FLASHPACKING IN RISHIKESH
Devotedly with a pure heart, who so ever comes to Rishikesh, the Brahmteertha,(the supreme pilgrimage) and stays one night, becomes Godly.”
Rishikesh is a small town in the northern state of Uttarakhand in India. Scenically located where the Ganges River comes down from the Himalayas, Rishikesh catapulted to Western fame when the Beatles dropped by for a visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram (now closed), and the town is still known as the World Capital of Yoga.
The town of Rishikesh lies in the foothills of the Himalayas of the Garhwal region. It is the gateway to the upper Garhwal region and the starting point for the Char Dham pilgrimage (Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, and Kedarnath) and an ideal destination not only for pilgrims but also for the people who are interested in adventure, meditation, yoga and other aspects of Hinduism.
Rishikesh, also known as the “Place of Sagas” is a spiritual town situated 24 km upstream from Haridwar, at the confluence of the Chandrabhaga and Ganga and surrounded by the scenic beauty of the hills on three sides. The whole place is considered to be sacred as it is believed that meditation at this place leads to the attainment of salvation. There are many temples-some ancient, some new along the river Ganges. The Riverside is dotted with the ashrams of Sadhus and Sages. Rishikesh represents the site where Vishnu vanquished the demon Madhu.
Rishikesh as appearing the Adventure Capital of India for the adventure seekers as Rishikesh is the suggested place for starting their trekking expeditions to the Himalayan Peaks and for the White River Rafting. Also, International Yoga week which attracts participation from across the world is held here, every year, in February on the banks of the holy Ganga.
Rishikesh is a vegetarian city by law, as well as an alcohol-free city. Rishikesh has also banned the use of plastic bags by shopkeepers and vendors.
Days Required Exploring Rishikesh: 4 (minimum)
Lakshman Jhula Market, Rishikesh: Lakshman Jhula is one of the best areas for Shopping. There are lots of shops for clothes, jewelry, precious stones, books, spiritual things, and lots of other things.
Ram Jhula Market, Rishikesh: Ram Jhula Market is also similar to Lakshman Jula. If you cross the bridge by walking there is another market in Swargashram. In Swargashram also you can get lots of varieties.
Rishikesh Main Market: Rishikesh's main market is near Triveni ghat area. This area is mostly famous among local people. Mainly it is famous for clothes and daily needs.
Non-Vegetarian food and alcoholic drinks are completely banned in Rishikesh being the holy city. Don’t be sad, even after the ban you will find most delicious and healthy food in Rishikesh. There are some lovely Flashpacker/Backpacker cafés in the main market. You will find a lot of fresh fruits being sold on wooden karts. It has been believed that there is one non vegetarian restaurant in Rishikesh somewhere in the hills but as I haven’t seen it or been there so can’t say J . If you are visiting Rishikesh don’t forget to have a meal at the famous original “Chotiwala” Dhaba. You will find a lot of organic food which is grown locally.
Place you should not miss while Exploring Rishikesh:
Triveni Ghat: A confluence of three holy important Rivers the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the Saraswathy is a most revered sacred bathing spot in Rishikesh and is situated on the banks of the Ganges River. It is of the belief that those who take a dip in the water at this ghat washes away all the sins and purify the soul and will have salvation, a relief from all sins carried out; the water here has the power to purify them. Daily in the morning and evening, there are thousands who take bath here and enjoy the Maha Aarti being performed. It’s very soothing to sit on the banks of the river and enjoy the cool breeze from the river. – Highly Recommended
Trayambakeshwar Temple: Trayambakeshwar Temple near Lakshman Jhula, also popularly known as the Tera Manzil Temple (a thirteen-storey temple), is a unique landmark in Rishikesh because of its grand size, with idols of various gods and goddesses from Hindu mythology adorning it. It is very popular among domestic pilgrims. ‘Trimbakeshwar’ means the “home of the three-eyed one” or (Lord Shiva) who is the presiding deity of the temple. – Must See
Bharat Mandir: Lord Hrishikesh is known as Shri Bharatji Maharaj, after his name city is called Rishikesh. It is the most ancient, most sacred & most famous temple situated at the heart of the city. It is believed that city's existence came into being with this temple only. It is also believed that if any pilgrim on the day of Akshya Tritiya takes 108 parikrama (rounds) of Lord Shri Hrishikesh Naranyan at this temple and seeks the blessing at his feet (it is the only day when Lord's feet are uncovered), all his wishes are fulfilled and it is equivalent to the pilgrimage to Badrinath. The History of this sacred town is in fact the history of Shri Bharat Mandir, a center of spiritual worship and culture. Shri Bharat Mandir holds a very special place in the history and making of this city called Rishikesh. – For history lovers highly recommended
Ram Jhula: Situated 3 Km north of Rishikesh, Is an iron suspension bridge. It is made over the river Ganges to cross the river and is a landmark of Rishikesh. Ram Jhula has been added recently constructed between Shivananda Ashram and Sawargashram. The fresh air and sound of flowing water, and the scenic beauty of the region can be seen from the bridge. – Must See
Lakshman Jhula: Further upstream from Ram Jhula is the point where Lord Rama's brother Laxman is believed to have crossed the Ganges on a jute rope. Today, Laxman Jhula, another suspension bridge very similar to Ram Jhula, affords an easier crossing. Laxman Jhula is a 450 feet long suspension bridge that was built in 1939 by British. Laxman Jhula is the center for good times with its bazaars and crowded cafes. The view from the cafes overlooking the jhula - temples, bathing ghats, prayer flags, and strips of clean, sandy beaches lining the river - is inspiring. A very moving experience is to stand in the center of Laxman Jhula and feel the freshness of air; sound of flowing water rushing through the Ganges, the scenic beauty of the region and the sounds of the bell chimes create an unforgettable experience. Rafts full of adventurers passing under the bridge add to the scenic beauty of the place. – Must See
Swarg Ashram: A small township located 5 km upstream from Rishikesh, on the left bank of the Ganges, opposite to Shri Shivananda Ashram. The ashram was built in the memory of Swami Vishudhanand, the saint better known as Kali Kamli Wala (the aint with a black blanket) amongst the localities. Swarg Ashram also encompasses several cafes, stores, shopping complexes, libraries, parks, meditation centers, Ayurvedic dispensaries, restaurants, and hotels. The area lies amidst forest hills, with beautiful orchards and an atmosphere that is free from the pollution of a motorized city. The area consists of dozens of large ashrams, generally two or three-story buildings, with hundreds of rooms that serve as residential quarters for priests, pilgrims, students, and tourists looking for economical accommodation.It is an ideal destination for all those people who love to have a word with nature and are spiritually inclined. – Highly Recommended
Paramarth Niketan Ashram: An ashram located next of the holy Ganges & in the lap of the Himalayas. Ashram will provide his entire pilgrims with a sacred & peaceful atmosphere for his guests who came all over the world. With over 1,000 rooms, the facilities are a perfect blend of modern amenities and traditional, spiritual simplicity. 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 revered 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 to all, with no discrimination on the basis of race, gender, nationality, religion, caste, or creed.
Vashistha Gufa: Vashistha cave is a cave (Guha) of the great sage Vashistha, who was one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages) in ancient India. Vashistha was manas Putra of Lord Brahma & Guru of Lord Ram. This cave is located 25 km far from Rishikesh & it is believed that Vashistha Rishi meditated here. This cave is the most beautiful place for meditation. Vashistha was one of the authors of the ancient Indian scripture Rigveda. Legends say that Vashistha came here to River Ganga for suicide after the death of his children. River Ganga refused his suicide. Arundhati (Wife of Vashistha) decided to stay here because she liked the atmosphere. Sage Vashistha meditated here.
Rafting: River rafting in Rishikesh offers adventurers a unique taste of adventure. Before you begin your rafting experience, you can check out the rafter's profile. The stretch across the Ganges here offers you an array of rapids. Adventurers can choose a grade depending on their physical strength and individual preferences. In any case, the adventure activity of white water rafting is definitely going to provide you with an experience that will haunt your memories for a long long time.
Body Surfing & Cliff Jumping: If you have some time to kill then body surfing in Rishikesh is an ideal bet for you. However, before you enter the icy waters, it would be better to have an introductory session with the masters of the game, the professional surfers. Won’t it be a nice experience if you get to surf without using a surfboard? It would certainly be great isn’t it, to just let the current guide you while you take on the waves. What is more interesting is that you get to maneuver your body like a skillful and playful seal while your body surf riding the waves.
Cycling: Fresh mountain air, alluring tracks, lingering fragrances of lovely flowers, scenic rural areas: all these add joy to classic mountain biking activity in Dharamshala. So for those who have a passion for the environment and love cycling, Dharamshala is the perfect place. Renting a cycle is very easy in this valley as there are many agencies that encourage the sport. So you can explore the whole town on a cycle and have a rejuvenating experience.
Temperature: Max. 38 C in June; Min. 0 C in Jan.
Best season: January to June; September to December. July-August is the rainy season.
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