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10 interesting things to do in Rishikesh

10 interesting things to do in Rishikesh
TravelTravel6 min read
Interesting things to do in Rishikesh    iStock
Situated in the foothills of the Himalayas along the banks of the holy river Ganga, Rishikesh is a serene town in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. Known as the "Yoga Capital of the World" and a major centre for spiritual learning and adventure activities, Rishikesh offers a diverse array of experiences for travellers. Whether you're seeking spiritual enlightenment, thrilling adventures, or simply a peaceful retreat, Rishikesh has something for everyone. Here are some of the most interesting things to do in Rishikesh:

Yoga and Meditation Retreats

Participants practicing meditation at a tranquil yoga retreat in Rishikesh.      iStock
Rishikesh is globally renowned for its yoga and meditation retreats. Numerous ashrams and yoga centres offer courses ranging from beginner to advanced levels. The Parmarth Niketan Ashram is one of the most popular, offering various programs and the opportunity to partake in the famous Ganga Aarti. Other notable yoga centres include the Sivananda Ashram and the Yoga Niketan Ashram.

Experience the Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat

Devotees performing the mesmerising Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat.      iStock
The Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat is a mesmerising spiritual experience. Held every evening at dusk, the ceremony involves chanting, fire offerings, and floating diyas on the river. It’s a beautiful and serene ritual that attracts devotees and tourists alike.

Adventure Sports

Adventure seekers enjoying the thrill of white-water rafting on the Ganga.      iStock
For adventure enthusiasts, Rishikesh is a paradise. The town offers a range of activities such as:
  • White-Water Rafting: The Ganges provides excellent rapids, making it one of the best places for white-water rafting in India. The stretch from Shivpuri to Rishikesh is particularly popular.
  • Bungee Jumping: The jump from Mohan Chatti, at a height of 83 meters, is a thrilling experience for adrenaline junkies.
  • Trekking and Camping: Numerous trails in the surrounding hills offer trekking opportunities, with campsites that provide stunning views of the Himalayas and the Ganges.
  • Rock Climbing and Rappelling: The natural terrain around Rishikesh is ideal for these activities.

Visit the Beatles Ashram (Chaurasi Kutia)

Colorful murals adorn the walls of the historic Beatles Ashram.      iStock
The Beatles Ashram, also known as Chaurasi Kutia, is where the Beatles stayed in 1968 and composed several songs. The ashram, now part of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve, is adorned with graffiti and murals inspired by the band's music. It’s a great place to explore and feel the artistic vibe that once inspired the legendary band.

Explore the Temples

Statue of Lord Shiva on the banks of river Ganga.      iStock
Rishikesh is dotted with numerous temples, each with its unique history and architecture. Some must-visit temples include:
  • Neelkanth Mahadev Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is located at a height of 1330 meters and offers panoramic views.
  • Kunjapuri Temple: This temple, located on a hill, offers breathtaking sunrise views and a spiritual ambience.
  • Trayambakeshwar Temple: A 13-story temple on the banks of the Ganges, famous for its spiritual significance and scenic location.

Attend Spiritual Workshops and Classes

Participants engaging in a spiritual workshop at a ghat in Rishikesh.      iStock
Many centres and ashrams in Rishikesh offer workshops on spirituality, Ayurveda, and holistic healing. These classes provide insights into ancient practices and modern techniques for achieving mental and physical well-being.

Café Hopping and Local Cuisine

Enjoying a relaxing moment with a view at one of Rishikesh’s riverside cafés      iStock
Rishikesh boasts a vibrant café culture with numerous eateries offering a mix of local and international cuisines. Popular spots include:
  • The Beatles Café: Known for its ambience and healthy menu.
  • Little Buddha Café: Offers great views of the river and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Chotiwala Restaurant: Famous for traditional Indian cuisine.

Visit the Rajaji National Park

Landscapes of Rajaji National Park.      iStock
A short drive from Rishikesh, Rajaji National Park offers a chance to experience the region's rich wildlife. The park is home to elephants, tigers, leopards, and numerous bird species. Safari tours are available for a closer look at the flora and fauna.

Attend the International Yoga Festival

Participants engaging in a morning yoga session at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh.      iStock
The International Yoga Festival (IYF) is one of the most prominent events in Rishikesh, attracting yoga enthusiasts, practitioners, and spiritual seekers from all over the world. Held annually in the first week of March, the festival takes place at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, situated on the banks of the holy Ganges River.

Stroll Across Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula

Ram Jhula bustling with pedestrians, shops, and scenic beauty.      iStock
Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula are two iconic suspension bridges in Rishikesh. These pedestrian bridges span the Ganges River and connect the two banks of the town, offering spectacular views and a vibrant atmosphere.

Rishikesh is a unique blend of spirituality, adventure, and natural beauty. Whether you’re looking to deepen your yoga practice, embark on thrilling outdoor activities, or simply relax and soak in the serene surroundings, Rishikesh promises a memorable experience. Each visit to this enchanting town reveals new facets and leaves visitors with a sense of peace and rejuvenation.

Frequently asked questions

1. What is the best time to attend the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh?
The International Yoga Festival is held annually in the first week of March. This is an ideal time to visit Rishikesh as the weather is pleasant, making it comfortable for outdoor activities and yoga sessions.

2. Are there accommodation options available near the venues for the International Yoga Festival?
Yes, there are several accommodation options near the festival venue, Parmarth Niketan Ashram. The ashram itself provides lodging for participants, and there are numerous hotels, guesthouses, and other ashrams in Rishikesh offering a range of amenities to suit different budgets.

3. What is the best time to visit Rishikesh?
The best time to visit Rishikesh is during the months of February to April and September to November. During these periods, the weather is pleasant with mild temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities like yoga, rafting, and sightseeing. The monsoon season (July to August) brings heavy rains, which can disrupt travel plans, while the winter months (December to January) can be quite chilly, especially in the mornings and evenings.

4. How do I get to Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula in Rishikesh?
Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula are easily accessible from the main parts of Rishikesh. You can take an auto-rickshaw or taxi from the Rishikesh bus stand or railway station. The bridges are within walking distance from many popular areas, making them convenient to visit on foot as well.

5. What should I expect during the Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat or Parmarth Niketan?
The Ganga Aarti is a devotional ceremony held at sunset, featuring chanting, fire offerings, and the floating of lamps on the river. At Triveni Ghat, the aarti is a larger, more public event, while at Parmarth Niketan, it is more intimate and spiritually focused. Both experiences are profoundly moving and offer a glimpse into the spiritual heart of Rishikesh.