Rishikesh is the land soaked in fascinating mythology and is the gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas. Breathtaking scenery, ample options for outdoor recreation and possibly a spiritual awakening are few of the things that await travelers making their way to Rishikesh. It’s only a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ you’ll travel there because it truly is one of the most enticing places to see in India. So for when you do, here are the 7 best things to do in Rishikesh.
Attend The Ganga Aarti At Triveni Ghat
The Ganga is believed to be the holiest river as per Hindu mythology. To pay respect to the sanctity of the river and seek its blessings, several devotees attend the Ganga Aarti (prayer ritual) at Triveni Ghat. This ghat is the point at which the holy river Ganga meets two other sacred rivers namely Yamuna and Saraswati. The ritual begins at 06:00 p.m. every evening and goes on to 07:00 p.m.
Quite a few people gather to participate in the spiritual ritual so make sure you’re there a tad bit early to get some place to sit. The smell of incense sticks, the sight of beautifully lit lamps, the sound of beating drums, bells, and chants creates an atmosphere of positivity. Attending the Ganga Aarti to experience the spiritual energy of the place is a must for anyone coming to Rishikesh.
Take A Stroll From Lakshman Jhula To Ram Jhula
When you begin to explore Rishikesh on foot, you’ll notice two huge bridges dominating the space in town – the Lakshman and Ram Jhula. These bridges are an integral part of Rishikesh; there’s something about walking on them that lets you see the people, temples and the region from a different lens. Among the two, Ram Jhula is the bridge that’s less crowded.
The iconic Lakshman bridge is a bit more touristy. It was built in 1929 and named after the Hindu deity Lakshmana. As per ancient mythology, the Hindu God Lakshmana crossed the river Ganga on the location where the bridge is built on just two ropes. Since the Lakshman Jhula bridge is pretty old (92 years to be exact) and won’t really be able to sustain the load of people, an alternative bridge that replaces it is in discussion.
Depending on when you visit, you may not be allowed to walk on it if it’s closed. In that case, head to the younger Ram Jhula (35 years old). Even strolling by the streets that surround these bridges is a great way to observe the lifestyle and culture of the people, making it one of the musts from the things to do in Rishikesh.
Get Your Adrenaline Fix
Extreme sports in Rishikesh are an eye-candy for adrenaline junkies. Be it river rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking or rock climbing – You name it and you’ll find it here. Some of these can be downright terrifying but it’s also so much fun once you’ve accomplished it. For river rafting, Shivpuri, Brahmpuri and Marine Drive are popular choices for tourists.
The terrain of streams, mountain peaks, and vast green plains of Rishikesh is best experienced through mild adventure options like hiking, riverside camping or zip-lining. These are less nerve-wracking to try in comparison to extreme sports. There is some outdoor activity for every type of traveler so pick an activity that you picture yourself trying out.
Meditate At Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram
The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram, previously unknown to many, became an extremely exciting site to visit after the legendary band The Beatles stepped in here in 1968. The Beatles came to the ashram to practice transcendental meditation and through it, find spiritual answers. Today, the ashram has become a spot for fans and tourists to come witness the place the Beatles once sat to meditate. Their time here proved fruitful; they wrote 48 songs that feature mostly on the ‘White Album’.
The ashram is also a fascinating place for artists because the walls are splattered with beautiful graffiti in tribute to the band. Artists like Pan Trinity Das and Miles Toland have created some marvellous murals that truly give the old ramshackled walls a whole new look. The ashram lies abandoned today, but make sure you visit to check out the art and spend some time contemplating in the meditation caves that The Beatles once occupied.
It would take you approximately 30 minutes or so to walk to the Beatles Ashram from Ram Jhula. In case you don’t like to walk, you could consider renting a scooter to get there and capture some great views en route. Keep in mind that the ashram is situated inside Rajaji Tiger reserve, so it’s best to leave once the sun sets since the park shuts at 6.30 p.m.
Go With The Flow At Neer Garh Waterfall
Neer Garh waterfall is just 30 minutes away from the central area in Rishikesh. It’s a great place to go to if you wish to improve your blood circulation by sitting under freshwater cascading off the cliffs. To find the waterfalls, you’ll have to trek up a hill; the reward is you get to take a dip in a chilling pool of water. It’s as close as it gets to sitting in nature’s own swimming pool. If you’re not super interested in swimming in the water, you can trek further up to get an eagle-eye view of the town of Rishikesh. Ideally, this waterfall is a great place to head to in the summers.
Keep Calm And Practice Yoga
Rishikesh is known to be the yoga capital of the world. People from all over the globe come here to learn about the teachings of yoga and attend yoga teacher training classes with certifications. There are several yoga ashrams in Rishikesh, but each of them have their own requirements in terms of maximum/minimum number of participants and days. In some ashrams, you can stay even for a period as long as 6 weeks to learn extensive courses on yoga practices.
If you don’t have that much time to dedicate, you can consider joining the daily yoga classes that most hostels and hotels organise. Also, think about carrying your yoga mat with you to try some yoga poses at sunrise by the holy river Ganga. The natural scenery, fresh air and the serene Ganga river heightens the experience of doing yoga in comparison to how it feels indoors.
Go On A Healthy Food Trail
“No, don’t eat too much outside food!” Did we sound just like your parents warning you to stop eating out? Well that’s a comment you won’t hear after you send them pictures of the food you find in Rishikesh. We say that because most restaurants in Rishikesh revolve around the idea of serving nutritious, organic food to guests. Due to Rishikesh being on sacred ground, restaurants don’t serve meat or alcohol. Instead, salads, colorful Instagrammable smoothie bowls and fresh fruits are things you’ll easily spot on your menu. That’s the kind of food culture that’s growing in Rishikesh and it’s definitely one of the must-try things to do in Rishikesh.
Some of the best places to eat at are Ganga Beach Café, Little Buddha Café, Ramana’s Organic Café, The Sitting Elephant and Beatles café. Sitting at a café that overlooks the river Ganga is something that every tourist looks for when in Rishikesh. You’ll find dozens of river facing cafés in line around Lakshman and Ram Jhula bridge. Don’t forget to also indulge in baked goods before you leave Rishikesh. Make sure to check out Honey Hut, Oasis Bakery and German bakery to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Has this list of the 7 best things to do in Rishikesh convinced you yet? Do consider heading to Rishikesh because it’s not just a great place with interesting things to do but it can be a pretty inexpensive place to holiday. It’s a backpackers favorite and if you consider yourself looking for a budget escapism-styled holiday, this may be it. In case you want to save on accommodation costs by staying at a social and clean hostel, check out both of our goSTOPS properties in Rishikesh. We’ve got all you need and more, at fantastic prices!
How Can I Spend 2 Days In Rishikesh?
If you just have 2 days in Rishikesh, it’s best to spend most of your time around Lakshman and Ram Jhula bridge. Pop into all the interesting cafés that you’ll find when you stroll the bridge and also make sure you sit by the river Ganga too. You can also attend the evening aarti (prayer ritual) that takes place at Triveni Ghat.
What Is Famous In Rishikesh?
Rishikesh is famous for its yoga ashrams and its adventure activities like river rafting, bungee jumping, zip lining, rock climbing and camping. It’s also a very spiritual place and is visited by several devotees who wish to take a dip in the holy river Ganga.
How Many Days Are Enough For Rishikesh?
To do justice to all the places that Rishikesh has to offer, it’s ideally best to stay in Rishikesh for at least a week. If you’re coming to take certificate yoga courses from an ashram, take into account the duration of the course.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Rishikesh?
You can visit Rishikesh all year round but October to May is considered to be the best time. Remember that November to March is peak season and if you want less crowds, plan your trip when it’s off season that’s in April, May or June.