A haven for adventure enthusiasts and spiritual seekers, Rishikesh is among the most popular cities to explore in India. It is also one of the most visited Indian cities for foreign nationals and is considered to be the unofficial yoga capital of the country. The city has undergone a huge transformation and the credit goes to increasing tourism to the city.
The city welcomes all kinds of travellers and you can expect to have a memorable experience here. From five-star resorts, hostels, guesthouses to ashrams, yoga centres and meditation retreats – Rishikesh has it all. The two most important tips for travellers planning their places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary is the budget and duration of your trip. To cover all the places to visit in Rishikesh, one needs between two and five days. On the other hand, if you only want to include tourist attractions in Rishikesh in your itinerary, it will take you only a couple of days.
Neelkantha Mahadeva Temple
Neelkantha Mahadeva Temple is among the most popular places to visit in Rishikesh for spiritual seekers. Located approximately 30 kilometres from the main city, one can either choose to walk to the temple or take a cab.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is said to be the spot where Lord Shiva swallowed the poison that gave him his symbolic blue neck. The architecture of the temple is inspired by typical Hindu temple elements. The outer wall of the temple depicts the story of samudramanthan manthan, the story of how amrita originated in Indian mythology, through pictures. There is a Shivlinga in the inner sanctum that serves as the main spot of worship.
Visitors also tie a red thread around an old peepal tree in the hope of their wishes coming true. The temple is situated in the midst of a lush forest and promises a peaceful experience. Despite the crowds, you can find a quiet spot to take in your surroundings and sit in peace.
Owing to the narrow winding roads to the temple, we recommend hiring a local cab if you want to include the temple in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. If you are travelling with children, we suggest carrying water and snacks since there are no shops around the temple.
Cost: If you would like to include Neelkantha Mahadeva Temple in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary, we recommend keeping aside Rs.300 per person.
The close relationship between the popular English band The Beatles and Rishikesh is no secret. In fact, this association has helped in putting this sacred city on the global tourist map. The group spent the majority of their time in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram which is now known as the Beatles Ashram and is a highlight in places to visit in Rishikesh itineraries. It’s said that the band members were so inspired that they created more than 50 songs in the peaceful environment of the ashram.
Situated in the midst of Rajaji National Park, the ashram should feature in your list of places to visit in Rishikesh. Offering serenity and calm, the ashram gives you a glimpse into the life of devotees in the ashram. Most of the walls are covered in murals of the four band members. There are meditation domes in the garden area as well as an attractive one on the roof.
If your schedule allows it, you can also include nature walks and short meditation sessions in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. The ashram is located 3 kilometres from Laxman Jhula and you won’t regret it if you choose to walk till the ashram. Since the ashram is situated inside the premises of Rajaji National Park, Indian tourists have to pay an entry fee of Rs.150 and foreign tourists have to shell out Rs.600.
Cost: Including a visit to the Beatles Ashram in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary will cost you between Rs.150 and Rs.600.
Melodious chants of mantras resonate in most parts of the city, but at Triveni Ghat, the energy and the spiritual aura is energising. A sacred ghat in the city, Triveni Ghat is among the most enthralling places to visit in Rishikesh. The Ganga aarti that takes place here is a major crowd puller and must feature in your places to visit in Rishikesh list.
The maha aarti takes place here every day between 6 pm and 7 pm and is an experience that will surely be the highlight of your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. Triveni Ghat also features in many mythological texts and is considered to be the spot where the chattri of Lord Krishna was constructed. It is also considered to be the cremation ground for Lord Krishna. You can take a holy dip here and can also make offerings to the River Ganga.
The maha aarti is the most popular ritual which takes place here and is attended by many tourists and locals. The aarti begins with the chanting of rituals and beating of drums. If you want to enjoy the aarti, we recommend keeping aside sufficient time in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary.
If you don’t want to attend the aarti, you can also head to Triveni Ghat in the morning and the evening. The sunrise and sunset here offer breathtaking views and if you are a photographer, this is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.
Cost: If you want to include Triveni Ghat in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary, it will not cost you more than Rs.100.
Lakshman Jhula is synonymous with the city and is undoubtedly one of the most well-known places to visit in Rishikesh. Tourists can’t miss this hanging bridge which connects the two villages of Tapovan and Jonk.
The iron bridge is 450 meters long and is situated at a height of 70 feet above the river. The tourism department in Rishikesh ensures that the bridge is well-maintained since it’s the most convenient way to reach either of the villages. The bridge is a significant part of the city’s history owing to its mention in numerous mythological texts. It’s said that Lord Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Rama, crossed the mighty River Ganga exactly at the point where the bridge stands today.
The bridge was constructed in 1939 and is regularly used by locals. No vehicles are allowed on the bridge besides two-wheelers. While one side of the bridge takes you to the main road connecting the city with Kaudiyala, the other side is home to the city’s main market. You can explore numerous cafes and boutique shops here. The market is also home to some of the most important places to visit in Rishikesh including the Lakshman Temple and the Terah Manzil Temple.
Cost: A visit to Lakshman Jhula will not cost you anything.
If you are an adventure enthusiast, chances are that you are already familiar with Rishikesh’s adventure hub. Counted among the top tourist attractions to include in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary, Kaudiyala is famous as the starting point of most rafting tours. Kaudiyala is located 40 kilometres from the main city and is an ideal spot to include in a places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary for nature lovers and adventure buffs. If you want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the main city, we don’t have a better recommendation to recommend. Kaudiyala is home to several campsites and depending on your budget, you can choose from budget to luxurious camps.
Offering activities such as river rafting, camping, rock climbing, cliff jumping and zip-lining, Kaudiyala is the centre of all adventure activities in Rishikesh. Most rafting enthusiasts prefer starting their excursion from here since the stretch between Kaudiyala and Shivpuri offers challenging rapids. A rafting tour starting from Kaudiyala is on most travellers’ places to visit in Rishikesh itineraries.
If you choose to stay in Kaudiyala, we urge you to respect the environment and ensure that your surroundings are clean. The local government has made notable efforts to keep the area clean and also to organise the adventure activities that take place here. Since Kaudiyala is situated an hour away from the main city, you will need to hire a cab if you want to include it in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. However, if you have booked a local rafting tour, then you will receive a drop till the starting point of the rafting tour.
Cost: A visit to Kaudiyala will cost you between Rs.1200 and Rs.4000 per person. This amount will depend on the number of adventure activities you include in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary.
Omkarananda Ashram was established in 1993 and is situated in Muni Ki Reti. A must-include in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary if you are looking for peace and quiet, the ashram is quite popular with spiritual seekers. Offering panoramic views of the River Ganga and surrounding mountain ranges, the ashram instantly transports you to a different world.
Away from the busy city, the ashram is the ideal place to feature in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. Regular sessions are held every day on the ancient science of yoga and the Bhagavad Gita. If you are interested in these sessions, you can include a residential program in the ashram in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary.
If you want to explore the ashram, you must keep aside a couple of hours in your places to see in Rishikesh itinerary. The ashram has also gained popularity owing to its association with world-renowned B.K.S. Iyengar. The yoga guru started the practice of Iyengar Yoga in Rishikesh. This type of yoga focuses on strength, flexibility, concentration and meditation. A daily aarti takes place here every evening on the ghat in front of the ashram which is a great addition to your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. Quieter than the aarti at Triveni Ghat, the ashram’s aarti is attended by students, teachers and visitors.
Cost: The cost of including Omkarananda Ashram in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary can cost you anywhere between Rs.1000 and Rs.5000 depending on the kind of program you choose.
Muni Ki Reti
Muni Ki Reti is among the few places to visit in Rishikesh where you can enjoy the peace the city promises as well as the many religious attractions. Considered to be an important pilgrim centre, it serves as the gateway for Char Dham.
There are a number of ashrams here that travellers can choose from. Offering basic facilities and simple Indian food, the ashrams are a preferred spot for pilgrims who are on their spiritual journey.
Muni Ki Reti directly translates to ‘sand of the sages’ and is said to be the spot where King Bharata served penance. You can take a shared auto to Muni Ki Reti or walk till the spot if you wish to admire the beautiful views.
Cost: Including a trip to Muni Ki Reti in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary will cost you approximately Rs.50.
Situated approximately 27 kilometres from the main city is Vashishtha Cave. The cave is said to be the same place where Sage Vashishtha meditated for many years. One of the seven saptarishis in Indian mythology, the sage came here after losing all his children. It is said that he tried to end his life by drowning himself in the River Ganga, but the river refused his decision. The sage then decided to set up his life in the midst of this quiet and peaceful town situated along the River Ganga. His escape from mundane life brought him closer to surreal natural beauty and offered him a peaceful abode to continue his spiritual pursuits. serenity and surreal natural beauty.
The cave is maintained by Swami Purushottamananda Ashram and sees hundreds of visitors here. There are no charges to enter the cave but it’s best if you have a local guide to help you with your tour. The cave houses a Shivlinga and can just about fit four to five people. If you want to meditate here, we recommend sparing a few hours in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary., you can spend time meditating in the cave. There is a small temple outside where you can seek blessings before entering the cave.
If you are a nature lover, you must include a visit here in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. The views from here are mesmerising and owing to the location, there are no tourists around. One can spend hours here admiring the gushing river and enjoying the peace this spot offers.
Cost: It will cost you between Rs.200 and Rs.500 per person if you choose to include a visit to Vashishtha Cave in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. This amount will depend on the mode of transport you choose to reach here.
Rajaji National Park
If you are a wildlife enthusiast or are interested in exploring one of the most popular national parks in Uttarakhand, Rajaji National Park must feature in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. Situated 15 kilometres from the main city, a visit to this national park is the perfect way to spend time in Uttarakhand.
Covering the districts of Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal, the national park has fossils which date back to more than 10 million years. The forest is dotted with teak and sal trees which add to the charm of this beauty. You will also spot a huge variety of flowering trees including lantana, sandan, amaltas and kachnar. The government awarded the national park the status of a tiger reserve in 2015. If you are lucky, you might spot the royal tiger in one of your safaris which should definitely be part of your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary.
To explore the forest at a comfortable pace, we recommend keeping aside at least three hours in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. You can either choose an elephant safari or a jungle safari for your tour. Travellers have often said that the jeep safari here is a memorable experience. One can expect to spot wild boars, pythons, barking deer, sambhar, monitor lizards, tiger and Asian elephants during the safari. The park opens at 6 am and we highly recommend including a morning safari in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary. The morning safari is the best chance for a tiger sighting. At the same time, if you are an enthusiastic bird watcher, you can spend time inside the forest between 11:30 am and 1 pm. There are no safaris during this time and you can hope to enjoy the beauty of nature amidst serenity.
Cost: If you would like to include Rajaji National Park in your places to visit in Rishikesh itinerary, you can expect to spend between Rs.1000 and Rs.2500 per person. The fee for Indian nationals is Rs.750 per person and Rs.1500 per person for foreign nationals.
Written by Kirat Sodhi. She is a proud mom of three cats and lives for lemon tea, a good book and spontaneous travel plans.
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