It is easy to spend weeks in Rishikesh and feel that you have not got under its skin. It offers a seemingly different stage-set experience during every visit.
For example, if you travel to Rishikesh during monsoon season you are more likely to lose yourself in a pilgrim crowd, dominating its streets, with their confusing march pasts from Gangotri to Gaumukh. Whereas if you come here during winter, you find a place being swirled over with hippie westerners.
So where is the real Rishikesh?
Does it even exist?
Well, yes, if you know where to look. And that’s what we are going to discuss in this travel blog.
Rishikesh Travel Blog
From month-long yoga vacations to adventure sports to an overdose of religion and spirituality, there’s something for everyone in Rishikesh. And that’s what makes it one of the most popular holiday destinations in India.
Its robust, pristine nature, and the fact that it is probably the most easily accessible place in the Himalayas, from the capital city of New Delhi, makes it one of the most-visited places near Delhi. A 6-hour journey in a public bus and you find yourself at one of the many Ganga ghats.
There are moreover many overnight Delhi to Rishikesh buses, both ordinary and luxury, costing as less as 350 Rupees. Easy accessibility is the biggest driving factor for its increasing popularity.
According to the tourism website, Rishikesh is the most visited place in the entire Uttarakhand state.
Rishikesh Travel Map
The town is pretty much nestled across its two pedestrian bridges – Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula – which connect the eastern and the western sides of the city.
If you’re looking for a comparatively quiet place (though there’s nothing very quiet in Rishikesh) and something near the river Ganga, then consider staying close to Lakshman Jhula.
Ram Jhula, on the other hand, is more popular and crowded. Ram Jhuka is located in close proximity to some of the most popular Hindu temples and Ashrams (including the famous Beatles Ashram) and is, therefore, favoured by Indian tourists.
From Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula, Rishikesh wends its way along both banks of the river, at the bottom of a narrow valley. The east side is almost free of car traffic.
A walk from Ram Jula to Lakshman Jula takes about half an hour and passes through many sadhu huts, parks, and scores of small shops.
Things To Do In Rishikesh
With overgrowing popularity, Rishikesh is getting crowded every day but still remains a charming place to visit.
For those who are travelling to Rishikesh to entertain themselves with extracurricular activities, apart from the most sought-after Yoga vacations, there is no shortage of things to see and activities to try.
Here’s a list of the top things to do in Rishikesh:
- The waterfalls of Phool Chatti and Garud Chatti (both are located under 5kms north of Lakshman Jhula)
- River Rafting from the town of Shivpuri (18Kms north of Lakshman Jhula)
- Bunjee Jumping and other adventure sports at Mohan Chatti (15Kms from Lakshman Jhula)
- The evening Ganga Aartis at Parmarth Niketan
- Live music in Beatles Ashram, near Ram Jhula
- Café hopping among some of the popular chill-vibe cafés overlooking the glistering Ganges. My favourite ones include Little Buddha Cafe, The 60’s Cafe, Bistro Nirvana and the Ellbee Ganga View.
Though Rishikesh is also very intensely Hindu and there are enough cultures and religions to explore around if you want to visit other more intense pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand, I suggest you do Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath Char Dham.
The four destinations on Char Dham (translates as four holy places) are the real epitome of Hinduism in Uttarakhand.
Where To Stay In Rishikesh
Finding accommodation to your taste is no problem here. From budget, backpackers charging less than 200 Rupees a night to something as superior as 5000 Rupees a night you can find it all here.
If you will stay in a hostel, you will mostly find western backpackers. If you will stay in Ashrams (yes, you can stay at many Ashrams here too on pay per basis) you will mostly find Indians. Hotels can have a mixed crowd.
Ram Jhula is, moreover, where Indian tourists often stay. Laxman Jhula, on the other than is for western backpackers. Though I stay at Sivananda Ashram (we will speak about it later in the blog) every time I suggest you stay somewhere close to Laxman Jhula during your holiday there. If you are looking for the best hostels, read my Hostels In Rishikesh blog for a few suggestions.
What Do I Do There!
I always have a fixed Rishikesh travel itinerary which includes spending most of my peaceful dusk/dawns by the river Ganga.
Other than that I find most of my day’s activity confined inside the premises of Rishikesh Sivananda Ashram, near Ram Jhula. This is where I once spend two months, in a stretch, practising yoga and meditation.
The atmosphere inside the Ashram is pure tranquil, filled with an overdose of spirituality in its air. Sivananda Ashram is by far one of the few old and most sacred religious establishments in Rishikesh – which also holds a Samadhi Shrine of the revered Hindu Guru Swami Sivananda.
If meditation was the reason why you are travelling to Rishikesh in the first place then spending the early morning hours inside the Sivananda Samadhi Shrine, meditating, is a recommended experience.
How To Travel From Delhi To Rishikesh
Since the distance between the two destinations is less than 250 km, and travelling by bus or train takes no more than 7 hours, the very idea of taking a flight from Delhi to Rishikesh makes no sense. Having said that, we are not discussing so.
If, however, you are coming from another place in India and are taking a flight, the nearest airport to Rishikesh is in Dehradun (located around 50km away). Flights to Dehradun can be expensive as it’s a small domestic airport, so if you’re on budget travel in India, fly to Delhi.
This is how to travel from Delhi to Rishikesh…
If you’re travelling by bus you will be happy to know that there are a few dozen daily buses running on this route. And they run day and night. Since the distance is almost 6 hours, it makes sense you catch a morning bus and reach Rishikesh by evening. If not, a late-night bus (at 11 or 12 midnight) is also a good idea to reach early morning by 5.
The bus boarding point in Delhi is Kashmere Gate which is the base for both government and private buses. There are three types of Himachal Roadways buses: Ordinary, semi-luxury and Volvo. Check the website for updated prices.
I suggest you check their price on PayTm bus booking portal.
If, however, you are travelling by train, you can find about 10 trains from Delhi. Most of the trains that run on this route stop at Haridwar (located 25km away from Ram Jhula). You can take a tuk-tuk or a bus from Haridwar railway station which takes less than 45 minutes. A railway station in Rishikesh is currently under construction and may soon have connections running.
Do you have anything to add to this Travel Guide? Do you think the list suggested under top things to do in Rishikesh needs an addition? Spill your thoughts in the comments below!
Also, read this Uttarakhand travel guide if you are planning to visit more places in Uttarakhand after your Rishikesh travel.