Rishikesh, India - accommodation, places, food, reviews, photos
Rishikesh is a small town in the northern state of Uttarakhand in India, picturesquely located where the Ganges River flows down from the Himalayan Mountains. If you are tired of fast life and want to spend a few days in a peaceful atmosphere, Rishikesh is one of the best places in all of India.
Rishikesh has three amazing features: the beautiful Ganges River, the Himalayan Mountains and the jungle of Rajaji National Park. Rishikesh is the ideal base camp for exploring the grandeur of the mountains and conquering the Ganges River, and it has become the center of yoga and the "Indian Mecca" for pilgrims. Rishikesh constantly inspires and helps people who seek peace and a stress-free life.
The main places to visit are not located in the center of the city, but are concentrated on the outskirts. The heart of Rishikesh is the two suspended pedestrian bridges Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula. This is where all the tourist infrastructure is located: hotels, cafes, ashrams, temples, yoga centers, souvenir stores and stores.
What you need to know before visiting Rishikesh
- Rishikesh is a vegetarian city, with no meat, fish or bird dishes. Be prepared to spend a few days without the usual dishes: there are many cafes and restaurants where local, Chinese, Nepalese and Mexican dishes are well prepared.
- Rishikesh is a sacred city and no alcohol is sold here.
- For the same reason (see item 2), it is not customary to wear open and provocative clothing. Whatever the purpose of your visit, it is better not to bare your knees and shoulders and to respect the feelings of believers.
Such rules apply to many places in India, but Rishikesh is a popular tourist city, and some restrictions have long lost their relevance. For example, egg dishes and Russian cuisine (borscht, schi, vareniki - but no meat) have appeared on the menu of several cafes. The more enterprising illegally sell beer and fried chicken, the exact location, check with rickshaw drivers (password "I want chicken and beer").
The best time to visit Rishikesh
March to June and September to November are comfortable times to visit Rishikesh. The daytime temperature reaches +24+29, and at night it does not fall below +20+23.
The cold peaks in December and January: the air here during the day warms up to +20, and at night the temperature drops to 0. When you come here in winter - be sure to bring warm clothes, and also note that not all hotels have heating systems. In February it is still quite cool and in the evenings there is a strong wind.
From June to September it rains, there are not many tourists and accommodation prices are lower than during the peak season.
Things to do and visit in Rishikesh
Yoga and meditation
Yoga and meditation have become the most popular sciences for treating physical, mental and emotional ailments, as well as for gaining spiritual strength. There are many ashrams and yoga centers on the banks of the mountain river, where practices, teachings and meditations are held every day.
To be admitted to a free ashram, you must write a letter in advance requesting your admission and stating the reason for your stay. In commercial ashrams one night costs from 300 rupees, the minimum period of occupancy is 5 days. Each ashram has a strict routine and rules about being on the premises: early rise and early bedtime (some ashrams close their doors at 10:00 pm and if you don't make it, you'll spend the night outside), some don't allow talking and stay silent for the whole stay.
The ashrams also offer group yoga and meditation classes every day. The price for a single visit starts from 100 rupees.
Ved Niketan Dham (Ved Niketan Ashram) is one of the most respected schools of yoga. The special living conditions here are designed to ensure that visitors are not distracted by worldly bustle, but are spiritually transformed. All classes are free for the residents of the ashram. For visitors, one class will cost 100 rupees, the same price for a single room without a shower per day (better book in advance). The other ashrams also come here for group classes.
Ajatananda Ashram is an interreligious monastic ashram, open only twice a year: from February to April and from October to November. Meditations and satsangs (lessons) are free, but any donations are accepted in return. The main feature of the ashram was not a religious approach, but spirituality.
If you are looking for a good school to become a yoga teacher and take a full course, contact Shiva Yoga Peeth Ashram. The cost of the full course when you book 2 months in advance is 1200 $. This price includes: 4 weeks of intensive classes that start at 6am and end with a final meditation at 8:30pm, three vegetarian meals a day, room accommodations, teaching aids and materials.
Outdoor activities: rafting, kayaking, trekking, bungee jumping
The peculiar landscape of the mountainous area has become the key to the formation of various kinds of active and extreme recreation in Rishikesh.
In Rishikesh there are several offices of well-known companies that organize active tours, such as Red Chilli Adventure or Adventure Rishikesh.
Rafting is exciting rafting on a mountain river and turbulent rapids. The rapids of the Ganges River have been classified into different classes according to the level of difficulty from Class I to Class VI.
The easiest hour route is 9 kilometers (price Rs. 600), the longest and most difficult - 35 kilometers lasting from 5 hours and all day (2000 rupees, the price includes insurance and snacks/drinks). Tourists are taken to the starting point of the route (the river camp is an hour's drive upstream from Rishikesh), then a 30-minute safety briefing is given and equipment is prepared.
Kayaking is kayaking for extreme and thrill-seekers. Kayaking tour for 2 days will cost 7 thousand rupees, for 4 days - 13 thousand rupees.
Trekking - hiking tours in the mountains, the minimum duration of the tour in the Himalayas - 4 days, the cost starts at 13 thousand rupees. As a rule, the organizing firm creates comfortable conditions during the trip (transportation of belongings, three meals a day, organization of overnight accommodation in a tent). But the most important condition is that you have to prepare for mountain trekking yourself in advance and seriously.
Bungee Jumping, India's highest jumping platform, is located 25 kilometers from Rishikesh. Take an extreme leap from a height of 83 meters (about 273 feet or 22 stories) at speeds up to 160 km/h and feel the powerful rush of adrenaline.
Eco-tourism: caves, waterfalls and parks
28 km. from Rishikesh on the Badrinath highway is the Vashistha cave, popular with meditation enthusiasts. The cave is of no interest in terms of speleology, but is named after one of the seven sages of Hindu culture who came here to meditate.
Kunjapuri Devi Temple is situated at an altitude of 1676 m and is one of the most revered Hindu shrines in Uttarakhand. The temple is 27.5 km. from Rishikesh and 11 km. from Narendra Nagar. From the top of the temple one has a magnificent view of the mighty Himalayas and the holy cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh.
Neer Garh Waterfal is located at a distance of 9 km. from Rishikesh railway station and 5 km. from Lakshman Jhula. It is a two tiered waterfall with two pools: the first the smallest waterfall is 200 meters from the road. Then after 1.2 km. there is the main waterfall with a large bowl. At the waterfall there are two bridges and several rest stops. There is a fee to enter the park, 30 rupees per person.
Rajaji national park is located 25 km. from Rishikesh in an area of 820 sq. km. There are about 500 elephants, 12 tigers, 250 panthers, 400 species of birds and many other animals. In the morning and evening there is a three-hour jeep safari through the jungle in the park. All visitors to Rajaji National Park must obtain a permit to enter the park. For tourists the entrance is 600 rupees for three hours, jeep safari from 1500 rupees (it is better to book in advance). The park is closed during the monsoon.
The Beatles Ashram
The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ashram is situated in a beautiful location within the Rajaji National Park, with the Ganges River flowing behind it. The legendary British rock band The Beatles visited the ashram in 1968 to receive advanced training and learn transcendental meditation.
Their visit changed the Western world's view of Indian spirituality. Yoga and meditation became the new trend and Rishikesh became the center of yoga and meditation internationally. Later Rishikesh became the yoga capital of the world. After the death of Maharishi Mahesh Yoga, the ashram was closed and the complex was abandoned. Officially entry is forbidden, but people unofficially visit this ashram by offering money to the gatekeeper.
Sri Trayanbakshwar Temple (Tera Manzil Temple or Trimbakeshwar Temple)
Located near Lakshman Jhula, the Trayanbakshwar temple is one of the important shrines in Rishikesh. The temple is a 13-story building with various Hindu deities inside. The temple was founded in the 12th century and is generally considered to be the abode of Shiva. From the top floor of the temple one can see the emerald water of the Ganges and a stunning panoramic view of the foothills of the Himalayas.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
Nilkant Mahadev is 12 km. away from Rishikesh and is one of the most famous temples, which is located at an altitude of about 5,500 feet (926 m) on a hilltop across the Ganges River. This temple is very popular in North India and has become a favorite place among religious tourists.
The Sacred Waters of the Ganges River
On the sandy beach near the Ram Jula Bridge are the bases of several tent camps, with prices ranging from 800 to 1,500 rupees per night. But if life in Spartan conditions does not appeal to you at all, come to the beach just to admire the local surroundings and, of course, to bathe in the sacred river.
Small sandy areas with rocky inlets stretch along the river, so stop at any beach you like. Remember that the water in the river, even in the heat is cooler than at the same time at sea. In the evening the companies gather near the water, someone plays a musical instrument, someone admires the sunset. It creates a special atmosphere of cohesion and
Evening ritual on the banks of the Ganges - aarti
Every day on the banks of the river there is an evening ceremony of Ganga Arti, which begins with the singing of bhajans and prayers. During the sacred ritual, lighted candles are lowered into the water as an offering. A very mesmerizing action takes place at the Parmat Niketan temple.
Where to stay
Rishikesh has a wide range of accommodations, from budget ghettos to luxury riverside properties overlooking the mountains. When going on a trip and choosing a place to stay, be aware of the seasonality (not all hotels are heated) and book your room in advance! In the peak season, there is a chance that finding a good accommodation will not be easy and it may take you half a day to find it.
There are no 5* hotels in Rishikesh (the closest is the Radisson Blu Hotel 5* in neighboring Haridwar); no more than 15 4* hotels and over 200 options for hostels and campgrounds.
One night in a budget hostel will cost you 300-500 rupees (the price includes free wi-fi and, in some cases, air conditioning). Many inexpensive complexes are concentrated in the area around the suspension bridges, but be aware that it is quite noisy.
Those who appreciate comfort and other amenities will appreciate the resort complex Aloha On The Ganges with its own swimming pool on the territory and a good location One night in early season will cost from 4 thousand rupees / day.
If you are dreaming of a peaceful and tranquil vacation, consider the Tapovan area, which is located on the hill, behind Lakshman Jhula. There is a wide range of accommodation and reasonable prices.
Most of the visiting yogi tourists stay in the largest ashram that Rishikesh has. It is Parmath Niketan (Ram Jhula district). There are about 1,000 rooms, a huge well-kept green area and this is where the annual Yoga Festival is held. Rooms are simple and clean, the price per night can reach 1,200 rupees/room. Yoga classes 2 times a day are included.
Where to eat
As noted above, Rishikesh is a vegetarian city and no meat/fish dishes are prepared here. This is a great excuse to enjoy healthy and wholesome food. Rice dishes, Tibetan momos and veggie burgers are on the menu in every cafe. Don't forget to try vegan pastries (cakes and cakes made without eggs).
60's (Cafe Delmar/Beatles Cafe) is located in the mountainous Tapovan district and has become one of the best in Rishikesh. The atmosphere and spirit of the Beatles is not as strong as it used to be, but the view from the terrace over the river and the mountain scenery is still amazing! There are always a lot of people here and if you see a free table - do not hesitate to take it. The walls of the cafe are decorated with Beatles records, a few rare pieces of interior of the 60s. Try the coffee, smoothies and pasta!
One of the famous Little Buddha Café, overlooking the Ganges, serves egg and momo (Tibetan dumplings).
If you're tired of the hustle and bustle around you and want to have a real good coffee, Honey Hut Café is the perfect place. It's a cozy, European-looking room with cushioned sofas and a small shop with goods from local producers. They make amazing coffee with honey, and also offer delicious desserts.
Sweet desserts are also served at Pumpernickel German Bakery. It is a small café near the Lakshman Jula Bridge and the Tera Manzil Temple opposite. There are also several Chinese, Israeli and Mexican dishes on the menu. The price tag is comparatively higher than the other cafes, but the food here is quite good.