Located on the banks of the river Ganga in Uttarakhand state, Rishikesh is a uniquely charming place. Spirituality, yoga, and adventure, all harmoniously co-exist in this city. Rishikesh attracts visitors from India and all over the world throughout the year.
How to reach Rishikesh
In 2021, Rishikesh got its own railway station with the name ‘Yog Nagri Rishikesh’. There are very few trains passing through this railway station which, hopefully, would change in the future. Rishikesh is an hour’s drive away from Haridwar which is well connected with other major cities by road and railways. You can travel by train or bus to Haridwar and then take a bus/taxi to Rishikesh.
If you want to save daytime, you can travel by overnight bus from Delhi to Rishikesh. A train journey from Delhi to Haridwar would take about 5 hours. The nearest airport is in Dehradun. I traveled from Patiala to Haridwar by train. I find trains to be much more convenient than buses.
I traveled to Rishikesh twice; the first was a solo trip and the second time with a friend. Solo travel may seem daunting at first but once you get started with it, group travel doesn’t seem that interesting anymore. I hadn’t planned on traveling solo but none of my friends were able to join at that time. So it was either no travel or a solo journey. I’m glad I chose to go for a solo trip. There are many safe solo destinations in India for women that you can choose from.
Both the trips to Rishikesh were different but I enjoyed them both equally. People usually visit Rishikesh for religious/spiritual reasons or for adventure. My reason to visit Rishikesh was to spend some time away from work, change of environment, and to slow down. I booked my train tickets and looked up a place to stay. I wanted to stay a little away from the city and preferably a place run by a family. Rishikesh Valley in Tapovan was the kind of place I was looking for.
It was nestled in the hills, surrounded by lush greens and a water stream ran nearby. I loved the idea of staying in a hut-styled accommodation.
If you are looking for camping in Rishikesh, Camp Aqua Forest is the right place for you. Located in the village Ghattugad in Rishikesh, it is a great accommodation option for families, couples, and groups.
Things to do in Rishikesh
Yoga, meditation, and healing
Connect to your spiritual side while staying in Rishikesh. Even if you are not really interested, I’d suggest you try it once. Many ashrams and yoga centers offer programs and sessions that you can join at any time. Yoga Teacher Training courses are also offered at many Yoga centers in Rishikesh.
Some of these yoga courses and retreats are expensive, elaborate, and need pre-registration while some are affordable and short-term. Before you dismiss something as not for me, give it a fair chance. I’m happy that I did and it has become a part of my life now.
Be it any season, adventurous souls keep coming back to Rishikesh for that adrenaline rush. You can do river rafting, bungee jumping, zip-lining, camping, trekking, etc in Rishikesh. I’m not much of an adventurer but I did try zip-lining and enjoyed every moment of it. I chose to go for a short trek near the place I was staying. On the way, I discovered an old wooden bridge and a seasonal waterfall in the area.
Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat
I had heard that a trip to Rishikesh is incomplete without Ganga aarti. That is true indeed. You’d see hundreds of people, locals and tourists, gathered for witnessing this ceremony. It starts around 6 in the evening.
Spending the evening on the banks of the holy river amidst the spiritual vibes, fragrance of incense, the sound of bells and chants altogether transported me to some other realm. It was an overpowering feeling that made everything else insignificant and I was just in the moment. It is an experience not to be missed. Another amazing aarti experience would be at Varanasi.
Spend some peaceful time on the banks of river Ganga
With the help of the locals, you can find some spots along the banks of river Ganga where you can sit peacefully and spend some time alone. I loved doing this during my stay in Rishikesh. Nearby my stay was a tranquil place where a stream of water flowed. I spent an evening sitting there with my feet soaked in the cool water, listening to the sounds of birds and water. I felt completely engulfed in peace and harmony.
Walk on Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula
Pictures with either of these two suspension bridges would pop up if you search online for Rishikesh images. They are quite narrow and usually busy with lots of people crossing over or clicking pictures. I had visited both of these during a family decades ago; didn’t feel like visiting again because of the crowd.
With lots of foreigners frequenting this city and staying for a long period of time, many cafes have popped up at various places in Rishikesh. Rishikesh is a holy city so you won’t find meat-based food or alcohol here. There is a plethora of restaurants and cafes serving vegetarian and vegan food that you must try.
Often people working remotely/online visit these places to get their work done in peace and also spend some good time. The Little Budha Cafe, The ‘60s Cafe, and Sitting Elephant are some of the cafes I’d recommend. There are places with beautiful outdoor sitting areas and delicious food at amazing prices. Another thing that you must do when in Rishikesh.
The Beatles Ashram
An old abandoned place now, which was put on the map because of a visit by the Beatles in the ’60s. It is said that this place and their experience here were the inspiration behind some of their songs. If you are a Beatles fan then you would like to visit this place otherwise with the entrance fee of INR 150 for Indians and INR 600 for foreigners, it may seem like a rip-off.
Like many other historical places in India, the entry fee for foreigners is more than that for the Indians. Earlier there was no entry fee for this place but since it has come under the protection of Rajaji Tiger Reserve, an entry fee has been imposed.
You can spend time just wandering around, looking at the interesting graffiti and dilapidated structures. I haven’t been to this place yet but hoping to visit it sometime in the future with my husband who is a huge Beatles fan.
Rishikesh being a holy city has no dearth of temples and sacred places. If you have an interest in Indian culture or in Hinduism, you can visit some of the temples located in Rishikesh. Just beware if someone follows you telling you to perform a ritual or pooja. It is not compulsory to make an offering/donation at a temple or ghats etc; it is up to you. Here’s your complete guide to temple etiquette in India.
Shop for some souvenirs
For many people shopping and buying souvenirs is an important part of the trip. You can find many such things to buy like handicrafts, clothes, decor items, etc to buy. Scorpion Handicrafts in Tapovan is one of the popular choices among tourists for shopping.
Rishikesh also serves as a stop-over or starting point for the valley of flowers trek and pilgrimage to Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara. A visit to Rishikesh always makes me feel closer to myself. If you haven’t put it on your travel list yet, do it now!