Rishikesh India – Your Quick Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, in northern India, lies the paradise of yogis and the heaven of adventure seekers. Straddling the river of Ganges, Rishikesh is a magical place with a mysteriously transformative power.
Why go to Rishikesh
Rishikesh has nothing to envy to India’s larger cities. With a huge variety of sightseeing places and activities, one may easily fill their day without feeling bored. From yoga training centres to exhilarating rafting experiences, this place is meant to satisfy every taste.
Spread along the holy river, numerous yoga centres offer everything – from drop-in classes to teacher training certifications. One will soon notice why this city is considered the Yoga Capital of the World. No wonder why. The options are endless: be it laughter yoga classes or tantric group sessions, here you will find everything. Meditation classes or 10-day courses are also available in and around Rishikesh.
Moreover, Rishikesh is the gateway to Chota Char Dham, the four important Hindu pilgrimage spots of the Himalayan region. It is more than interesting to see how the devotees worship their Gods and dip in the river to ‘cleanse their souls’.
However, Rishikesh is not all about spiritual search. The place is also suitable for the adventure lovers, as one may find themselves enjoying a variety of activities from bungee jumping to camping in the forest. White river rafting is another popular activity. Whatever your preference is, Rishikesh has it all. Impressive Hindu temples, abundant ashrams (Hindu-style monasteries) and incredible nature are calling you to explore them.
When to go to Rishikesh
The best time to visit would be between the end of September to November and February to April, when the weather is splendid and the Ganges river is at its best. Avoid the full rainy and extra hot summer months from May to September. December and January are very quiet months and ideal for those who prefer chilly nights.
Where to stay in Rishikesh
As Rishikesh is a very touristic destination and busy year-round, there is no lack of accommodation options and in general they offer a great value for your money. Different types of accommodation include guesthouses, homestays or resorts usually found on the outskirts of the city.
Guesthouses are the most common ones, as literally hundreds of them are scattered around the city and are an ideal choice for those on a very low to average budget. Prices start from INR150 to INR1000/person.
Almost all types of accommodation offer wifi, hot shower and ceiling fans. There are also very few dormitory options, mostly for young backpackers who don’t mind sharing bathroom and kitchen facilities.
Resorts are way more expensive, but you may get a pool if that’s what you are looking for.
Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula are the two most popular riverside areas that provide more choices compared to the city centre.
What and where to eat in Rishikesh
As far as food is concerned, well, you are in India, so it’s rather impossible to run out of food choices. You will find primarily quite cheap food, either at local restaurants or on the street. As a rule of thumb, local dhabas (restaurants) or street food joints are always cheaper than western restaurants. However, there are options for the low budgets as well as the high ones. International cuisine like Chinese, Italian, Tibetan and other European are very common here.
Certainly not to be missed is the masala chai (spicy black tea with milk) and samosas (fried dish with spicy filling, such as potatoes, lentils or onions). You can find both of them on chai stands across the city. Keep in mind that Rishikesh is one of India’s holy cities, and as such, neither meat nor alcohol is allowed. Your choices are solely vegetarian or vegan. But very delicious ones.
How to get around Rishikesh
The way to get around India’s cities is actually a fun way to meet this chaotic country. Once you are here, you will understand why. On a single main street of Rishikesh, one may see cars, trucks, people, scooters, even cows and donkeys. And this seems to be working surprisingly fine. The most touristic areas can be effortlessly walked from one end to the other. It’s, anyway, a very pleasant walk as cars are not permitted here (only jeeps for rafting and scooters). However, in order to go downtown, you will need to get a rickshaw (a three-wheeled form of transportation) just for INR100. A tantalizing experience.
Another popular way to get around is the scooter. You should definitely rent an Indian scooter for a unique driving experience. It might be frustrating at the beginning, but soon you discover how effectively a horn works.
Taxis are not very common and are surely pricier.
How to get to and from Rishikesh
Rishikesh and all big cities in India are well connected with each other by all means of transportation. It means that there are many different ways to get to and from Rishikesh.
By far your fastest choice, but also the most expensive one, is by plane. The nearest airport, Jolly Grant, is located just 21 km away from the city. Taxi from the airport will cost you approximately INR1400.
In case you land in Delhi, you have several options to get to Rishikesh. The first one is to hop on a bus for a 7-hour drive from Delhi to Rishikesh. ‘Pure’ local bus will cost you only INR244, but remember that the journey will be extremely bumpy. If you take a more modern bus, with A/C, the ticket will be about INR550. It is definitely a comfier choice, although you may not want to occupy the front seats and watch the road ahead.
Another option is to take a train from New Delhi train station to Haridwar. The train usually takes about 6 hours and tickets cost from INR170 up to INR1100, depending on the class. From Haridwar, take a bus which will bring you to Rishikesh in less than an hour.
There is also an option to travel with much more comfort in a taxi for INR2500-INR5200. The journey will last about 5 hours.
By bus and train
Getting from Rishikesh to other destinations around India is pretty easy, since there are numerous buses leaving from the bus station of Rishikesh. The same goes for the trains, which leave from the nearby city of Haridwar. You don’t have to book in advance for local buses, but for trains or other buses, it’s advised to do so.
A nice suggestion is to travel overnight by car or bus, since there is significantly less traffic on the road. During daytime, it might be somewhat irritating to get stuck for a good two hours till you escape from Delhi’s torturing traffic.
As for the trains, they have these fascinating sleeper classes, where you can easily catch a night’s sleep and you reach your destination before you realize it. Most of them also have decent toilets and nice chai on the go.
The great advantage of using trains or buses is that you get the chance to meet locals and observe their habits; perhaps the most important aspect of visiting a place.
Is Rishikesh a safe place to visit?
All in all, Rishikesh is a very safe place to walk around, even for a solo female traveller. Of course, it does require a certain level of common sense to recognize possible hazards and keep away. Health care is not the best, but there are a few big hospitals in the city centre, just in case.