Want a mix of spirituality and adventure? Try visiting the holy city of Rishikesh.
Where: Rishikesh is located at the foothills of the Himalayas, in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India. The sacred river Ganga flows through this city. There are many temples here and it is not far away from the holy city of Haridwar.
Must-do: The rough rapids of the Ganga, provide for excellent white water rafting, thereby attracting many tourists every year. There are many tour operators that provide 2-3 day packages. A typical package of one night and two days would cost around Rs. 1850 per person. On the first day, you arrive at Shivpuri and then transferred to the base camp. Huge tents are provided with beds. These camps are on the riverbed. Post lunch you could explore the area and take a walk in the jungle. You could also play volleyball. The golden sand, the calm waters, and the snow-capped mountains around, really make you feel as if you are in paradise. In the evening, you could sit by the bonfire and have dinner. The rest of the night is spent relaxing in the tents, enjoying the soothing weather. It is a night well spent and makes you feel like a true camper.
On the second day, breakfast is provided in the morning, and then you head for your rafting trip. The guides bring all the equipment to your camp. Life jackets are provided to everyone. There could be a maximum of 5-6, excluding the 2 guides, in each raft.. The journey begins from Shivpuri to Rishikesh. Initially, the waters are calm but, as you slowly move ahead, the river gets deep and fierce. The rapids hit you with such strong force, that you feel the adrenaline rush inside. It will probably be the best experience of your life! When the waters are calm, the guides might let you a take a dip into the 200 feet deep waters of Ganga, with you holding onto a rope obviously. The journey continues and you float past the Ghats and temples. The journey ends once you are back at Shivpuri. And don’t forget to carry home some Gangajal.
Other activities at Rishikesh include canoeing, trekking, cliff jumping.
Must-visit: Lakshman Jhula is one of the landmarks of Rishikesh, built in 1939 AD. It is a 450 feet long, iron suspension bridge made over the Ganga to cross the river. It has been said that Lakshman, brother of Lord Rama, once crossed the Ganga on a suspension bridge made of jute. The Lakshman Jhula is said to be built on the same site.
Rishikesh is said to be the starting point for travelling to the ‘Char Dham’- Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. It is said that one must pay a visit to these temples at least once in his life. The temples have been beautifully carved, and you truly feels as though you are among the Gods.
How to get there: Rishikesh does not have its own airport but the nearest airport is Jolly Grat Airport (35 kms away) in Dehradun. The nearest railway station is at Haridwar (24 kms away). There is an extensive network of roads connecting Rishikesh to different towns and cities. The city is about 230 kms away from Delhi and a bus journey from there will be about 5-7 hours.
The people here are known as ‘Paharis’ meaning ‘people of the hills’, and belong mainly to Garhwala and Kumoaon areas. Rishikesh being home to many temples, you’ll find the city filled with ‘Sadhus’. Rishikesh is famous for its Shekhawati paintings, ayurvedic medicines and semi-precious stones. Non-vegetarian food is banned in the city, but you could feast on authentic north-Indian food. It also hosts the International Yoga Festival in the month of February. All in all, the city gives you a feeling of thrill and peace at the same time, which makes it a memorable visit.