Rishikesh Travel Guide
From serene mountains to holy rivers to pristine sands by the riverbanks, Rishikesh is a pure blend of adventure with spirituality. Surrounded by a unique divine aura, dip into the holy waters of the Ganga or stroll down the spiritual lanes of Beatle Ashram, and you are sure to find the peace you’ve been looking for so far. You may even take the road less taken and find some hidden gems in the heart of the Himalayas.
Rishikesh is a land full of wonders and surprises at every corner of the city. From cute cafes, and tranquil riverbanks, to tall-standing cliffs and waterfalls and divine evening ‘Aartis’ by the Ghaat, you’ll not find a shortage of activities to enjoy.
Take A trip To The Beatles Ashram
The Beatles Ashram is one of the most famous places to visit in Rishikesh and almost everyone who plans a tour to Rishikesh has this on their bucket list. Interestingly, the temple is there for a long time but it’s in the limelight only recently after the famous band Beatles visited. In fact, the temple is not a restored or renovated one like many other famous Asian temples. The temple became famous after the Beatles’ stay here and their claim of writing one of their best pieces after a peaceful meditation session here, which is definitely not surprising if you visit once. Only a few things have changed like some recently added urban murals that are quite photogenic and touristy.
Experience an Aarti Ceremony in The Evening at The Triveni Ghat
One of the most divine experiences you can have in Rishikesh besides indulging in meditation and yoga sessions is experiencing the magnificent evening aarti at Triveni Ghat. This is undoubtedly something you don’t wanna miss out on. In fact, we are sure you’ll come back every evening. The Ghat packs hundreds and thousands of locals and tourists every evening who flock together to watch the mesmerizing ‘Sandhyaarti’. The ambience that you see cannot be found elsewhere in India. Experiencing an Aarti at Triveni Ghat is on the basket list of many travellers who come to India wanting to explore the local culture. You can also take part in it by offering some flowers or ‘diya’ to the holy Ganga.
Indulge In Some Wholesome Yoga Session
A trip to Rishikesh can never be complete without a wholesome yoga session which is considered to be an important aspect of spirituality. You can either find out a peaceful place by the side of the riverbanks to enjoy some alone time doing yoga. You can also join a class of fellow yogic practitioners and learn the art more accurately from an experienced trainer, such schools are all over the place. But if you plan on it, it’s best to get associated with some accredited schools that can help you get a valuable yoga training certificate while you enjoy your vacation. And if you really like one class, there are many schools that offer yoga teacher training courses which is even more valuable.
Go River Rafting
River rafting through the pristine waters of Rishikesh flowing through the foothills of the Himalayas is really worth experiencing once. There are two kinds of river rafting experiences that you can look for - one which is a bit more fast-paced and adventurous and the other one which is more slow-paced so that you can enjoy nature, flowing steadily through the cool breeze. Although it depends from person to person, soft rafting is mostly recommended as the water current is less strong to cause any fatalities and overall it is an amazing experience. Most hotels and resorts have arrangements for rafting packages
Catch A Sunrise At The Kunjapuri Devi Mandir Temple
Getting to experience a blissful sunrise in the spiritual capital of India cannot be anything less than a blessing! Most hotels and resorts have arrangements to reach the temple which is at a higher altitude with a concrete platform where people gather to catch sunrise before 4 AM in the morning. If the sky is clear, you are bound to get some gorgeous glimpses of the sunrise. Afterwards, you can climb down and visit the temple for a quick prayer and indulge in some authentic Indian food on your way back.
Trekking To Neer Garh Waterfall
Another hidden gem of Rishikesh although not so hidden anymore, the place is nothing short of mesmerizing. The trio of waterfall is located on the road down from the Kunjapuri Devi Temple and is a sight to experience. You can either trek to the location from the temple or easily catch a ride from the city. Entry to the waterfall is free and it takes approximately 1.5 hours from the city to trek there. If you want to rent a scooty, it costs an average of 300 INR a day.
Laxman Jhula Bridge And Patna Waterfall
This is a hanging bridge connecting two foothills of the mountain that offers a panoramic view of the Himalayas with the mighty river flowing beneath. If you are to ever visit Rishikesh, this is a must-visit site to see. Also, while you’re there, don’t forget to catch a glimpse of the Patna Waterfall which is only a 10-minutes drive from the bridge. The bridge is located in a major tourist area and is almost always habited by tourists.
You can either stay around the Laxman Jhula bridge area which is the major tourist area of Rishikesh or wish to stay at the local heart which is calmer and a 30-minutes drive away from the bridge area. Either way, you get plenty of options to choose from whether you want a villa, resort, hotel, hostel, dormitory, ashram, and more. Tourist areas are the most crowded and if you are looking for a more peaceful stay to spend some alone time in solitude, hotels away from city centres might be the best for you. You can also book an ashram to stay in as there are several ashrams in Rishikesh that lodge tourists
- Seventh Heaven Inn Rishikesh
- Holy water Hotel by Ganga Kinare
- Sterling Palm Bliss
- Sanskriti Vedic Retreat
- The Vilana
- Neer Ganga Resorts
- Live Free Hostel Rishikesh
- Green View by Green Tree Hotels
- Hotel Ganga Ashoka Rishikesh
- Hotel Ishan - A Riverside Retreat
- Bunk Stay Co-Working Hostel
- Kunwar Residency
- Hotel The Great Ganga
- Aloha- the Ganga Bliss
Places to Eat and Drink
Rishikesh is a dream come true for food junkies! If you are wanting to explore real authentic Indian taste, you are at the right place. You will find numerous North and South Indian joints all around the city offering delicious Indian preparations. If you are craving some junk food or chaats too, you will find plenty of carts. There are numerous beautifully-decorated cafes all over the place that will also make for your perfect Instagram photos! Here are some of the popular food joints to try out while you are in Rishikesh -
- Mamata Restaurant
- Rajasthani Restaurant
- Madras Hotel
- The Sitting Elephant (rooftop)
- Honey Hut Cafe
- Shivani’s Cafe
- Cafe Amrit Ganga
- Ganga View Cafe
- Ira’s Kitchen and Tea Room
- Rise and Shine Vegan food
- Oasis Cafe by Salvus
- JAL JALEBI & Beyond
- Las Brisas
- Chatsang Cafe
- Free Spirit Cafe
Best Time to Visit
Owing to the amazing weather and lower incidences of natural disasters compared to other Himalayan tourist destinations in India, Rishikesh is a perfect tourist destination all around the year. You get to experience different seasons, weather, and natural beauties in different months of the year. While the winters are chilly, the summers are pleasant and comfortable.
How To Reach Rishikesh
You can reach Rishikesh by bus, train, and air.
By bus route: The bus station in Rishikesh is only a few minutes away from the city centre so it is an ideal route if you stay in the nearby states. You can get overnight and non-stop buses from Dharamshala, Delhi, and many other cities surrounding Rishikesh.
By train: There is no railway station in the city of Rishikesh but the closest one is in Haridwar which is an hour’s journey from Rishikesh by cab. You can find cabs all around Haridwar that go to Rishikesh. So, even if you are planning a few night’s stays at Haridwar, you can book a cab to Rishikesh by talking to your hotel reception - mostly they have all contacts.
By air: if you are rather not a fan of the overnight bus journeys, Dehradun Airport is the closest domestic airport which is situated 40 minutes away from Rishikesh by road. Ford international travellers, Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport will be the nearest one for you at around 250km by road, from where you can either take a cab or book another connecting flight to Dehradun Airport.
Things To Keep in Mind
Now that you are ready to pack your things, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Rishikesh is situated at a higher altitude and sees chilly weather almost all around the year which is why it is important to pack winter clothes. That being said, don’t forget your pretty summer dresses as Rishikesh also offers cool summers.
- Whenever entering any shrine or temple in Rishikesh (or any part of India), the best practice is to always remove your shoes outside. It is considered to be a major Hindu tradition to not walk with shoes inside the temples. You may keep your socks on depending on the temple’s rules. In some places, you may also be asked to leave your leather belongings like wallet, purses, or belts and lock them in a rental cabinet outside the entrance.
- Hiring a scooter for a day is the best option if you have planned your day early and know you need to travel a bit within the city.
- Driving on the hilly roads is not recommended, it is always best to hire a cab or driver who has experience in that. Riding a bike inside the city area is not too dangerous.
- Although Rishikesh is a safe place to travel to, it is best to not venture out too late at night, especially in the forest areas.
- It’s best to hire a tour guide if you are a first-time visitor.
- Always carry some cash on you as online modes of payment, cards, etc might not be accepted everywhere, especially by small vendors.