The temple city of Rishikesh is around 250 km from Delhi. It is a popular weekend destination for the city folk from the National Capital Region (NCR).
Rishikesh is a melting pot of spirituality, adventure and home to numerous well-known temples. It is also a favourite tourist destination for foreigners who visit it for a spiritual and religious experience and live in the city’s many famous ashrams. Rishikesh has many well-known Yoga centres which are frequented by travellers from across the world.
Situated on the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, Rishikesh is the gateway to the many picturesque hill stations in Uttarakhand. The majestic Ganga flows through Rishikesh on her way to the holy pilgrim city of Haridwar. While the Ganga today is a highly polluted water body, the water in Rishikesh is relatively unaffected by the pollution as the major polluting points are down the course of the river in the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh.
The flowing river water, with its strong currents at certain points and a shade of green colour due to the natural vegetation underneath, is a visual treat. The water in summers is in fact quite cold as the melting ice from the mountain tops mixes with the river.
Over the last decade or so, Rishikesh has also become a favoured destination for adventure lovers. Rafting, rappelling, bungee jumping, rock climbing and camping on the banks of the Ganga are some of the experiences that Rishikesh now offers its tourists.
The place is full of tourists on every weekend, almost throughout the year. Rafting is one of the most popular adventure sports here. Many tourists now plan a day’s stopover in Rishikesh as part of their tour itinerary of Uttarakhand, just to experience the thrill of rafting.
A night stay at the many camps which dot the course of the Ganga is an enthralling experience. A stay at these camp sites is very different (and arguably better) from a stay at a hotel in the same place. The experience of staying without electricity, by the riverside with a cool breeze across at night and enjoying a good drink under the open skies is truly unbeatable.
A stay at the camps is certainly recommended for those who are willing to move out of the comfort zone on a holiday.
All die-hard adventure enthusiasts who wish to experience the ultimate adventure thrill — bungee jumping — should make advance bookings with Jumping Heights, the operator that conducts bungee jumping in Rishikesh.
Like all tourist places, Rishikesh too has its fair share of eateries and is full of restaurants and cafes on the riverfront. The cafes around Laxman Jhula are frequented by both foreigners and Indians alike. The Buddha Cafe and Freedom Cafe are two of the well-known eateries close to Laxman Jhula. A walk down Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula over the river is a must for every traveller.
A word of caution for the hardcore non vegetarians — restaurants and cafes are prohibited from serving non-vegetarian food within the local municipal area in Rishikesh due to its religious importance. There, however, are many restaurants serving non-veg food around the bus stand and near Shivalik.
A visit to one of the cafes in the evening is highly recommended just to experience the solace, peace and calmness around the river and of course, to enjoy some good food. The view from the top of these cafes is truly a moment worth capturing in a photograph.
The summer season, from April to June, is the best time to visit Rishikesh, which is certainly a must see for adventure enthusiasts as well as the spiritual and the religious.