Rishikesh in Uttarakhand India is a famous religious city and a blooming tourism hub. It is also known as the Yoga Capital of the World.
Rishikesh has a large number of ashrams and yoga centres. They provide training in meditation, and help healing of mental and physical health.
Legends say that it was here in Rishikesh where Lord Bharat of Ramayana epic did severe penance for the well being of his elder brother Lord Rama.
Another legend says that Rishikesh was named after Raibhya Rishi who performed severe penance to please Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu then appeared in the form of sage Hrishikesh ( one who could control all 6 senses ) and blessed Raibhya Rishi.
This holy town of Rishikesh is also known as the City Of Saints as they come here from all over India to practice Yoga and live a renounced life.
Rishikesh lies in the Dehradun district of Uttarakhand. It spreads over 11.5 sq km at an altitude of approx 357 meters from sea level. It is surrounded by the Shivalik Ranges on one side and Haridwar and Dehradun on the other. Rishikesh is surrounded by dense Sal and mixed forest.
The population of Dehradun according to the 2011 census was 16,98,560 in which Rishikesh city has 70,499 out of which 38,065 are males and 32,434 females with a sex ratio of 852 female per 1000 male. The literacy rate of is about 87 percent. Hindus form the majority of people in Mussoorie and Hindi and Garhwali and the major languages spoken by the people. Other languages spoken in the region are Kumaoni, Punjabi and English. People of all religion live together in peace and close harmony with each other.
Almost all Hindu festivals are celebrated here in Mussoorie. As Garhwali form the most of Rishikesh the most celebrated festivals are Khichide Shankranti, Basant Panchami, Holi, Diwali, Shivratri, Vijayadhasmi and Rakshabandhan. They are organized with full joys as per Hindu traditions and foreigners also enjoy being a part of the same.
Mussoorie is around 240 km from Delhi, 25 km from Haridwar and 55kms from Dehradun city. The city is divided into 20 small sub areas known as wards like The Tapovan, Sadanand Nagar, Pashulok, Shyampur, Dhalwala and so on.
Rishikesh has an an extreme climate so summers are hot and winters cold. Rishikesh does not receive any snowfall. Rishikesh can be visited any time of the year.
Rishikesh is at the confluence of the Chandrabhaga and Ganga rivers. It is the starting point for the Char Dham pilgrims. It is one of the most popular pilgrim centres and gateway to the Himalayan Shrines of Badrinath , Kedarnath , Gangotri and Yamunotri. From Rishikesh, the great Ganges leaves behind her mountain home and enters the vast plains of Northern India.
Rishikesh is one of the top 10 destinations for travel in the world. It is a heaven of both the spiritual and adventure seekers.
It is a vegetarian and alcohol free city by law and the state government has also recently banned the complete use of polythene in Rishikesh..
Rishikesh is in all a complete stock house of tourism goodies starting from the spiritual, palmistry, yoga, tantrik classes, yoga, wellness massages, nature treks to adventure sports such as white water rafting, rappelling, mountain diving etc.. with world class facilities for all kinds of tourists.
Rishikesh has a favourable climate throughout the year and can be visited all the year round.
Triveni Ghat This scared bathing gath on the banks of the Ganga is on the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the Saraswati rivers. Everyday around hundreds of devotee take their bath here and enjoy the Maha Arti in the evening.It is a small holy ceremony performed on the banks of the river Ganga. Bhajans and prayers are offered to Goddess Ganga and lamps or diyas are floated in the river. It is a very spiritual affair filled with divinity in the air.
Bharat Temple This is an oldest temple in Rishikesh and is dedicated to Lord Bharat the younger brother of Lord Rama. It is believed that about 108 Parikramas of this temple is equivalent to the Badrinath Yatra.
Shatrugana Temple ( 5 kms ) from the Triveni Ghat. This temple is dedicated to Lord Bharat the younger brother of Lord Rama.
35 kms from Rishikesh via Barrage and 22 kms via Ram Jhoola , is the Neelkhant Mahadev Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Legend says that it was here that Lord Shiva consumed the venom, which emanated during the 'Samudra Manthan'. Due to this , his throat became blue in colour , thus giving Shiva the name of Neelkanth.
A 12 kms trek leads to the Neelkhant Mahadev Temple. The trek road is surrounded by dense forests, and the location is awesome. Accommodation is available at the Irrigation & Forest Rest Houses.
Trimbakeshwar temple or the Kailesh Niketan temple is the main thirteen storey temple at Laxman Jhoola and one can see the sculptures of all Gods and Goddesses in this huge temple. On the other side of the temple is a another huge 12 storey Swarg Nivas temple also dedicated to all the hindu gods and goddess.
Parmarth Niketan Ashram is located nearby Swarg Ashram area lies near the river Ganga. The ashram provides the Gurukul form of education. Parmarth Niketan Ashram hosts the International Yoga Festival every year in Rishikesh. The Ashram is well known for Yoga and Meditation studies.
The Beatles Ashram or the Maharishi Ashram or Chaurasi (84) Kutir in Rishikesh, was once visited by The Beatles to learn transcendental meditation, has reopened as an eco-tourism destination. The ashram is located inside the Rajaji National Park .
The painted walls with pop art and beautiful black-and-white portraits of The Beatles by Canadian artist Pan Trinity Das are the highlights of the ashram. It had an incredible atmosphere and can be used for nature walks and bird watching too. Entry fees is around 150 for Indians and 600 for foreigners.
Rishikesh being a yoga capital of the world, Uttarakhand Govt has decided to host a Yoga Mahakumbh festival and promotion of Yoga in the surrounding hill districts of Rudraprayag, Tehri, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh and Jageshwar.
Yoga and wellness centres will be developed to attract tourists and Yoga centres will also be developed in about 150 schools of Rishikesh and Jageshwar.
The Yoga Centres here in Rishikesh are flocked by tourists who are interested in Yoga. Some of the centres and ashrams here also provide a Yoga Teachers Training and give out certificates on successful completion of the program. International Yoga Week attracts thousands of tourists from across the world, is held here, every year, in February on the banks of the Ganga.
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Rishikesh has a number of small beaches. Some of these beaches are safe while some are potentially dangerous. Lots of foreigners and Indian tourist come to these beaches here for camping and other adventure sports.
Some of these beaches are compared to the beaches of Goa. Goa beach is one of such beach in Rishikesh.
There is a ban on beach camping by the NGT ( National Green Tribunal ). It has raised some worries of the large number of rafting camps, which include disturbance to wildlife, pollution caused due to waste junked by rafters, open defecation on the river bed, trees cut to make way for construction of camps, levelling of the river bed and much more. The ban is now extended till Mar 2016.
It is also the centre point for starting trekking expeditions to the Himalayan peaks and adventure sport such as white water rafting in Rishikesh and bungee jumping. Many other adventure sports such as mountain biking, cliff jumping, rappelling, high altitude swinging and flying fox can also be found in Rishikesh.
The adventure sport centres are well managed by experts but they have their own risk as well safety norms and age restrictions. Please ensure all the precautions before enrolling in the same.
Apart from Yoga, people from all over the world come to learn the Hindu philosophy and other aspects of Hinduism. Foreigner show keen interest in the simple Hindu way of living and make a point to follow it..
People also show a keen interest in meditation practices such as the TM, Buddha meditation and so on. Ayurveda the ancient medicinal science of India is also taught and practiced here in many centres and ashrams in Rishikesh.
If you are interested in Indian music you can listen or learn to play some of them here in the Vina Maharaj Music School in Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is a well commercialized area and has lots of shopping areas. If you are looking for some kind of particular shopping such as shawls, astrological gems, Ayurvedic medicines and books you can find them from Tapovan ( lakshman-jhula ) till Ramjhula.
There are also a lot of restaurant which cater to Punjabi, South Indian, Tibetan, Continental food and can take care of all your fooding needs.
Image courtesy - Mamta Panwar
Image courtesy - indian Temple photo blogspot