The holy town of Rishikesh has the eminence of being the International capital of Yoga and meditation. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas on the banks of the River Ganges, Rishikesh is dotted with a number of ancient temples, ashrams and world renowned yoga and meditation centres. Not only devotees, but travellers from all parts of the world flock to the sacred town for a deeper understanding of meditation. At the ashrams in Rishikesh, visitors can attend lectures and courses offered by celebrated yoga and meditation experts. Apart from Hindu shrines, the town of Rishikesh also invites adventure lovers from all around. It is also the ideal gateway for a pilgrim’s chardham yatra, that includes travelling to Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath.
PLACES TO VISIT
If you are travelling to Rishikesh between the months of September and November or between March and May, river rafting is a great option to quench your thirst for adventure. River Ganga offers excellent stretches and white water rapids in Rishikesh. Kaudiyala-Rishikesh is a popular rafting route. Whether you are beginner in the sport of river rafting or are an adrenaline junkie, river rafting in Rishikesh suits all abilities
Ashrams are a major crowd-puller in Rishikesh. These ashrams offer regular courses and classes on spiritual disciplines like yoga and meditation as well as Ayurveda. Accommodation facilities are also available for tourists and pilgrims arriving at the ashrams. Popular ashrams in Rishikesh include Gita Ashram (set up in the 1950s), Swarg Ashram (one of the oldest in the town) and Shivananda Ashram (which houses the Divine Life Society, founded by Swami Shivanand in 1936).
Established back in the 12th century, the Bharat Temple happens to be the oldest in Rishikesh. The temple stands in dedication to Bharat, the younger brother of Rama (hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana). Though the original temple structure was destroyed in an invasion by Temur in 1398, the temple still preserves a number of Hindu relics. The inner sanctum of the Bharat Mandir enshrines the idol of Lord Vishnu. The temple stands close to the Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh.
The most popular bathing ghat in Rishikesh, the Triveni Ghat is the point where River Ganges takes a complete right angle turn. Hindus also believe that it is here that the three holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati converge. Every morning, scores of pilgrims and devotees can be seen here taking a holy dip in the divine waters of the Ganga. In the evening, the sight at the ghat is simply heart stirring. Vedic chants, to the accompaniment of drums and bells, can be heard all around and a spiritual aura surrounds the whole place. Tiny oil lamps on bedecked leaf boats floating on the Ganges add much charm to the whole atmosphere.
The place (or the bridge) is equally popular with devotees and tourists. It remains suspended 3 km north of Rishikesh town. It attracts most visitors due to the fact that it lies just close to the popular ashrams – Geeta Bhawan and Swarg Ashram. Visitors cannot afford to miss the enchanting evening prayer (which lasts for 30 minutes) at the Geeta Bhawan’s ghat. Food lovers can head straight to the 50-year-old and the very famous Chotiwala Restaurant, located in Ram Jhula