Rishikesh is an internationally famed tourist destination, yet still untouched and pure. Every season, people, eco travellers, yogis, aspiring yogis, philosophers, and adventure sports lovers visit this place to immerse in one-of-a-kind experiences of a lifetime. If you are planning to visit Rishikesh, then read on for a small yet comprehensive travel guide to Rishikesh, India.
Rishikesh - the Land of Yoga & Holy Ganges
Rishikesh, also known as Hrishikesh, is a quaint little town in the state of Uttarakhand (formerly Uttar Pradesh). Set against the scenic backdrop of the Himalayas and river Ganges beautifully flowing through it, the place is called the ‘gateway to Garhwal Himalayas’ and the Yoga Capital of the globe owing to the fact that this place is the center of yogic, spiritual, and philosophical studies, and Ayurveda.
Rishikesh is the one place where every year, the annual International Yoga Day is organized and every year, thousands of yogis from across the globe come to this sacred land of yoga to celebrate traditional ancient wisdom that has captured the hearts and souls of several people across the globe.
Apart from being mentioned in the ancient texts and being a religious and spiritual hub, the place is famed for another reason and this is of special interest for the Beatles fans across the globe. The famous classic rock band traveled to Rishikesh in February 1968 to learn transcendental meditation at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram. The band composed nearly 48 new music tracks here and composed a whole album out of it. You can find these songs in the White Album and a few in the album Abbey Road. John Lenon dedicated a whole song to Rishikesh in the track titled ‘Happy Rishikesh Song’. Like the Beatles, there are several acclaimed international artists who have been visiting this quaint little tourist hub including Paul Horn, Mike Love of the Beach Boys and many more.
Best Time to Visit Rishikesh
Rishikesh is one of those places in India that can be visited at any time of the year. However, if you want to go with the best time to visit Rishikesh, when the weather is amazing and the vibe is all festive, then travel to Rishikesh during the months of October, November, till March. You can be part of one of the greatest festivals of India, the festival of colours Holi if you are traveling to this holy place in the month of March.
How to Reach Rishikesh, India?
Rishikesh is a small hamlet about 244 km from New Delhi, the capital of India. Once you land at the Indira Gandhi Intl' Airport, you can book an outstation cab directly from the airport for Rishikesh. It would take about five hours to reach there by road. Alternatively, you can rent a car or take a Volvo bus to the town. If travelling via bus, you take a pre-booked ticket so that the journey is hassle-free. To reach the bus stand, you can either hail a cab or an intercity bus from the airport. There is one more route to reach Rishikesh. Take a train or bus to Haridwar and then hire a cab from there. Haridwar is the closest city and well connected to all major cities of India.
What To Pack for Rishikesh?
Carry different layers since the temperature dips in Rishikesh and the nights can be chilly while the days are light and breezy. You can pack a couple of jackets, sweatshirts or shrugs to layer up whenever you feel chilly.
Pack more t-shirts and cotton tops for comfort and to indulge in nature breaks. T shirts are comfortable. You can wear it for a hiking tour or team it with a pair of yoga pants when you are attending one of the yoga retreats in Rishikesh.
Pack a pair of walking shoes, hiking shoes, and flip flops. Wearing a pair of walking shoes are good when you are exploring the town in the evenings while flip flops are best for visiting the temples or when you are going to sit by the banks of the river Ganges, while hiking shoes will come in handy while exploring the nearby places and various hiking spots nearby.
Pack mosquito repellents as there could be mosquitos at night, especially, if you are traveling to Rishikesh during the monsoon season.
Carry a headlight or a night light with you for when you go out during the evenings as it can get dark and some streets can become difficult to navigate. Hence, make sure to step out with a light in your hand. Keep your phone charged through the help of a power bank. Power outage can be a problem if you are staying at a bed and breakfast. If you are staying at a resort, then the chances are that they would have a full power backup.
Throwing in a few snack bars into your backpack is a great idea to complete the dietary needs as Rishikesh serves only vegan and vegetarian food. So, any nutrients that your body is used to deriving from meat, can be fulfilled with the help of these power bars.
Carry an insulated water bottle to sip water from while you are hiking. You can carry some hot coffee in it which you can enjoy while soaking in the view of the Himalayas at a secluded spot.
Pack a few stoles that you can wrap around if it gets windy or chilly. You can also use it to cover the head while visiting religious places or certain prayer ceremonies. Although it is not followed strictly. This is the beauty of the lifestyle here. No one forces any regulation upon you unless you mean any kind of disrespect to the locals.
Most Popular Things to do In Rishikesh, India
- Visit the Waterfalls Full of Fun and Mystic in Rishikesh
The gateway to Garhwal Himalayas, Rishikesh is one of the most scenic tourist spots surrounded by beautiful water bodies. Visit the famous Neer Garh waterfalls, Himshail Waterfall, Phool Chatti Waterfall and more. You can hire a two-wheeler to go to one of these. Do carry a swimsuit along and a picnic basket which you can enjoy in the lap of nature.
- Indulge in Adventure Sports
Apart from being the hub of spiritual and yogic wisdom, Rishikesh is known for fun adventure sports such as cliff jumping, zip lining, cable bike riding, bungee jumping, trekking and many more. People from across the globe come to this town when in India just to experience the thrill of these sports in Rishikesh.
- Explore River Rafting on the Ganges in Shivpuri
Oaring through the rapids of Ganges, cutting through the thrilling waters of the river that flows through the Himalayan foothills, river rafting in Rishikesh, is an experience that one never forgets. Stay at a camp in Shivpuri, just 20 kms from the Rishikesh city center and explore fun water sports in addition to river rafting such as kayaking, swimming, and more.
- Relish a Vegan Meal at a Cool Cafe
Freshly produced veggies such as spinach, carrots, beans, eggplant, broccoli and more cooked to perfection in sun dried tomato sauce brought straight from the gardens to your plate. Delectable, more divine! Isn’t it? That’s just one of the many cafes in Rishikesh, offering some of the most delectable vegetarians and vegan food choices that tickle your taste buds.
- Spend Holistic Time at the Ashrams in Rishikesh
Being the treasure trove of philosophical studies, meditation and spirituality, a trip to Rishikesh is incomplete without a visit to an ashram. Spend a weekend meditating at one of the ashrams and feel a surge of renewed energy. You can opt for the Parmarth Niketan, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram and many more. If you are a fan of the classic rock band Beatles, then you would have a dream come alive at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram.
- Attend the Evening Aarti at the Triveni Ghat
They say, ‘love has no language’. The same is true when it comes to a prayer ceremony. Visit the Triveni Ghat and see it get filled with the illuminated spirit of sacredness and love as the chants of mantras fill the ambiance. Light an oil lamp of your own and let it flow into the river Ganges as you pay homage to it.
- Immerse in a Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh
Travel to Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the globe, for an intensive yoga teacher training in India. A 200 hour yoga ttc in Rishikesh is about 4 weeks long. If you are short on time, then you can even go with yoga retreats in Rishikesh and get a beautiful glimpse into the majesty of this science.
Top Places To Explore Nearby Rishikesh
While visiting Rishikesh, there are plenty of places nearby that you can explore. These places are the hearts of the north and a must-visit during your trip here. You can pick and choose a destination depending upon the time you have on your hands. Here are a few places that you can visit nearby Rishikesh, India.
Distance via Road: 27 kms approximately
Takes about 50 minutes from Rishikesh to reach the holy city of Haridwar. Or rather, it takes about 50 minutes from Haridwar to reach Rishikesh since the city falls prior on the map if you are travelling from Delhi. The place is a pilgrimage spot where people come to wash off their sins by bathing in the holy water of the Ganges. The place is known for hosting beautiful festivities around the ghats, particularly around Diwali and Holi. Visit the Har ki Paudi ghat for sure when you are here. Other than that, visit the many temples here such as the Mansa Devi Temple, Chandi Devi Temple, and the ashrams.
Distance via road: 260 kms approx.
Takes about 8 hours to reach Auli from Rishikesh. The ski capital of India, Auli is trotted during the months of December and January when the place gets decked with snow and makes for a perfect skiing spot. Avoid travelling via car alone since the route can be a tad tricky if you are not used to mountain driving in India. Hire an outstation cab or a bus instead.
Distance via road: 260 kms approx.
Drive about 7 hours from Rishikesh and you would reach Nainital, the lake queen of the north. Go for a boat ride across the Naini Lake and later, have a delectable lunch at one of the cafes around the lake. Sip on a hot cup of cappuccino while gazing at the beauty of the lake and the ambiance around it.
Distance via road: 75 kms approx.
Mussoorie is called the queen of the hills for a reason. The place appears straight out of a movie scene, especially if you visit it during the monsoon when the water drop adds a dewy freshness and lush green texture to the entire hill town. It takes about two hours to reach Mussoorie from Rishikesh via car. You can self drive or hire a cab. The terrain is comparatively easier to drive upon.
Distance via road: 43 kms approx.
Takes about 50 mins to an hour to reach Dehradun. You can access it while travelling back to Delhi from Rishikesh or while travelling from Delhi. Lying in the lap of the Himalayas, Dehradun is the perfect city to experience the best of both worlds, the charm of a city life combined with the beauty of the mountains that engulf this quaint city.
You can stay at a bed and breakfast to experience the authentic lifestyle and soak in the local experience.