Shah Jahan once stated in reference to Kashmir, ‘If there is a paradise on earth- it is this, it is this…’ And I can vouch for the fact that the great mughal emperor never ventured into a land called Rishikesh for he would have had to eat back his own words. But if one of you ever dare to, please venture at your own risk for such is its overwhelming beauty that you’ll be driven insane for joy and everything else on earth and possibly Heaven itself shall never seem beautiful again. Were Forbes to come out with a list of the ‘top 50 destinations to visit before you die’, I’m sure the contest shall be for only 49 spots as the top spot is already taken. Rishikesh is one bewitching lady who will smite you irrespective of age and gender; and maybe it doesn’t even matter if you’re human or not!
Situated at the confluence of the Ganga and the Chandrabhaga stream, a mere 40 kms from Dehradun, the holy city is where Raibhya rishi is believed to have done penance to appease the lord Hrishikesh and hence the name. Rishikesh comprises three areas: around the spot where the famous Laxman Jhoola bridge spans the river and lends its name to the locality; Muni-ki-Reti, literally Sands of the Sages, where yogis spent time in meditation; and the expanding township on the banks of the river. The entire sprawling complex of river, sand and concrete is called Rishikesh.
The best season to visit is between May and November for the weather is just perfect; it also makes sense to mention that this is the peak tourist traffic time and people who prefer serenity and quiet would be wise to visit in the off-peak season for the beauty, if anything, gets heightened when silence is infused into the awe-inspiring setting. If road be chosen as the medium of transit, Rishikesh is 238 kms from Delhi and 23 kms from Haridwar, which is well connected by rail to Howrah (1438 kms), Bombay (1574 kms), Delhi (199 kms), Lucknow (475 kms), Agra (365 kms). Jolly Grant airfield, 35 km from Haridwar, is the nearest airport.
The place has something to offer to everyone; the plethora of tastes catered to is simply stupendous. The temples and the renowned Ganga aartis (extolment for the Ganga) sound an inescapable call to the spiritual ones. Some of the countless temples include the Someshwar temple, the Chandreshwar temple and the oldest of them all- the Bharat Mandir. The beckoning is further intensified considering the fact that the Laxman Jhoola and the Neel Kanth Mahadev Mandir were constructed in celebration of Lord Laxman’s tapasya and Lord Shiva’s drinking of the poison from the churning of the cosmic ocean respectively. The aarti performed at sunset at the Triveni Ghat captivates even the strongest atheist and hope and jubilance flow through the air.