Gateway to spiritual life
The holy city of Rishikesh is located in the Dehradun district of Uttaranchal state, India. It is the gateway to the Garhwal Himalayan mountain range. It lies at a distance of 43 kilometers from the capital city Dehradun. It is believed that Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Lord Hrishikesha-Lord of the senses, before Raibhya rishi, who preformed penance in the lands of Rishikesh and hence the name was given to the place. It was also traditionally known as Kubjamraka and Agni Tirtha, according to the ancient puranas. The official languages of the region are Hindi and Sanskrit, while the locals can speak workable English, for the benefit of the westerners.
The major tourist destinations of Rishikesh are:
Nilakanth Mahadev Temple
This temple is located at a distance of 28 kilometers from Rishikesh, in the middle of dense forests, on a summit. It is considered as a local pilgrimage, to visit this Lord Shiva temple. It is believed that Shiva drunk the venom churned from Sagar Manthan, at this location and his throat had turned blue from the poison. He was named Nilakanth after that.
It literally means the cave of a sage. It is 21 kilometers uphill from Rishikesh. It is a popular place for meditation and there are camping facilities in the vicinity as well.
This beautiful cascade is located at a 2 kilometer walking distance from the Lakshman Jhula.
The evening aarti of the holy river Ganga, at dusk, is worth a sight at the Triveni Ghat! It is the bathing ghat, where one can bathe in the holy water of the river and cleanse one’s sins. It is believed that Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati come together at this ghat. Pinda Shradha is performed at this ghat for one’s ancestors.
It is the oldest temple in Rishikesh. Rabhya rishi had performed penance at this location. An astonishing Shree Yantra is placed at the inner canopy of this temple. The spring festival of Basant Panchmi, is celebrated grandly at this temple.
It literally means Sage’s Pond. There is a Shani Mandir in Rishikund.
The other places of interest in Rishikesh are Lakshman Jhula, Ram Jhula, Geeta Bhawan, Tera Manzil Temple, Kaudiyala, Lakshman Temple, Kunjapuri Devi Temple etc. The holy river Ganga flows through the city and there are several temples constructed on the banks of this river. Since, Rishikesh is a holy city, vegetarian food is served here, by law. The rafting season begins in the month of March and lasts till September and white river rafting is quite famous in Rishikesh.
It is also known to be the ‘World capital of Yoga’ as there are many yoga centers in the area. It is believed that meditating and taking a holy dip in Ganga at Rishikesh, helps one attain salvation. Rishikesh has acclaimed western fame, as several artists have visited the area for meditation and John Lennon also recorded a song ‘The Happy Hrishikesh Song’, as a tribute to the region.