Rishikesh, a known name to all the Hindu devotees around the globe, is a gateway to the major pilgrimages in Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand and itself a pilgrimage city housing numerous ancient and modern temples. Situated around 370 meters above sea level, Rishikesh sits on the foothills of Himalayas gaining appreciation as an ideal start-point for both – the adventurer trekkers and nature lovers for exploration of Himalayan expeditions and the locals of Himalayan belt to enter the northern plains for business and other activities.
Rishikesh lies in Dehradun district of Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand state in India covering Rishikesh city, Muni-ki-Reti, Shivananda Nagar, temple section of Laxman Jhoola and Ashrams on the north. Rishikesh is considered as a sacred region and itself a pilgrimage where the holy river Ganga flows through dividing Rishikesh into two parts.
Rishikesh is a gateway to the most important Hindu pilgrimages in Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand. Char Dham pilgrimages – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath; Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, various Shakti Peethas like Kunjapuri, Surkanda Devi, Chandravadani; famous Sikh Shrine Hemkund Sahib and most trekked national park Valley of flowers. Numerous other pilgrimages can also be reached passing through Rishikesh.
Rishikesh – Mythology
Rishikesh gets its mention in Hindu mythology as a place where Raibhya Rishi (sage) practiced tapasya (austerities) to satisfy lord Vishnu and lord Vishnu happy with Raibhya Rishi’s difficult penance appeared at the place in the form of god Hrishikesh. Thus the place got its name Rishikesh.
Legends say that god Rama performed penance at Rishikesh before killing the demon Ravana. According to Hindu holy epic Ramayana, Ravana kidnapped Sita (Rama’s wife) and Rama fought with Ravana and his arm forces with the help of Hanuman (lord Shiva in the form of monkey to help Rama [lord Vishnu] attain victory over Ravana) and the Banara sena (monkey armed forces).
It is also believed that lord Vishnu killed the demon Madhu at Rishikesh. According to Hindu mythology, Madhu and Kaitav were the two demons produced from the ears of lord Brahma at the time of ‘Shristi’ (Creation). Lord Brahma is the god of creation in Hinduism.
Rishikesh is also known as Agni Tirtha. According to legend, god Agni (fire god) came to vomit the sperm of lord Shiva at this place. Once, when lord Shiva remained with goddess Parvati for years and never came out of his room, Indra – king of the gods – ordered Agni to enter Shiva’s room and bring him out. Agni entered through a hole and appeared in front of Shiva-Parvati in the form of a Bhikshu (beggar). Shiva was angry and nearly cursing te begger when Parvati stopped and asked him to grant something. Fire with anger, lord Shiva handed a sperm to the beggar and shouted him out. The beggar swallowed the sperm and got out of the room. Later Agni came to a jungle of shrub named Kush (a plant considered sacred in Hinduism as believed to be a form of lord Vishnu) and vomited the sperm. The sperm flamed out as it was inside Agni (fire). Thus the place is also called as Agni Tirtha.
Rishikesh – Center for Yoga and Meditation
Rishikesh is the sacred land where gods, sages and saints performed deep austerities, penance and meditation in ancient times. The glorious tradition is enliven till date and is expanding more through the years. Rishikesh is known in international arena as a hub for Yoga and Meditation practices. People from Europe, America and Australia with regard for spiritual practices come to Rishikesh and learn Yoga, practice meditation and take back the knowledge back home to spread spiritual vibes around their settlements.
The sprouting number of Yoga and meditation centers in Rishikesh is the proof of people’s interests towards spiritual practices. Those who want a break from the everyday stress and want to live a simple life join yoga and meditation classes, yoga and meditation teacher training courses and try to apply the knowledge in their everyday life. Rishikesh has become a major destination for the tourists who plan to stay longer and learn yogic skills. Rishikesh is considered to be the world capital of Yoga and Meditation.
The Ganga bank is well covered with Ashrams of sages and saints. It is believed that meditating in Rishikesh and a day stay in the holy land counts equal to the holy dip in the water of Ganga in Rishikesh and it means the attainment of salvation. Thousands of tourists come to Rishikesh to meditate, halt for a night with devotion towards the almighty and take a dip in the holy water of river Ganga.
Rishikesh is well known for its significance in Ayurveda, yoga, meditation, spirituality and spa therapy. The city is a learning center of these special branches which leads to a happier life free of deep materialistic desire.
Rishikesh – Gateway to Char Dham and other Pilgrimages
Rishikesh cannot be avoided by the pilgrims on the way to chhota Char Dham – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – in Uttarakhand state of India. Rishikesh, 24Km from Haridwar is the entering spot for Char Dham Yatra (tour). During the Char Dham Yatra time, Rishikesh witness millions of Hindu pilgrims in reserved buses, jeeps, cabs – in groups. Neelkantha Mahadev temple, a huge temple dedicated to lord Shiva in Tehri Garhwal district is only 28Km from Rishikesh. Rishikesh is the gateway to major Hindu and Sikh pilgrimages in Uttarakhand state.
The route to Char Dham is as follows:
Haridwar – Rishikesh – Dehradun – Mussoorie – Chamba – Tehri – Dharasu – Barkot – Sana Chatti – Hanuman Chatti – Janaki Chatti – Yamunotri – Uttarkashi – Harsil – Gangotri (Gaumukh) – Srinagar – Rudraprayag – Agastyamuni – Phata – Sitapur – Guptakashi – Gaurikund – Kedarnath – Ukhimath – Chopta – Gopeshwar – Chamoli – Pipalkoti – Joshimath – Auli – Govindghat – Hanuman Chatti – Badrinath – Nandprayag – Karnaprayag – Devprayag – Rishikesh
Popular Shopping Items in Rishikesh
Wall paintings and other paintings, which once added glory to the 'havelis' form an integral part of shops of Rishikesh.
Apart from the wall paintings, the wooden furniture is a popular item sold in the bazaars of Rishikesh. Tourists can select from a wide range of carved furniture made of wood that include chairs, tables, cradles, stools, chests from the shops of Rishikesh. Handicrafts of Rajasthan, Kashmir and Tibet are one of the most saleable items of Rishikesh.
For those looking to buy some religious items, the area of Swarg Ashram will be a perfect choice. This area involves in the trading of tapes, beads of Rudraksha, books and clothes of religious importance.
In addition, Ayurvedic medicines are sold in abundance in the Mahesh Yogi Ayurvedic Center of the Laksman Jhula Road.
Junk jewelry forms an important part of shopping in Rishikesh. The shops dotting Lakshman Jhula Bridge are not only famous for selling religious accessories but also famous for selling ornaments, jewelry at a very reasonable rate.
Semi-precious gems and astrological gems are found in abundance in the shopping centers of Rishikesh. The Jaipur center for gems is one of the best shops for buying gems and stones.
Clothes are sold in plenty in Rishkesh markets. While khadis and Nehru shirts are sold like hot cakes in this region, other apparels like Yoga outfits, t-shirts having images Buddha are also bought in abundance. For buying some really good as well as affordable Khadi items, the best place to look out is the handloom emporium that is owned by the state Government. Some other Government approved shops like Craft Shop; Garhwal Wool remain crowded with buyers throughout the year. For buying quality woolen clothes at affordable prices, the best bet are the emporiums that have dotted Rishikesh.
How to Get There:
The hilly town of Rishikesh is located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal). There is no airport in the town. But the nearest airport at Jolly Grant in Dehradun the capital city of the state. The airport is only 35kms away from Rishikesh.
An extensive network of roads connects Rishikesh to the other cities in Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal) and India, namely: Haridwar, Agra, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Delhi and Nainital.
The nearest railhead from Rishikesh is Haridwar. Haridwar is a major railway station in the region. Many express, mail and tourist trains link Haridwar to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Allahabad and so on