Places to see
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The first suspension bridge over the Ganges was a rope. In 1927, the British government built a steel suspension bridge in Lakshmandzhula. There are souvenir markets, mostly religious on both banks of the bridge. It is recommended to buy rudraksha beads (the smaller seeds in beads, the more expensive rudraksha). On the west bank just above the bridge is a book store with a wide selection of books on meditation, yoga, Ayurveda, Buddhism and so on., and German Bakery, cafe and shop of European baking. On the east bank there is 13-storey tower of the temple Trayambakeshvar. On this tower you can climb to assess views of the river, and the images of the many Indian deities.
New bridge Ramdzhula threw a 2-km downstream. It is also the center of trade and catering, on the west bank near the bridge is the main parking for rickshaws. From here you can go to Lakshmanzhula, up a mountain road, or down – “in Rishikesh,” that is in the Indian business part of the city where foreigners rarely wander. You can name Ramdzhula bridge as a landmark for taxi drivers, when you first came to town, and landed at the bus station. On the east bank to the right of the bridge begins Svargashram area, named for the largest ashram, along which there is a promenade. If you do not want to walk across the bridge over the Ganges on foot – you can get to the opposite shore by boat, which runs every 10-20 minutes.
You can make a pleasant walk, if go along the bridge Ramdzhula to the east coast upstream to Lakshmandzhule. Narrow street along the river goes to the old district of Rishikesh-populated by sannyasins. This place is still like a village. Here you may see ashrams with gardens and ‘houses’ of ascetics. From here you can go to the beautiful and very clean beaches on the Ganges’ coast. Keep in mind that women are not allowed to sunbathe and swim, only in clothing. Water in the river is quite cold most of the year.
Triveni Ghat – a wide promenade, adorned with the sculpted images of gods, and it is a favorite resting place of the Hindus. Foreigners rarely go here, because the Triveni Ghat is located away from their core dislocations in Lakshmanzhule and Svargashrame. If you want to get to the ghat, you have to take a rickshaw to the bridge Ramdzhula and go “in Rishikesh.” Tuk-tuk will drop you at the crossroads, patterned arch denotes the entrance to the street leading to the ghat. Here is the Indian market of purely consumer goods and ritual supplies. Every evening at Triveni Ghat takes place a beautiful ceremony Ganga Aarti. This is the perfect place for relaxation and meditation, as on the opposite bank of the Ganges there isn’t city, you can admire the mountains and jungle.
The most interesting temple of Rishikesh is Nilkanth Mahadev Mandir, located high on the mountain. It would be easier to get there by taxi, which goes on the mountain road for over an hour. Your patience will be rewarded: on top opens the beautiful view of the Ganges and Rishikesh. The road goes on reserve, where there are signs warning of the possibility of a meeting with the wild elephants. You will pass the prehistoric village of Buffalo People, which is not recommended to stop, because the way of life of these mountain people severely affected by the intervention of civilization. Before entering the temple you should buy a plate of offerings to deity, then you will start up in the sanctuary. Especially impressive is a huge old tree, around which the temple was built. Shoes should be removed beforehand, and wash the feet in cold water source. In winter, it can become a challenge for the pilgrims. On the roof of the church multi-figure composition depicting gods churn the oceans with snake Vasuki, and Shiva drinking poison to save mankind. (Nilkant, “blue neck” – an epithet of Shiva, whose throat turned blue from the poison.) You can descend from the temple on foot (about 2 hours of walking through the jungle), then you go to the river near the “Beatles Ashram.”
People call so the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, that is dormant now. When Swami went to America, the ashram came to the state, and has been preserved. Now people say that the place is cursed, but the most likely reason that the ashram is empty – economic. It is huge territory and the restoration will need too much money. Even overgrown jungle, ashram impress by its layout and luxury design, and you can imagine how beautiful it was in the time of “The Beatles.” However, many find that the desolation rather contributes meditative atmosphere.
It’s a place, which you must-see.
After going 5 km on the way up from the temple Trayambakeshvar, you will find a small dhaba with tea and samosas, built specifically for those who are going to look at the waterfall. In the right side of the jungles you may see the waterfall, there are actually two, and they are not very big, but beautiful. There is also particularly interesting cave with mineralized walls and ceiling near one of the waterfalls. Further on this road is the ashram Phul Chatti, next to it is a very nice beach for swimming.
Rishikesh is a beautiful city, which is situated at the foot of the Himalayas, on the bank of the Ganges, 25 km away from Haridwar.
Both cities are considered to be sacred and receive thousands of pilgrims, but Rishikesh is especially popular among foreigners. It is called “the world capital of yoga.” “The Beatles” came to the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yoga in Rishikesh in the mid 60’s. So, the city became very fashionable. Rishikesh quickly developed tourist infrastructure, and now it is one of the most popular foreign destinations in India.
Rishikesh population is about 90 thousand people, mostly speaking Garhwali mountain dialect.
It is the starting point of the pilgrimage routes to the shrines Garhvalskih Himalayas. Full pilgrimage route (tirtha Yatra) is called chardham, it includes four shrines: Yamunotri – the source of the Yamuna, Gangotri – the source of the Ganges, Kedarnath and Badrinath, are Garhval places of stay of Shiva and Vishnu, respectively, and are located near the sources of the rivers Mandakini and Alakananda, flowing into the Ganges.
Rhythms and emotions of Rishikesh are ruled by Ganges. It flows from the north (from the mountains) to the south (on the plains). The river is cold and clear, many foreigners are dipped together with the Indian pilgrims. The eastern coast of the city is closed to cars for the sake of peace inhabitants ashrams.
Rishikesh has been a part of the legendary “Kedarkhand (nowadays Garhwal). Legends claim that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, and Lakshmana, his younger brother, crossed the river Ganges, at a point where a “Lakshman Jhula bridge stands today, using a jute rope bridge. The ‘Kedar Khand’ of Skanda Purana, also mentions the existence of Indrakund at this very moment. Jute rope bridge was replaced by iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889, and after it was washed away in a flood in 1924, it was replaced by stronger present bridge.
The sacred river Ganges flows through Rishikesh. This is where the river leaves the Shivalik mountains in the Himalayas and flows out the plains of Northern India. Several temples, ancient and new, can be found on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh. This city is considered by Hindus to be a holy city and is vegetarian by law.