A rendezvous with Rishikesh

Also known by multiple names like “Teerth Nagri”, “Yog Nagri” and “Yog City”, situated in the state of Uttarakhand, is Rishikesh, which is the name of Lord Vishnu, and which means “Lord of the senses”. It is believed that Lord Vishnu appeared as Lord Rishikesh, as a consequence of continuous prayers (or tapasya) from Rabhiya Rishi. Also called the Gateway to Himalayas, Rishikesh is a sacred place owing to the mythology tagged with it and the presence of oh-so-many temples, shrines and ashrams.

Rishikesh is a place for one and all. There are sacred and religious places to visit to suffice the middle aged and old aged people, a plethora of adventure sports to satisfy the vacation of teenagers, and places like Ram Jhula, Lakshman Jhula, and the Chotiwala restaurant to add to the fun and entertainment of the even younger lot.

Initially, talking about the sacrosanctity of the place, the presence of the holy Ganges, the shrines, the temples and the mythology makes it a must visit place. It is believed that Lord Rama paid remorse for killing the ling of Lanka, Ravana, here only, where now the Ram Jhula is built. The Lakshman Jhula is built to lay testimony to the fact that Lakshman crossed the Ganges at that point. These were jute rope bridges, which were later converted to stronger iron-rope suspension bridges, as the former got damaged due to floods. However, there are more places which are worth paying a visit to. The Neelkantha Mahadeva Temple structured amidst forests and situated 12 kms away from Rishikesh, is a very popular place amongst the locals there. Another such place is the Vasishtha Gufa, which is 21 kms up from the town by the Ganges.
Rishikesh has always been an important part of television as well, as it is the starting point for progressing towards the char dhams, due to which it has been aired on many television shows as well.

There is more to Rishikesh than just temples and shrines: It has started to become a familiar spot for teenagers and the ones who love adventure. Owing to the presence of hilly structures and the Ganges, activities like White river rafting, mountaineering, trekking, rock climbing and many more have become a source of income for locals and a source of intense fun for tourists.

Shivpuri, a place nearby Rishikesh, adds to the euphoria of white river rafting by having camps alongside the Ganges, which makes fit for an altogether different and unique experience. The camp sites are well equipped and do not make you feel hostile. Proper bedding and towels are provided and a sense of decent accommodation can be felt.

The rafting, for which Rishikesh has gained popularity among the young populace is there for the taking for both the veterans as well as the inexperienced, with experts taking care of all by accompanying them in the rafts. Apart from providing the thrill that it promises, the 17 kms rafting is different in the way it makes you observe and appreciate the beauty of the town even more.

However, the best time to visit Rishikesh for rafting would be during the months of September-November and March-May, owing to the sufficiency of water during these months. Having said that, the sufficiency of water, also provides for more activities like cliff jumping that do more than just adding to the thrill. The experts do take care of the fact that no mishaps happen, and they are highly successful. However, in case of any, they are very well equipped with first aid.

Jim Corbett National Park: Do make a note of visiting this place if you plan to visit Rishikesh, because the Jim Corbett National Park is just as fascinating. And with the added specialties of a jeep safari, or the elephant safari (which is inexplicably exciting), the place has shot to an increase in the number of visitors over the years.

In addition to the blend of adventure sports and religious structures, the presence of a large number of restaurants pose in front of you, a problem of plenty. However, one of the famous and the oldest one is the Chotiwala restaurant. At the entry of the restaurant, sits a bald person with a long choti. As they say, it is impossible to make him laugh and he bears a stern and stone cold look. Kids can be seen wondering about the truce of this fact, and one can see kids trying to make him laugh, which can bring a smile on one’s face.

Rishikesh, being a land so pure, and a land of the Lords, caters to only vegetarian consumption, and non-veg can nowhere be seen. That is understandable, and one won’t feel the need of non-veg once they get a taste of the healthy stuff served.

If one needs to have a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, if one desires to bask in the glory of beautiful sceneries, then there is no better place that provides peace, beauty and adventure, wrapped up as one.

Animesh Ganguly

Image Source: [http://www.indialine.com/travel/images/rishikesh-ganga-ghat.jpg]