moreover, there are frequent camps organized in which pilgrims take part in intensive courses on yoga, meditation, Pranayama, stress management, acupressure, Reiki, Ayurveda, and other ancient Indian sciences. Additionally, it welcomes all visitors irrespective of their caste, color, race, nationality or religion.
Ram Jhula: Another iron suspension bridge, 3 kilometers from Rishikesh, it connects Sivananda Nagar area of Muni ki Reti in Tehri Garhwal district to Swargashram in Pauri Garhwal district. It is considered as one of the iconic landmarks of Rishikesh. Built-in the year 1986 it is slightly bigger than Lakshaman Jhula.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple: This Hindu temple is dedicated to Nilkanth, an aspect of Lord Shiva. It is at a distance of 32 kilometers from Rishikesh. Situated at a height of about 1330 meters, it is one of the popular religious spots in Rishikesh. Legends state that the place where the temple stands is the sacred spot where Lord Shiva consumed the poison that came from the ocean during the holy Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean). The poison made his throat blue in color. Thus, Lord Shiva is also called Neelkanth, literally meaning The Blue Throated One. The scriptures in the temple even depict the Samudramanthan and the Neelkanth Mahadev. A heavy number of Hindu devotees flocks to the temple during Maha Shivratri and makes an offering of Bael leaves, coconut, flowers, milk, honey, etc to Lord Shiva.
Bharat Mandir: The temple is one of the oldest temples in the city of Rishikesh. Situated in the heart of the city, its glory is described in Kedar Khand. In the literature, Lord Vishnu said, “I will reside here forever as Rishikesh Narayan and this place will be known as Rishikesh.” The temple was also mentioned in the Varah Puran (Chapter 122). It is considered as the most sacred place of Lord Rishikesh according to Narsingh Purana. Also, it is only 1.5 kilometers from the Rishikesh railway station.
Kaudiyala: Another river rafting spot in Rishikesh in Kaudiyala. It is roughly 40 kilometers from Rishikesh but if you’re visiting Rishikesh, you cannot possibly miss the adventurous prospects that Kaudiyala entails. It is one of the prime spots of adventure lovers. Mountaineering, rock climbing, river rafting, camping, it features everything exciting. The best time to visit this natural beauty is around February to May or from September to November. In the monsoons, the river rafting can be a bit more than adventurous but few adventure maniacs still come around this season.
Raghunath Temple: Being only about 5 kilometers from the Rishikesh, it automatically becomes one of the easily reachable and popular places in Rishikesh. The temple premises have a small holy pond known as Rishikund. Legends state that Raghunath i.e. Lord Rama took bath in the pond while he was spending the exile away from Awadh.
Tourist places near Rishikesh within 200 kms
Kuari Pass: Widely known as the best Himalayan trek for beginners, Kuari Pass which is 131 kilometers from Rishikesh is also called the Lord Curzon trail. It was initially explored by Lord Curzon, who was the viceroy of India between 1898-1905. For people who have barely begun stepping into trekking, this is the best place to start. It is an easy-moderate trek that entails ancient forest trails, excellent campsites, and scenic mountain views.
You can start the trek at Lata, which is connected to Haridwar by road. From Lata to Guling via Dhak, the altitude varies from 2,317 meters (7,601 ft.) to 2,997 meters (6,956 ft). The ascent is initially steep but becomes gradual towards the middle and then steep again for the remaining half trek. From Guling to Khullara the altitude increases from 2,997 meters (9,832 ft) to 3,352 meters (11,100 ft.). You can refill your water bottles from streams along the trail. The ascent is moderate. Finally, from Khullara to Chitrakantha/Tali via Kuari Pass the altitude goes to a maximum of 3,815 meters (12,516 ft.).
The spectacular 360-degree view of the Himalayan range after approximately an hour of the steep climb is totally worth it. From there it is almost another hour to reach the Kuari top. Climbing another hour’s moderate ascend will get you to the Jhandi top where the views are even better than at the Kuari top. From here, you would want to descend down to the Tali Lake. You will see beautiful Tugasi village’s way below in the valleys. A descending walk from there and you will reach Padiyar temple and the trail continues to descend. The trail in this section is quite populated and you once again reach Auli.
Jadh Ganga Trek: Unlike the Kuari Pass Trek, which welcomes the beginner trekkers, the Jadh Ganga Trek is one of the most difficult ones in the Himalayan trek. The highest point of the trek in the region is 5,230 meters high and the ascend is moderate. You can even decide to go further towards Mana Pass and eventually conclude your journey at the Badrinath Temple. The pristine and scenic beauty of the place is someone all tourists take back with them along with an exhilarating experience.
There are a bunch of more fun tourist places in and around Rishikesh within 100 – 200 kilometers, some of which are listed below:
- Neer Garh Waterfall (12 kilometers)
- Phool Chatti Ashram (15 kilometers)
- Tera Manzil Temple (16 kilometers)
- Jumpin heights (25 kilometers)
Undoubtedly, Rishikesh is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. It attracts people from all over the world to experience its pristine, divine, natural beauty, mountain views, its exhilarating rock climbing, and river rafting adventures along with its numerous spiritual destinations.
Another Good Reading
SPITI VALLEY: The Land Of Gompas and Monasteries
Western Ghats-Top 7 Majestic Tourist Destinations [Guide for Travelers]
How to plan a trip to Kasol as a beginner [Complete Travel Guide]
Best Places to visit in Dubai [must visit in 2019]