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RISHIKESH

Yoga Capital of the World


 
  Foreign visitors taking yoga class at Rishikesh


Rishikesh is a small town in the northern state of Uttarakhand in India. Scenically located where the Ganges River comes down from the Himalayas, Rishikesh catapulted to Western fame when the Beatles dropped by for a visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram (now closed), and the town is still known as the World Capital of Yoga. Rishikesh is also the Gateway to the Himalayas. The Char Dham Yatra (Four Shrines Sacred Journey) ideally begins from Rishikesh. From hill stations to pilgrim spots, and political hubs to dense forests, this part of India has them all. A number of places from the northern part of India have made it to the tourism circuits of many a traveler. Here are 5 reasons why you must visit Rishikesh at least once in your life.

Yoga

 
  Tourists having fun of rafting during his visit to Rishikesh


Rishikesh is one of the holiest places for Hindus. That’s why sages and saints who master the yogic arts have been visiting the city for thousands of years. Reputed yoga gurus and spiritual leaders like Guru Vashishtha, Adiguru Nilkantha, Swami Shivanand, Swami Dayanad Saraswati, Jatawale Baba, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Sukhdevanand, and Swami Aatm Prakash have chosen Rishikesh for their spiritual practices. Rishikesh is popular across the planet as the yoga capital of the world. A number of ashrams and centers here focus on yoga and meditation courses. It would be a shame if we, as Indians, do not explore it when the rest of the world has taken notice.

Adventure Activities

 
  A tourist having fun of zipline adventure activity


Rishikesh is a delight for adventure lovers. Several operators offer a wide array of adventure activities here ranging from bungee jumping and river rafting to mountain biking. Adventure in Rishikesh can be thrilling experience when done with friends or family. Today’s young generation is always looking for some adventurous moments amidst their daily life. Rishikesh like these give them a chance to enjoy various types of adventure activities. During the seasons, a huge crowd of adventure seekers come to Rishikesh to test their guts at these extreme adventurous sports.

Ganga Aarti

 
  A group of travellers engage in mountaineering activity


Rishikesh is one of the places in India where you can witness a majestic ganga aarti in the evenings. The ambiance during this prayer session is absolutely infectious and will stay with your forever. The devotees also attend the aarti to get the blessing of Ganga. From the lamps to the chants, it is all an experience of a lifetime. The aarti is carried out facing the river. The lamps are lit and circled around by the pandits (Hindu priests) in a clockwise manner, accompanied by changing or songs in praise of Mother Ganga. The idea is that the lamps acquire the power of the deity. After the ritual is complete, devotees will cup their hands over the flame and raise their palms to their forehead in order to get the Goddess’s purification and blessing. The Ganga Aarti happens every evening (rain, hail, or shine!) on the banks of the Ganges River.

The Legend of Laxman Jhula

 
  Pandits performing Ganga Aarti in the evening


The famous bridge in Rishikesh called Lakshman Jhula which lies suspended over River Ganges is 450 ft long and connects Tehri and Pauri district. But did you know the story behind its name? Legend has it that Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana crossed the Ganga using just two jute ropes. To honor his feat, a 284 ft long hanging Rope Bridge was built at the same place and named Lakshman. Until 1889, it was this very rope bridge that was used to cross the river but it was washed away during the floods of October 1924. After this, another bridge was built which opened to public use in 1930. This is still in use but its name remains the same in honor of Lakshmana. If you visit Rishikesh, don’t forget to cross this bridge. On either sides you will see markets where you can shop for idols, semi-precious stones and other knick-knacks. The famous 13-storey Trayambakeshwar Temple is also near Lakshman Jhula. The bridge is worth checking out as it also offers a lovely view.

Gateway to Char Dham

 
  A beautiful view of Laxman Jhula over Ganga river


Rishikesh is also known as gateway to the Char Dham. Char Dham is four popular holy temples on the hills (Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri). The Chardham Yatra is the most popular spiritual yatra starting from April-May and continues till Oct-Nov every year in Uttarakhand India. This is the best time to visit Char Dhams and enjoy the scenic beauty of the environment and nature. Thousands of people attracted every year to Rishikesh for spiritual relief, peace, learn yoga, adventure and to take a dip for salvation. The famous among them were Beatles, Kate Winslet and many more others celebrities. It is believed that by meditation in Rishikesh one can get “Moksha” (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth) as well as holy dip in the river Ganges. You can head to almost any popular destination of Uttarakhand from Rishikesh as it is well-connected to the rest of the state by road.


(For full stories read SAFARI INDIA)