If you’re not into yoga, holistic therapy, adventure sports, spirituality, and meditation… should you bother visiting rishikesh? Yes! Read my rishikesh Travel Blog to find out how you can spend a full day at Rishikesh. My rishikesh Travel Blog covers top 5 Points Never Miss When You Are in rishikesh.
Rishikesh is a city in Dehradun district of Uttarakhand. Located in the bases of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas’ and ‘Yoga Capital of the World’. It is known as the pilgrimage town and regarded as one of the holiest places to Hindus. Hindu sages and saints have visited rishikesh since ancient times to meditate in search of higher knowledge. Due to the religious significance of the place, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly prohibited in rishikesh.
Legends state that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the asura 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 jute-rope bridge was replaced by iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889. After it was washed away in the 1924 floods, it was replaced by the present stronger bridge. Another similar suspension bridge Ram Jhula was built in 1986 at nearby Sivananda Nagar.
The sacred river Ganges flows through rishikesh. Here the river leaves the Shivalik Hills in the Himalayas and flows into the plains of northern India. Several temples, ancient and new, are along the banks of the Ganges in rishikesh. Shatrughna Mandir, Bharat Mandir, Lakshman Mandir are the ancient temples established by Adi Shankaracharya. Shatrughna Temple is near Ram Jhula and Lakshman Mandir is near Lakshman Jhula. The Ganga Arti performed at dusk at the Triveni Ghat is popular with visitors. Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, amidst forest 28 km (17 mi) from rishikesh, is a popular local pilgrimage, along with Vashishtha Guha (Cave of Sage Vashishtha), 21 km (13 mi) up from the town by the Ganges. Over the years, it has established itself as the yoga capital of the world. From the US, Europe and China and Australia, serious yoga students come to learn asanas and kriyas that will help them lead a healthy life.
In February 1968, the Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in rishikesh. John Lennon recorded “The Happy rishikesh Song”. Several other artists, including Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Paul Horn, Donovan and Gyp Mills, visited the site to contemplate and meditate. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited Rishikesh in 2013 and participated in the Ganga arti. They also conducted a special havan for world peace at the Parmarth Niketan. First we moved to
1) Lakshman Jhula
The Lakshman Jhula is a famous hanging bridge across the river Ganga that connects two villages, Tapovan in the Tehri Garhwal district and Jonk in the Pauri Garhwal district. The entire bridge is made up of iron, is 450 feet long and is situated at the height of 70 feet from the river. The Lakshman Jhula is extremely well known amongst tourists because of the rich mythological associations that are connected with the bridge. It is widely believed that Lord Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Rama, had crossed the river Ganga at this same site, where the bridge now grandly stands for all to see.
The construction of the bridge was completed in the year 1929. In the present day scenario, the Lakshman Jhula is visited by thousands of tourists each year not just because of its ancient origins and religious holiness, but also due to the recent developments that have taken place around the bridge. Grand temples and famous markets have sprung up in the vicinity, and the entire area is a now a particularly renowned attraction in entire rishikesh.
Important places around the Lakshman Jhula include the Terah Manzil temple, the Lakshman temple, and the Ram Jhula. The entire area is infused with a spiritualist, serene and holy feeling to it. It is common to find people here intensely submerged and captivated in their religious traditions and meditations, as the entire area vibrates with the sounds of the enchanting mantras and shlokas from the temple. All in all, a short visit to the temple is one filled with religious worship and tranquility, both beautifully rolled together and merged into one. Then we went to
Ram Jhula is an Iron Bridge in rishikesh of Uttarakhand State. Ram Jhula is 450- Feet Bridge on the Ganges River. It connects the Shivananda Ashram to Swarg ashram in opposite sides. Ram Jhula is landmark of the rishikesh town. Previously Ram Jhula was a dangling jute bridge (without pillar). The new Ram Jhula was built in 1980. Ram Jhula conjointly features a busy market on either side. You can purchase gems, precious and semi-precious stones, knickknacks, clothes, puja items, CDs,DVDs, etc. There are retailers for products like ayurvedic medicines, caps, Nehru jackets, kurtas, sarees and jewelry, bangles on the slim streets. But be cautious before buying anything. Overpriced duplicate items are fully occupying the shelf space. After spending some time there we found ourselves hungry. We went to Chotiwala for our lunch.
In rishikesh, it was general opinion that if you had not visited Chotiwala, then your trip was incomplete. Chotiwala, with its strange name, started off as a small eating outlet about half a century ago. And for past 20 years it has been the most famous dining destination of rishikesh. But apart from that, today the restaurant has become more of a landmark in the area. In fact, it is so popular that today many fake Chotiwala restaurants have cropped up across the town. So, be cautious! The original Chotiwala is located at a walking distance from Ram Jhula into the rishikesh’s main market area, which makes it pretty much an omissible place. However, more than that, it is the living mascot who sits outside the restaurant with painted face representing himself as the Chotiwala that makes this place almost impossible to miss. The welcome guy, ‘Chotiwala’ happily lets visitors take pictures with him, those who will dine in that. Today, there are two Chotiwala restaurants, side by side, as the owners have split the business. Both carry the family legacy and the recipes – so guests can pick either of the two restaurants.
4) Triveni Ghat
Triveni Ghat is a crowded ghat alongside the river Ganges, with pilgrims bathing around and is one of the points of interest in Rishikesh. It’s altogether a different site during the evening aarti. Though we moved to different place to see evening aarti. The spirituality and feeling around this place will take you to a different world. Triveni ghat is among the most sacred ghats in Rishikesh with a congruence of three rivers – Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. It is of belief that those who take a dip in water at Triveni Ghat washes away all the sins and purifies the soul. It was very soothing to sit on the banks of the river and enjoy the cool breeze of the river. Triveni Ghat is also known for performing ceremonies in the name of ancestors like ‘Pindha Shraddha’.Triveni Ghat holds an important place in Hindu Mythology, the Puranas and Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is believed that Lord Krishna visited the Ghat when he was hurt by an arrow shot by Jara – a hunter. Triveni Ghat is known to house three important temples- Gita Mandir, Bharat Mandir and Laxmi- Narayan Temple. There is a small market near the Ghat from where visitors can buy religious items, books, paintings and gemstones. We sat on steps of ghat and was listening a soothing music which was coming from a nearby CD/DVD shops. After spending near about 2 hours we went to Paramarth Niketan to see Ganga aarti.
5) Paramarth Niketan
Parmarth Niketan is an ashram located on next of the holy Ganges and in the lap of the Himalayas. Ashram is just next to the Ganges you can go to the Ganges by walk they have their own private ghat Parmarth Niketan offers comfort, inspiration and upliftment for your body, mind and spirit as well as a deeper connection with the Divine. The daily activities at Parmarth Niketan include morning universal prayers, daily yoga and meditation classes, daily sat sang and lecture programs, kirtan, the world-renowned Ganga Aarti at sunset, as well as Nature Cure and Ayurvedic treatment. There are frequently special cultural and spiritual programs given by visiting admired saints, acclaimed musicians, spiritual and social leaders and others. Additionally, there are frequent camps in which pilgrims come from across the world to partake in intensive courses on yoga, meditation, pranayama, stress management, acupressure, Reiki and other ancient Indian sciences.
Parmarth Niketan is open for all, with no discrimination on the basis of race, gender, nationality, religion, caste or creed. Parmarth Niketan is also organized the “International Yoga Festival” every year in month of March 1 to 7 March. They also organize the famous Ganga Aarti every day in evening ceremony is filled with devotional song, prayer, ritual and a tangible sense of the divinity of Mother Ganga. The aarti, a decorative oil lamp, lined with dozens of flames burning in pure ghee – is offered to Goddess Ganges. Ganga Aarti at Parmarth Niketan is organized and performed by ashram residents, particularly the children who are studying the Vedas there. The ceremony commences with the singing of bhajans, prayers, and a purifying and sacred ritual that takes place around a fire, with the offerings made to Agni, the fire god. The lamps are lit and the aarti takes place as the final part of the ceremony. The children sing along with the spiritual head of the ashram, in sweet, unforgettable voices. A huge statue of Lord Shiva overlooks the proceedings.
Everyone present for the aarti was engaged likewise. Thus, uncountable floating lamps adorned the rapid current of the Ganga. The starry night sky seemed to be a reflection of the river below. The river, honored as mother, looked amazing, dressed in a sari embroidered in trembling flames of gold. Rishikesh was heaven in divinity’s lap.