Rishikesh (from Hrishikesh, another name for Lord Vishnu) is a holy city for Hindus located in the foothills of the Himalaya in northern India. Rishikesh also translates to mean - He who has conquered his senses (Sanskrit: Rishik + Ish). It is also known as the gateway to Himalayas and is considered an access point for the cities that form the Char Dham - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.
The sacred river Ganga flows through Rishikesh. In fact, it is here that the river leaves the Shivalik mountains Himalayas, and flows out into the plains of northern India. Several temples, ancient as well as new, can be found along the banks of the river in Hrishikesh. The city attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists each year, from within India, as well as from other countries. Rishikesh, sometimes nicknamed "the world-capital of Yoga", has several yoga centres that also attract tourists, including the Iyengar Yoga Center called Patanjala Yoga Center. It is believed that meditation in Hrishikesh brings one closer to attainment of salvation, or moksha, as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it.
It is said that Bharata, the brother of Lord Rama, did severe penance here. A temple of Bharata was constructed at this site, and the town of Rishikesh grew up around it. The town got its name when Raibhya Rishi performed tapasya (austerities) here. Lord Hrishikesh (another name for Lord Vishnu) came before him and granted him darshan. Lord Vishnu is said to have killed the two demons Madhu and Kaitabha here.
Rishikesh is an exciting destination that is dotted with a number of temples and ashrams. Rishikesh is surrounded by the verdant forest and river Ganges flow through the town. Rishikesh has a number of tourist places that one can visit. Since Rishikesh is known as a pilgrimage center, religious places form a major chunk of tourist attractions in Rishikesh.
Triveni Ghat is a popular place in Rishikesh. Many people take a dip at the ghat before visiting temples in Rishikesh. Lakshman Jhula is an important landmark in Rishikesh. Lakshman Jhula is basically a hanging bridge on the Ganges and the most popular spot in Rishikesh. Legend has it that Lakshman, the younger brother of lord Rama crossed the river using a hanging bridge made of jute. Ram Jhula is another famous place in Rishikesh where you can visit.
The Aarti on the banks of the Ganges is what you should not miss on your tour to Rishikesh. The floating diyas (earthen lamps) present a wonderful view in the evening. The hymns and sound of bells creates a symphony of sorts during Aarti.
Rishikesh is the gateway to Chardhams of Uttaranchal. You can take a tour of the Chardham of Uttaranchal from Rishikesh. Rajaji National Park at Chila is another place that you can visit from Rishikesh.
Adventure sports are what you can enjoy in Rishikesh. Rishikesh is popular for rock climbing, river rafting and trekking. There are a number of popular spots around Rishikesh, where you can enjoy these sports. Shivpuri is an excellent point from where you can raft down on the river Ganges.
For those who are interested in yoga and meditation, Rishikesh is the best place to take some lessons on these two ancient Indian disciplines. As there are a number of ashrams and yoga centers that provides lessons on yoga and meditation in Rishikesh.
By plane :
Rishikesh is in close proximity of Dehradun's Jolly Grant Airport (about 15 kms) - a small, quiet airport handling 1-2 commercial flights a day, and a few chartered flights.
By train :
A quiet branch line connects Rishikesh to Haridwar, but there are only about three slow trains daily. It's best to take the train to Haridwar and continue by bus (45 min, 17 Rs).
By bus :
From Delhi the city is about 230 km away and is well connected with buses. A Bus journey may take about 5-7 hours - depending on the traffic - and costs you about 130-350 INR. An AC Bus will cost about 200-500 INR.
Auto-rickshaws (vikrams) are useful from the bus/train stations to get to either of the bridges (Rs 8) and for the southern side of the Ganges. Swargashram is pretty much pedestrian only, but it's compact and walkable (as is the whole of the town). For other autorickshaw journeys you should expect to pay around Rs 15/km.
Rishikesh is one the holy cities of India, the hatha yoga capital of the world, a totally vegetarian town. It's about a 6 hours ride from Delhi, and Rishikesh is also a major gateway to the Himalayas. About 26 Kms from Haridwar. Located in the laps of lower Himalayas, and is surrounded by scenic beauty of the hills on three sides with Holy Ganga flowing through it.The pace in Rishikesh is much more melllow than Delhi, and you will enjoy walking about town undisturbed by touts and hawkers The whole place is considered to be sacred as it is believed that meditation at this place leads to attainment of salvation.
Rishikesh has a number of hotels and tourist lodges that are well equipped with all the modern facilities. The hotels in Rishikesh vary from excellent hotels to budget and economy hotels. Woolen cloths are essential if you are traveling to Rishikesh during winter months.
Rishikesh has a population of 59,671. Males constitute 56% of the population and females 44%. Rishikesh has an average literacy rate of 75%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 80%, and female literacy is 68%. In Rishikesh, 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.