Also called the yoga capital of the world, the city is located in the foothills of the Himalaya, is a gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas. It is a holy city and a site for pilgrimage for the Hindus and due to this Alcohol and Meat are banned by the government here; it is also visited by the tourists as it is a beautiful hill station where the River Ganga flows from the Shivalik hills to the northern parts of India. The city is surrounded by three districts namely, Haridwar (another most visited Hindu pilgrimage site), Tehri Garhwal and the Pauri Garhwal. In Rishikesh you can enjoy different adventure sports from the River rafting in the River Ganga to Bungee jumping, Kayaking, rock climbing and much more.
History of Rishikesh
Rishikesh is the place where Yoga was invented, in the ancient times the sages from different parts of Asia came here to meditate and they were the ones who spread the art of Yoga. The name Rishikesh is a combination of two words Hrishika meaning senses and Isha meaning Lord. Hence, the name means ‘lord of the senses’ and the name is believed to be of Lord Vishnu. The city is a part of the Kedarkhanda and according to the Hindu mythology Lord Rama did penance here after killing the King of evils, Ravana.
Tourist Attractions in Rishikesh
Nature has blessed Rishikesh with breath-taking landscapes. The city is a settlement in the lap of Himalayas and hence is a hilly area with River Ganga flowing through it. Among there are many attractions in Rishikesh the popular ones are-
Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat
The Triveni Ghat is a bank which is the meeting point of three rivers of India viz Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Every morning and evening, the Maha Aarti is performed at the ghat. The tranquil waters of the river at the beautiful site of the Triveni Ghat are very calming and people enjoy sitting at the bank enjoying the cool breeze coming from the river.
The suspension bridge is a famous landmark of Rishikesh which is 450 feet long and is built with iron. The bridge is built over River Ganga and further a smaller bridge follows named Ram Jhula. The epic has that the Hindu god Lakshmana crossed River Ganga at this spot from a bridge made of Bamboos and later the suspension bridge was built in 1929.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
This temple is one of the major pilgrimage sites of the Hindus and a lot of visitors come to visit the temple during Mahashivratri. Located at a distance of 32 kilometers from the main city, the Neelkantha Mahadev Temple is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva. The temple has a beautiful Shikhara which is decorated with the colored sculptures from the Samundra Manthan incident of the Hindu mythology. The view of the Himalayas from this site is very enchanting and adorable.
The city is also home to many yoga centers and the oldest of them being the Kailash Ashram Brahmvidyapeetham which is 133 years old is the most famous. It is believed that meditating in Rishikesh brings one closer to the attainment of salvation.
Maharishi Mahesha Ashram
The yoga centers are a tourist attraction, one of them is the Maharishi Mahesha Ashram where John Lennon recorded ‘the happy Rishikesh song’, and the Beatles visited this Ashram and recorded several songs of the white album. This Ashram is also popular with the name of ‘Beatles Ashram’.
Languages Spoken in Rishikesh
The mother tongue of the locals in Rishikesh is Garhwali language. However, there are many who converse in Hindi and English.
Cuisines of Rishikesh
Rishikesh lies in the Uttarakhand state of India which was a part of Uttar Pradesh; hence, the food has influence of Uttar Pradesh. In Rishikesh a variety of vegetarian dishes are available, out of which Stuffed Samosas with stuffing of different types like chocolate, apples, etc are worth trying. Masala Chai is yet another specialty of Rishikesh and you must try the hot noodles and Momos when travelling here.
Famous Festivals in Rishikesh
The festivals that are celebrated with great enthusiasm in Rishikesh are Holi, Diwali, Basant Panchami, International Yoga Festival, Science Festival and the Beatles Festival.
Climate in Rishikesh
Rishikesh generally has pleasant weather throughout the year. The weather is never extreme during summers and winters. The best time to visit is from the month of March to May.