Rishikesh is a small city situated in the northern part of the country in Uttarakhand. It is well known for being the starting point of the pilgrimage to the Char Dham and also for the plethora of adventure sports it offers to the travellers to choose from. The fact that it is easily accessible from Delhi and NCR region makes it a chosen destination for weekend getaways. Here is a list of things you can do when you visit this part of the country along with the adventure sports or apart from it.
Go foodie, this place is a paradise for the ones who don't mind trying a bit of Firang taste once in a while. If the extensive Tandoori and Butter chicken have bored your gustatory cells, its time to try some Pita with Hummus, or flat bread Pizza, or generous serving of Quesadillas, or a tray of rich and cheesy Lasagne, accompanied with the best of herbal teas and deserts like apple pie, banana cake or coconut crumble, and amazingly all of these at dirt cheap prices. Mind you, this place could be a real detox from the regular binge eating of non-veg delicacies and alcohol, yeah you would be entering a "dry region", but trust me you won't regret this experience. Though there are a number of restaurants located in the vicinity which have almost similar ambience and food served, Ganga Beach Cafe and German Bakery, at the end of Ram Jhula are my personal favourites due to the view of the river they offer.
There are numerous mini beaches along the riverside which provide perfect spot for solitude and tranquillity when all you want to do is unplug and relax. There are steamer boat rides from the Lakshman Jhula to the Ram Jhula and back. Along this stretch you can see many such small stretches of mini beaches. Carry a favourite book, or simply listen to your favourite playlist at such a spot and enjoy doing nothing at all.
3. Walk and Talk
Yes walk and walk and walk, the narrow lanes and by lanes will not allow you to drive here anything else but a two wheeler, but I'd rather prefer walking. Simply walk through the streets and observe the colourful people, the foreigners in quest of peace and spirituality, or the ones who have attained it, the sages in ashes or in saffron coloured robes, the locals, talk to them, even if you are an introvert make a move and talk, these people have amazing stories to tell about their experiences in Rishikesh, about life, about spirituality and you never know you may find something to #hashtag upon(if you know what I mean here!). The kaleidoscope of colour and diversity that Rishikesh is, is bound to leave you speechless.
4. Go camping
Go beach camping and white water rafting in places like Kaudiyala and Shivpuri and devour the beauty of the sands here. Camping is a lifetime experience, do it with your friends or go with a team of people you are meeting for the first time. It is indeed a breathtaking experience to sit by the sands and glare into the starry skies in the middle of the night, or play a game of volleyball, or sit by a bonfire and strum and jam on an acoustic guitar if you know how to play it or simply listen to your favourite songs and make memories that's going to linger in your mind forever whenever you play those songs again. These camping packages also include activities such as river rafting, trekking, cliff jumping. You could also do kayaking if thrill excites you.
5.Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula
Too mainstream, I know, but these have a charm of their own and also I am biased to include them here. These suspension bridges are fun to walk on and also a delight from a photographer's point of view. These bridges are beautifully endowed with natural beauty on either side and the feel of the air when atop is simply rewarding in numerous ways. You can feed the fishes in the river standing midway in these bridges. If possible do take a walk across them at night when its unusually quiet and the only sounds audible is the gurgling of the river and flutter of the breeze.
Rishikesh is an important centre for learning and practising Yoga and meditation. There are many ashrams which offer professional yoga courses and certifications. Learn the art of meditation and reaching deep within your conscience with various forms of Yoga, become practitioners and spread the knowledge of Yoga to promote good health and longevity wherever you go.
There are busy markets on the way to Lakshman Jhula as well as Ram Jhula. You can find a surfeit of things to choose from. Wooden household decorative items, to cool apparel that you may never find in the posh malls in the cities, small utilities, cool branded shades(not original of course!), funky jewellery, and a lot more. If you have been looking for that belly chain to make the perfect belly dancing moves, you are sure to find it here. Happy shopping and splurging!
Rishikesh also being one of those cities through which the holy Ganges passes in its journey, is a centre for religion and spirituality. The Ganga flowing through Rishikesh is cleaner and pollution free as compared to the other cities. There are also many temples such as Kailash Niketan Temple or Triyambakeshwar Temple, that are home to many deity forms in Hinduism that surprisingly you may not be aware of. However Rishikesh is not a pilgrimage but a home to many other spiritual practices. The mornings always start with the chants and incantations, and the constant reverberations of ringing of the bells in the air is simply a purifying experience and definitely a better way to start your day than the regular hustle and bustle of the cities.
Go ahead and explore this beauty called Rishikesh and get over the myth that its just meant for pilgrimages. This place can trip you over!