Rishikesh is located in the foothills of the Himalayas in the North of India. It is also known as the Gateway to Garhwal Himalayas. Located 25 Kms North of Haridwar and about 43Kms South East of the state capital Dehradun, Rishikesh is the 7th largest city in the state of Uttrakhand.
Rishikesh, the ancient city of temples and ashrams is well known for a variety of things. Be it the serene and majestic river Ganges, ghats, ritual prayers and ceremonies, yoga schools or bristling meditation centers, it is a place where one can easily loose self and experience totality.
An excellent tourist hotspot, Rishikesh is situated at the Himalayan foothills some 250 Kms from Delhi. By road it takes 5-6 hours if you start early. By train one can travel over night from Old Delhi station till Haridwar and take a connecting train to Rishikesh which takes 45 minutes to cover the short distance between the spiritual grounds.
Legend has it that Rishikesh is one of the places where the Holy Nectar was hidden to save it from the demons and a drop of it fell on the ground. It is hard not to believe this when you experience marked calm and tranquility in this place.
Rishikesh is famous for Laxman Jhool and Ram Jhoola, which are two suspension bridges linking the town with the highway over river Ganges. The bridges are about 500 meters away and a beautiful sight, yes. Walking over the bridge, you can feel it vibrate and sway to the winds. The locals and children sell wheat balls to travelers, to feed the fishes in the river. Its fun. You will be amazed to see a lot of fishes swishing in the water as you throw a wheat ball. In Hindu mythology, its considered good to feed the fishes.
Crossing over the bridge you will reach the holy grounds with colorful temples and small but abundant and gentle cows. A great place to eat is Chotiwala restaurant, which is famous for a Chotiwala sitting on the pedestal outside the restaurant.
Walking around Rishikesh is meditation in itself. You can’t help but feel at home. There are numerous home restaurants and roof top cafe’s which serve every cuisine you can think of. Israeli, Italian, continental, you name it, and its there. For those who wish to visit Neelkanth Shiv Temple, its convenient to take a shared taxi from the Neelkanth Taxi Stop. The distance is 12 Kms, mostly even till 4-5 kms and then gets steep till you reach dizzying heights to this beautiful temple.
Neelkanth means Blue Throat, or The Blue Throated One, which is a reference to Lord Shiva. According to legends Neelkanth is the axis of Sagar Manthan which was done jointly by Gods and Demons. Along with Nectar, also came out Poison, which noone wanted to take, and so Lord Shiva drank it, but stopped it in his throat coloring it blue. One can see the legends and scene beautifully sculpted on the temple parapet. A trip to Neelkanth and back will take just 2-3 hours and if you go by shared taxis, will cost about Rs60/-.
River Rafting and Camping in Rishikesh:
Beyond Rishikesh, as you continue on NH58, you will see beach camps down by the river side. The regions famous for beach camps are Shivpuri, Byasi, Marine Drive and Kaundiyala. For those of you who would like to experience something more adventurous, camping, river rafting in Ganges, rock climbing, cliff jumping, body surfing and other activities are offered at these camps. Shivpuri is 16 Kms from Rishikesh and has some of the budget camp sites, which offer 9 -16 Kms of River Rafting packages.
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