Travel Guide : Yoga, Meditation, Adventure, Accommodation and Things To Do In Rishikesh, India
Situated at foothills of Garhwal Himalayan Range, with glistening holy Ganges gushing rapidly throughout its heart, Rishikesh in all sense is the definition of #incredibleIndia.
I visited Rishikesh a year back and fell absolutely in love with it. The fusion of piousness and adventure, tranquility and thrill, Hindu culture and mythology with spirituality, is bound to take any visitor’s heart away. Whether you are looking for adrenaline-pumping adventure or seeking a peaceful abode away from the usual hustle-bustle of city life, there are plenty of things to do in Rishikesh. It is one of my top recommended destinations for solo travels in India. Keep reading, and you will know why.
In this guide I have covered all the important things you will need to know for a perfect Rishikesh getaway: How to reach Rishikesh, getting around, where to stay, what to eat, Ayurvedic massages, yoga, cafes, meditation, ashrams, and perfect day trips from Rishikesh.
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Some Practical Information About Rishikesh
- Currency : Indian rupee (sign: ₹; currency code: INR)
- Language : Hindi
- State : Uttarakhand Food : Strictly Vegetarian ( No eggs either ) , No Alcohol as it is the ‘holy city.’
- Safety : Regarded as a pilgrimage destination, it is safe to travel.
- Banks/ ATMs : Due to flocks of tourists all year round, sufficient number of banks and ATM machines are available.
- Fun Fact : Rishikesh is known as ‘Yoga Capital Of The World’ & as ‘The Adventure Capital Of India.’
How to Reach Rishikesh ?
- By Air🛫: Nearest airport is Dehradun Jolly grant airport, situated 25km from here. It is a small domestic airport. Have daily flights to and from New Delhi. From the airport you can either get a prepaid airport taxi ( 900-1000 INR) or regular taxis from the main road ( 300-500 INR).
Tip ; Although Ola operates in Dehradun but aren’t very reliable. I will suggest booking a regular taxi from outside the airport.
- 2. By Train 🚆: Though Rishikesh has a railway station but running trains are very limited. Best option is to catch a train to/ from Haridwar railway-station ( around 35km from Rishikesh). You can either hire a taxi or auto rickshaw from Haridwar railway station. No need to pre book as they are easily available through-ought the day.
- 3. By Road : It is very well connected via road to important surrounding Indian cities. New delhi is 245 Km, Dehradun is 50 Km and Haridwar is 30 Km away from Rishikesh. There are regular government buses running from all these cities at a very affordable price.
Getting Around In Rishikesh?
Although it is a small town and the majority of the attractions could be easily explored on foot, renting a bicycle/scooter/motorbike would be the best option. They are extremely affordable and a few sights like Neelkantha Mahadev Temple and waterfall are located a little far from the main town. Moreover driving a two-wheeler amid in nature is an awesome experience.
There are no actual ‘shops’ to rent a vehicle but can be easily hired around Laxman Jhulla area or you can ask your hostel/hotel/guesthouse to arrange one. The average cost per day for renting a scooter is 400 INR, the bike is 300 INR and a motorbike is 600-1200 INR.
Another option is Auto-rickshaw (tuk-tuk). Very readily available throughout the city. Remember to negotiate well. Drivers have a reputation for charging an inflated price, especially if you are a foreigner.
Get Insured Before Traveling To Rishikesh
I never ever travel abroad without a travel insurance. Really !! In case something goes wrong, you must have a travel insurance. Frankly speaking, it will be stupid to head off to a new destination without one.
I will recommend World Nomads. Simply because they are backed by reputable insurers, 24-hour assistance providers and offer travel insurance to travellers from over 140 countries.
Even if you don’t get one from World Nomads, make sure to get your travel insurance sorted before you actually start traveling.
Best Time To Visit
Due to its location ( Garhwal region of Himalayas), Rishikesh is popular among tourists during summer months i.e from mid-May to July. As it acts a cool escape from blistering Indian summer.
Avoid late July to September, as these are high monsoon season. Most of the adventure activities will be shut.
Winter starts in October and lasts till February. This is my preferred season. Although it is relatively cold, it still is pleasant. Plus a limited number of tourists can add to the travel experience. Regardless in terms of weather, it is pleasant to visit Rishikesh the whole year-round.
Where To Stay In Rishikesh ?
Since Rishikesh is a popular tourist destination, you will find a variety of accommodation available. Maximum hotels, hostels, and ashrams are located near Laxman Jhulla. You can find many in other areas as well.
I stayed at Hotel EllBee Ganga View. It’s located near the trinity ghat. From the staff’s hospitality to the room’s cleanliness, there isn’t anything I didn’t like about this Hotel. Will recommend it.
If you are looking for more budget options, Rudra Hotel Yoga and Ayurveda Retreat have good reviews. There are plenty of good hostels and guesthouses as well. I have heard good things about Zostel Rishikesh and Live Free Hostel from other travellers.
Since Rishikesh is such a spiritual and holy place, there are tons of ashrams one could stay at. Most of these ashrams provide an all-inclusive package ( 2-3 meals, a bed in a private room or a dormitory, yoga, and meditation classes). They are very affordable. If you are traveling to India for the first time, ashrams are a great way to indulge yourself in days of silence, peace and simple self rejuvenation. The most popular ones are Parmarth Niketan, Sivananda Ashram, Yog Niketan, The Omkarananda Ashram and Aurovally Ashram. There are many more. Just remember to research a little and ask around to get the best deal.
How Many Days Do You Need ?
Ideally, 2-3 days are good enough to explore Rishikesh, chill around at various cafes, enjoy the laid back vibe, indulge in Ganga aarti and spiritual side, do white water river rafting and other adventure activities.
But if you plan on learning yoga, meditation and other aspects of Hinduism, you can easily spend one or more weeks here. Many solo travellers and backpackers tend to stay here for months. Well can’t blame them. It’s hard not to be enchanted by the daily vibe of this town. Imagine waking up with the Ganges, sipping tea in a cool cafe, doing yoga, taking am evening stroll and listening to live music. It’s hard to leave such a place.
What To Eat In Rishikesh ?
Being a popular tourist destination, there is a variety of Indian and ‘Indianised International’ food for you to try. South Indian, North Indian, Mexican, Chinese, middles eastern and so much more.
I was very keen on trying local Garhwali food but couldn’t find it. But I did try the famous ‘kadhi -chawal’ and ‘Rajma- Chawal’. It was delicious. There are many street vendors, selling it.
Rishikesh has a hippie side to it. Cafes and restaurants are in abundance. Great thing is, most are vegan-friendly and have plenty of healthy food options. Some of my favourites are The Beatles Cafe, Little Buddha Cafe, Cafe De Goa, Ganga View Cafe, and Shambala.
Try tulsi cigarettes, these are non-tobacco, 100% organic cigarettes, made of tulsi leaves and some other herbs. Something I had never seen before.
Best Things To Do In Rishikesh
Rishikesh is a city where divinity meets nature. There is so much to do but yet one can enjoy the holy city doing nothing. Since ancient times, many great sages, yogis, rishis, and sanyasis have come to Rishikesh in search of spiritual relief, wisdom and practice yoga. Even today thousands of visitors come every year to learn yoga, or take a dip in Holy Ganges or to explore mighty mountains and conquer the torrents of the river. Here are some of the best things to do and see in Rishikesh.
- Visit The Beatles Ashram
Well, who hasn’t heard of The Beatles, right? Well did you know Beatles had come to India, particularly Rishikesh in 1968, to learn yoga and meditation? During their visit, they stayed in an Ashram located near Swarg Ashram. Today the whole premise is under the forest department but you can still visit remaining buildings and the surrounding area.
Whether you are a fan of The Beatles or not, I think its a must-visit when in Rishikesh. Mainly because of the historic importance of this place. It is said, it was the most productive time of the band. They wrote and composed a few of there most popular songs during there stay in the ashram. Moreover, this also changed the entire world’s outlook on Indian spirituality and brought limelight to Rishikesh throughout the world of Yoga.
- Learn Yoga
You can’t visit the world’s Yoga capital and not do yoga. You can experience it in a group or a private session, attend 90 minutes class or join a week or a month-long program. But its something you must not miss when in Rishikesh.
Mainly Hatha Yoga is practiced and offered here. As you walk down the street, you will find every second building or n ashram, offering 3-4 yoga classes. Look for the sign outside them. Choices are in abundance and sometimes can be overwhelming. The Most prominent ones are Parmarth Niketan, Sivananda Ashram, Omkarananda Ganga Sadan, Yoga Niketan, Alakh Yoga School and many more.
Best would be to ask around, get recommendations once you arrive.
- Do Some Meditation
I can’t think of a better place to sit quietly, close my eyes, and form a bond with myself and nature than Rishikesh. Imagine majestic mountains, the serene Ganges flowing in the background, auspicious surroundings and comely nature. What else could you ask for?
You can take a taught meditation class. Alternatively, just sit by yourself on the banks of Ganges and become meditative.
- White Water River-Rafting
If you are an adventure junkie, this is something you must do. Especially popular among Indian tourists as it is one of the best destinations for river rafting in India.
River rafting stretch is 36 Km long starting from Kaudiyala to Lakshman Jhula and has 13 major rapids. It can cost anything from 400 to 1300 INR.
It is a fun activity throughout the year except for monsoon. Not sure but I think the activity is closed during that period. I went in January, was a little cold but had a ball of a time.
- Walk through Laxman Jhulla and Shopping
Jhulla in English means a Bridge. Laxman Jhulla probably is the postcard image of Rishikesh. It is a big iron suspension bridge over the river Ganges. According to Hindu mythology, Laxman ( brother of Lord Rama ) crossed the river through this ( then a rope bridge).
Today you can find tons of shops in the area on both sides of the bridge. You will find many interesting health and wellness products, clothes, handcrafted jewelry, bags and so much more. You can also shop for travel souvenirs here.
It is a pedestrian bridge but two-wheelers are allowed to pass through.
Tip: Go early in the morning, especially for the sunrise if you can, to get spectacular view of the river.
- Visit Trayambakeshwar Temple
Traymabakeshwar is a 13 storey Hindu temple, situated at the ghat (bank) of Ganges, near Laxman Jhulla. Traymabakeshwar means ‘The Abode Of Three-Eyed’. Hence, the temple is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva.
- Cafe and Restaurants Hoping
As I mentioned earlier, one could spend days in Rishikesh relaxing, doing nothing but chilling around at cozy cafes along the shore of river Ganga. It was probably my favorite thing I did, in my short 3 days visit. And something you definitely must do. Spend an evening having tea and delicious food at a nice cafe’, listing to relaxing music and talking to other travellers.
Check out my recommendations above for the coolest cafes and restaurants in Rishikesh.
- Ganga Aarti Ceremony
Another must-have experience when in Rishikesh. Once the sun goes down, ghats are lit up with thousands of incensed lamps, creating a magical atmosphere all around. I have not yet been to Varanasi (city considered as the spiritual capital of India), but experiencing Ganga Aarti in Rishikesh has fuelled my longing to travel.
Ganga aarti happens every evening at Parmarth Niketan and Triveni Ghat, between 6 PM – 7 PM.
If you have just a day in Rishikesh, I will suggest attending Triveni Ghat’s aarti. Spend time near Ganga, enjoy the live music, take in the breeze and let yourself free in the auspicious environment.
- Bungee Jumping
Popular among visitors, Rishikesh has the highest bungee jumping platform in India (83 meters). Though it’s not something I was keen to do, if you have a heart for it and are brave enough, you might enjoy Bungee Jumping in Rishikesh.
Hopefully, this will give you a good idea about Rishikesh! Have a wonderful time! And as I said earlier, Rishikesh is one of my favourite places I’ve visited in India, and I just can’t wait to go back …. 😀❤️️❤️️
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Tell me in a comment down below, your most favourite places you have been to or wish to go to ? Will Love to hear from you’ll…..
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