I visited the Yoga Capital of the World two years back but the memories I collected there at still so fresh, it feels like yesterday. After researching for quite some time, I decided to visit Rishikesh and then the other places were picked up based on proximity for our Uttarakhand Trip. And that's how my journey to this age-old city started. We first went upto Mussoorie then started descend to Dehrahun and then came the spiritual town of Rishikesh!
Do you know apart from being the Yoga Capital of World, Rishikesh is the Adventure Capital of India and also the Divine Gateway of Char Dham? How can a place have so many different shades? And how can it stay true to every name it has been honoured with?
Read along to find out how I saw the different sides of Rishikesh in the two day I stayed there.
We hopped onto a bus from ISBT Dehradun to Rishikesh and reached Rishikesh in about 1 and half hour. The view along was mesmerizing. The turns and curves of the road in the State Transport bus were worth the experience. After reaching Rishikesh bus stand, we hired a Vikram, as they call it to Laxman Jhula. We checked into our abode for the next two days near Tapovan, High Bank area. It was a real climb to get there from Laxman Jhula the first time. But, it was fun after we hired scooty for exploring Rishikesh.
Rishikesh, The Yoga Capital of The World
Historically, the river banks and hills in the vicinity of the town were used by saints for yoga and meditation. Rishikesh has many internationally acclaimed ashrams. You just have to take a look around! Book yourself in for a yoga session or join for a week or month. They have a lot of options. Just walking down the streets for a few minutes, you will come across many foreigners carrying yoga mats in their pretty holders. It was for the Transcendental Meditation training course at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that The Beatles, rock band, visited India. Their visit received a lot of media attention and the ashram where they stayed is now called the Beatles Ashram.
The Ashram was abandoned in the 1990s, in 2015 government opened it for the public as a tourist attraction. They have retained the old buildings of ashram. There are meditation caves, lecture hall, the Beatles Rooms. Once you set your foot in the Ashram, you get a different vibe. The are several art works, murals, graffiti. Once in a while, you might also bump into some foreigner yogi who has been staying in Rishikesh for several years now. I met a guy who left his country 13 years ago and came to Rishikesh to practice yoga and meditation. Many devout yogis and divine gurus have been making Rishikesh their home for many years now.
Rishikesh is also a great place to shop for yoga items. Look for the classic copper water bottles and yoga mat holders. Try to walk around the market to get an idea of the prices.
Rishikesh, The Divine Gateway to Char Dham
Rishikesh is land of spiritual sagas where mythical tales live on till today. It is the first stop for the Chardham Yatra owing largely to the fact that the holy river Ganga flows through here. Apart from that, there are some spiritual divine places in Rishikesh which makes it a must visit place for Hindus.
It is said that Lakshman, brother of Lord Ram crossed Ganga on a jute rope at this place. Later a jute rope bridge was built here to honour Lakshman. That jute rope bridge was washed away in floods in 1920s. But in 1930s, the 450 feet long iron bridge connecting Pauri district with Tehri district was built. Later a similar iron suspension bridge was built about 2kms downstream to take the edge of Lakshman Jhula. Both the Jhulas offers a panoramic view of river Ganga and Rishikesh city. But I was not able to get a single good click on those iconic jhulas because of the crowd.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva consumed poison at this place during Samudramanthan and that's how his throat turned blue. The story of Samudramanthan is depicted very well by sculptures on this temple. There is some aura surrounding this temple that is very subtle and ethereal. Around the temple is a dense forest so it is one of the great trek options. The trek starts from Ram Jhula and is about 22kms.
Triveni Ghat remains overcrowded with tourists to take ritual baths to cleanse their sins. And Ganga Aarti is the main attraction at this spot. Make it a point to witness the Ganga Aarti when is Rishikesh everyday. We tried to attend the aarti from different spots during our time there. The Ganga Aarti spreads so much positivity that we were just sitting there for hours enjoying the cool breeze from the river. Do no forget to float a diya in the river and watch so many diyas floating in Ganga. It is a beautiful sight to see.
Rishikesh, The Adventure Capital of India
We had kept one entire day to see the adventurous side of Rishikesh. After witnessing the early morning Ganga Aarti, we headed to Jumping Heights office. We decided to try Bungee Jumping and Flying Fox. Paid for the package and started towards the Jump Zone. They offer transport to the zone but be decided to drive on our own, exploring on the way.
The drive amidst the lush green and lofty valleys of Rishikesh was one hell of a ride. After reaching the reception area, the crew assisted us in understanding the bungy and safety procedures. After emptying the pockets and signing the form, we went for Asia's Longest Flying Fox.
Fly Fox, Jumping Heights
The launch platform was just besides their cafeteria. It was more of a fun sport. Flying at a speed of 140 kmph, you are launched from the platform straight down the wire just above the river level. The speed at which the breeze hits you is a kind of thrill never experienced before. After reaching the lowest point you are pulled back by the retrieval mechanism. After the activity we walked up to the cafeteria to relax our nerves for the next adventure.
Bungee Jumping, Jumping Heights
The jump zone about 400 mtrs away and we commenced the walk. The adrenaline rush had already started. There were some safety checks and then I was on the edge of the bridge. Determined to jump in the first call itself. Staring at the distant point as the instructor mentioned not to look down. And then the count started... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Jump! And I was in the air. The first few seconds when you are not even sure if the harness is properly tied is the moment when you have your heart in your mouth. Then the first jerk in the ankle and you know you are safe! Then I started enjoying the view around and the feeling of hanging on top of Ganga. It is a once in lifetime experience, everyone should have! Then we are lowered to the recovery point from where we have to walk up. They mention it to be a 15-20 mins walk but we were so exhausted by the climb that it took us good 40 mins to reach the cafeteria.
After reaching the cafeteria, we collected our certificates and videos and set back towards Rishikesh. It was already sundown, the drive was amazing. Rishikesh is very safe as long as you are not alone. We did not get any unsual attention throughtout our stay there. The people of Rishikesh are very humble and friendly towards tourists. Not only in Rishikesh, the entire state is very safe for travellers. They stick to the name of Dev Bhoomi by keeping their tourists safe!
So here I end my blog hoping that you guys enjoyed reading about my experiences and were able to recollect some of your memories. Do share your experiences from Rishikesh in the comments section below! You can message me on Instagram @indiangirlwhowanders in case of any queries. Also, I write at indiangirlwhowanders.wordpress.com!
You can also watch a Bungee Jumping Video on Youtube!