Rishikesh - The Yoga Capital of The World - Explore Rishikesh During Char Dham Yatra

Rishikesh is one of the major tourist and pilgrimage hubs in northern India, set against the backdrop of the Himalayas and with the pristine Ganga flowing through it where people from across the world arrive to offer their prayers to the holy river and in search of peace. Rishikesh is commonly referred to as the ‘yoga capital of the world’ and rightly so. The destination is abuzz with visitors, who come here to learn yoga and meditation. Rishikesh is home to numerous ashrams, some of which are internationally recognised as centres of philosophical studies, yoga and other ancient Indian traditions of wellness.
The Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board organises the annual International Yog Festival (IYF) here, which attracts thousands of yoga enthusiasts.

Another great part of Rishikesh are the amazing prayers that happen every evening. I can bet you have never seen Indian prayers like the one in Rishikesh. It’s done by Parmarth Niketan Ashram, where they sing many hymns & prayers as you sit by the river & watch the sun colour the Ganges in various hues of pink & orange. It’s absolutely magical. If you want to have a delicious meal after this, you can sneak into the many German bakeries that have popped up in Rishikesh.

The celestial city of Rishikesh is a hermit’s hermitage, a sage’s abode and an adventure lover’s hub. This lively city is among the holiest places of Hindus. The word Rishikesh literally suggests the ‘locks or hairs of a sage’. The city is famously known as the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas' . Rishikesh is also a commercial as well as a communication hub that lavishly sprawls over the suburban area of Muni ki Reti or the ‘sands of the sages’.

Historical Facts of Rishikesh

There are several legends associated with Rishikesh. It is said Rishikesh finds a mention in the ancient text Skanda Purana, and in the epic Ramayana. It is said Lord Rama, along with his brothers, came to Rishikesh to do penance after killing Ravana. According to history, Rishikesh has always been a part of ‘Kedarkhand’ which at present is known as Garhwal. The famous Lakshman Jhula which is among the best places to visit in Rishikesh has mythological importance and it’s believed that Ram and Lakshman crossed the mighty River Ganga here. Which was a jute bridge in the earlier days, but was replaced by an iron bridge in 1889. But it got washed away during the floods of 1924. A strong bridge was built and it still stands strong. Rishikesh has a lot on its platter to offer to travel enthusiasts. Among all pilgrimage destinations of India, Rishikesh attracts millions of people as it’s the home to ancient temples like Bharat Mandir, Shatrughna mandir, and Lakshman mandir. Numerous yoga and meditation centres have come up in the town, which serves the huge population of health enthusiasts. Home to Kailas Ashram Brahmavidyapeetham, 133-years old institution which is dedicated to promote and preserve Vedantic studies is yet another attraction spot here.

Rishikesh is also known for its connection with The Beatles. In February 1968, members of the legendary English rock band visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram (now popularly known as the Beatles Ashram) to learn transcendental meditation. The band composed nearly 48 songs during their time at the Maharishi’s ashram, many of which appear on the White Album (and a few from Abbey Road). John Lennon recorded a song titled, ‘The Happy Rishikesh Song’ after his visit. Several other international artists, including Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Paul Horn, Donovan and Gyp Mills, visited the site to contemplate and meditate.

From a Weekend Getaway to a Monthly Retreat

Rishikesh is also a town of quaint cafes, which offer local and international cuisines and are mostly packed with tourists. Interestingly, in the last couple of years, Rishikesh has become very popular for its vibrant Holi celebrations, mostly organised by private hotels and resorts.

Rafting : Get your pulse racing with an ultimate river rafting experience in the white water rapids of River Ganga. Rafting is an extremely popular adventure sport in Rishikesh and one can find many certified and authorised operators and instructors here for every grade of rafting. September to June are the best months to experience rafting. You can also try other water sports adventures like kayaking.

Bungee Jumping : Ever felt like flying like a bird? Well, Mohanchatti in Rishikesh is the place exactly meant for bungee jumping. Visit this place to jump from a height of 83 m (maximum) and for other adventures like flying fox, mountain swings and paragliding.

Trekking : Rishikesh offers several trekking and hiking trails. The Waterfall Trek is one such route that is extremely popular and has well-marked paths and offers stunning natural views. The Kunjapuri trek is another trail that offers mesmeric views of snow-covered peaks.

Giant Swing : A very popular adventure activity in Rishikesh, this exhilarating sport involves swinging through air over lush valleys on one of the largest and highest swings you would have ever seen. The swing is claimed to be the highest in India, at a height of 83 m

Zipline Tour : Rishikesh is one of the few places in India, where you can enjoy a zipline experience. In this extreme sport, you are harnessed to a wire and on being released, you slide down the wire upto 7 m above the river level and then go up, accelerating to speeds upto 160 kmph.

Rock Climbing : Nestled at the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh offers several options to rock climbers. The craggy mountains here attract both amateurs and professionals. There are several private vendors who offer rock climbing experience

Weather at Rishikesh – Best time to Visit

Rishikesh remains pleasant to visit all through the year when it comes to the weather. Since it is located in the foothills of Garhwal region, it experiences moderate summers and cool winters.

Rishikesh in Summer (March-July)

The season is best to plan a vacation in Rishikesh. The weather during these months remains moderately hot and the temperature ranges from 15°C to 40°C. One can also enjoy all the adventure activities that the place offers.

April is pleasant and sunny in the starting of the month in Rishikesh but till the end it turns hot and sunny. The weather during April is apt with temperature within 30 degree Celsius in day and under 18 degree Celsius in nights. Adventurers love hitting water rapids of Ganges on their rafting boats and enjoy the stay in the camps. River Rafting packages are booked in advance during April till May and prior arrangements are made for the travellers.

Rishikesh in Monsoon (July-September)

During this time, the city experiences heavy rainfall. Moreover, there are always chances of landslides in monsoon season. Therefore, it is advised to check the weather forecast before planning a trip to Rishikesh in monsoon.

Rishikesh in Winter (October-February)

The lowest temperature during this season is around 6°C. This season is also ideal to visit the city. One can see the place at its peak of beauty during the winter season.

Char Dham Distance Chart from Rishikesh

The Char Dham Yatra (Four Shrines Sacred Journey) ideally begins from Rishikesh. Thousands of pilgrims during their yatra visit and take night halt in Rishikesh

Char Dhams Distance from Rishikesh
Destination Distance Time Route
Yamunotri 262 kms 7-8 hrs Rishikesh – Narendranagar – Chamba – Chinyalisaur – Dharasu Band – Barkot – Jankichatti – Yamunotri
Gangotri 280 kms 8-9 hrs Rishikesh – Narendranagar – Chamba – UttarkashiGangotri
Kedarnath 205 kms 7-8 hrs Rishikesh – Srinagar -Rudraprayag – AugustmuniGuptkashiGaurikundKedarnath
Badrinath 294 kms 9-10 hrs Rishikesh – Srinagar – RudraprayagKarnaprayagJoshimathBadrinath

How to Reach Rishikesh

By Road : Rishikesh is well connected by motorable roads with major destinations of Uttarakhand and northern states of India. Luxury and normal Buses to Rishikesh are easily available from Delhi ISBT Kashmiri Gate and Meerut. Buses and Taxis to Rishikesh are available from major destinations of Uttarakhand like Dehradun, Haridwar, Srinagar, Tehri, Uttarkashi, etc. Rishikesh is situated on National Highway 58 which connects Badrinath.

By Train : Rishikesh is well connected by railway networks with major destinations of India. Trains to Rishikesh Railway station are frequent. Taxis and buses are easily available from Rishikesh to Muni-ki-Reti and Swargashram.

By Flight : Jolly Grant Airport is the nearest Airport to Rishikesh situated at a distance of 21kms. Taxis are easily available from Jolly Grant Airport to Rishikesh. Jolly Grant Airport is well connected to Delhi with daily flights. Rishikesh is well connected by motorable roads with Jolly Grant Airport.

Places To Visit In & Around Rishikesh

Neelkanth Mahadev Temple : Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is a sacred and famous temple located at 32 km from Rishikesh. Scenically situated on a hill at a height of 1330 mtrs, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is one of the most popular temples of Lord Shiva. A famous pilgrimage near Rishikesh, the temple lies above Swargashram adjacent to Nar Narayan mountain range.

Lakshman Jhula : Built-in 1939, this 137-m-long suspension bridge at a height of 21 m above the river is considered to be at the same location where it is said Lord Lakshmana (from the epic Ramayana) crossed the river Ganges with the help of jute ropes. The Lakshman jhula is the most iconic structure in Rishikesh that most of us have seen in movies and on television. Nearby is the suspension bridge Ram Jhula. The 3-km walk from Lakshman jhula to Ram jhula is an interesting one, with the road lined by small shops selling attractive kick-knacks.

Ram Jhula : Ram jhula is the famous places and a famous landmark in Rishikesh. It is a bridge which has the length of 450 ft. It connects Shivananda Ashras with Swargaashram.

Byasi : This small village located at the banks of River Ganga is a rafting and water sports adventure hub, just 30 km from Rishikesh. The road from Rishikesh to Byasi is smooth, snaking up the mountains, offering stunning views of the Ganga and the hills.

Gita Bhawan : Near the Lakshman Jhula, is the newly constructed building of Gita Bhawan. It runs a free Ayurvedic dispensary and also has a branch of the Gita Press. The stories of the epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata are beautifully illustrated on its walls.

Shivpuri : Located at a distance of 19 km from Rishikesh, Shivpuri has emerged as a popular tourist destination due to the thrilling white water rafting experience it offers. The commonest rafting stretch (around 11 km) is from Shivpuri to Lakshman Jhula.

Beatles Ashram : In the Swarg Ashram area, nestled in a forest patch, is the former ashram of Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, also known as Chaurasi Kutia and Beatles Ashram, where the legendary musicians had stayed and learnt transcendental meditation. You can walk around the ruins of the ashram, with striking graffiti of the band members painted on the walls, enjoying the peace and calm of the area.

Kaudiyala : Kaudiyala is a small village located at 40 kms from Rishikesh on Badrinath road. Scenically located on the banks of holy river Ganga, Kaudiyala is famous for white river rafting and a beautiful camping site. Highly adventure expedition lovers from far away places visit Kaudiyala to enjoy the thrill of the most challenging zones of rafting which stretches between Kaudiyal to Shivpuri.

Muni ki Reti : Muni Ki Reti is a small town located close to pilgrimage city Rishikesh. Literally ‘Sands of the Sages’, Muni Ki Reti is the home of several temples, ashrams and Yoga centres, meditation and Ayurveda. On the banks of river Ganga, Muni ki Reti is considered the place where Sages (Muni) used to meditate. It is a traditional gateway of Char Dham pilgrimages in Uttarakhand. It is also considered the same place where famous Indian King Bharat did penance. Earlier there were only some Ashrams in Muni ki Reti such as Kailash Ashram, Swargashram, Sivananda Ashram but later on more Ashrams were established in Muni ki Reti.

Swarg Ashram : A cluster of ashrams on the eastern bank of the Ganga is popularly known as Swargashram. Most of these ashrams offer courses on yoga and spiritual studies, and are well-known among tourists.

Bharat Mandir : Near the Triveni Ghat, stands one of the oldest shrines in Rishikesh, Bharat Mandir, said to have been built by sage Adi Shankaracharya. This ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, whose idol is carved out of a single black stone, popularly known as Saligram. If you are lucky, catch the spring festival also called Basant Panchami celebrated here.

Rishikund : It is a holy pond located near Raghunath temple in Rishikesh. This ancient pond is believed to be built by the Kubz saint and blessed by Goddess Yamuna by filling the pond with her sacred water. One more interesting thing about this sacred pond is that it always reflects the image of Raghunath Temple, dedicated to Lord Ram and Sita. Rishikund has around ten steps from all four sides and its pond receives a fair shadow from large trees nearby. Since it is a calm place, visitors used to relax at Rishikund.

Tera Manzil Temple : Tera Manzil Temple is a famous tourist spot and holy multi-storey temple located on the banks of river Ganga in Rishikesh. Also called up as Trimbakeshwar Temple in Rishikesh, this holy shrine has 13 storeys and each storey has several idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

Triveni Ghat : Located at the heart of town, Triveni is the most well-known bathing ghat (stepped banks of a river), where most pilgrims take a holy dip before they visit the temples of Rishikesh. An amazing sight here is the evening aarti, a ceremony accompanied by lights, drums and chanting, with the entire ghat lit with flickering lamps. Triveni Ghat is a sacred ghat in Rishikesh famous for the Ganga Aarti. Triveni words come from the join of two words Tri (three) and Veni (confluence) meaning confluence of three. It is one of the biggest and must visit ghat of Rishikesh known for its auspicious and spiritual aroma.

Parmarth Niketan : This is one of the largest ashrams in Rishikesh and one of the most popular too, specially for the annual yoga festival that it hosts. Established in 1942 by Swami Sukhdevanand Ji Maharaj, the ashram is located at the bank of River Ganga and is a serene site for yoga and meditation.

Trayambakeshwar Temple: It is 13 stories high, with different deities throughout.

Vashistha Cave : Vashistha Gufa is an ancient cave where the great sage Vashistha Meditated. It is a ideal destination for the one who comes for deep meditation in Rishikesh.

Sivananda Ashram : It is located 3 km from the Rishikesh, on the route of Badrinath near Ram Jhula. It is founded by Swani Sivananda in 1936.

Omkarananda Ashram : It is situated at Muni ki Reti at the banks of the River Ganges. It is established in 1967 by Paramhansa Omkarananda Saraswati.

Virbhadra Temple : It is located at Virbhadra town in Uttarakhand and dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is 1300 years old Temple.

Raghunath Temple : This temple is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Rama and his Wife Mata Sita. It is the most religious temple in Rishikesh.

Top 5 Places to Stay in Rishikesh

There are many options for accommodation in Rishikesh during Char Dham Yatra. Following is the list of top 5 hotels, resorts, guest houses in Rishikesh.

1) Hotel Ishan- A Riverside Retreat by Salvus

This Beautiful Hotel is situated near the famous landmark of Rishikesh which is Lakshman Jhula close to the sacred river Ganga. It provides the Beautiful view of the holy river Ganga and Lakshman Jhula Bridge.
Adddress : Laxman Jhula Road Laxman Chowk, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

2) Garud Chatti River Resort

This hotel is the ideal place for true nature lovers. It has great landscapes with Lush green valley, misty woods enchanted peaks, and racing river. This hotel offer a deeper connection with the Divine Deluxe cottages Hot & Cold Water Washroom with Toilet.
Address : Ratta Pani, Neelkanth Road, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

3) Ganga Kinare – A Riverside Boutique Hotel

This Hotel is situated snugly on the banks of sacred river Ganga. It is the only hotel in Rishikesh which is situated on the banks of the holy river Ganga. It has 38 contemporary river-facing rooms.
Address : 237 Virbhadra Road, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

4) Veda5 Ayurveda & Yoga Retreat

This Resort is situated at a distance of 10 km from Rishikesh town. It is surrounded by natural beauty and close to an ancient temple of Lord Shiva & National Park.
Address : Neelkanth Road Near Phool Chatti, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

5) Divine Resort & Spa

It is one of the most popular economic resort in Rishikesh town of Uttarakhand state in India. It offers the beautiful view of sacred river Ganga and an awesome view of the sunset and enchanting sound of the flowing river Ganga.
Address : Laxman Jhula Road Near Church, Tapovan, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

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