6C1liz-langur
6C1liz-langur by Liz Highleyman

Rishikesh India – Best Attractions & Activities

The holy city of Rishikesh is one of those travel destinations that inevitably leave a mark on its visitors. Be it nature attractions, outdoor recreational activities or spiritual retreat, one can hardly remain bored here. From humble temples to wild animals and reflective sun-salutations, the list is just never-ending. Scroll down to get an idea of what the top 10 tourist attractions and activities in Rishikesh look like.

1. Beatles/Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram

Definitely a must-see attraction, both for its unique architecture and the background history. Back in the 60’s, the famous ‘Beatles’ descended on this ashram with a strong desire to immerse themselves into the mysticism of India. Following that, thousands of westerners started flocking here to seek enlightenment and inner peace. Since then, this splendid building has sadly been abandoned and is nowadays overgrown. Nevertheless, we loved the fabulous and colourful interior artwork. You may need good shoes to explore the egg-shaped meditation chambers or halls. Find a trusty local ‘man’ to get you in cheaper (maximum INR300), as they tend to overcharge foreigners. Opening times are from sunrise to sunset.

2. White water rafting

One of the greatest tourist activities for the adventure-lovers is no doubt the white water rafting. Remember, you are in the adventure capital of India, so take advantage of it. Plenty of tour operators cater to your needs for an unforgettable experience in the holy river of Ganges. Enjoy the marvellous green colour of the river and be amazed by the charming surroundings during your rafting journey. Price will be on average INR600/person depending on the chosen distance. Rafting season lasts from mid-September to end of June. Prefer the afternoon hours when the weather is hotter, as the water temperature might be very low. Krishna Holidays operator provides a great customer service.

3. Ganga Aarti

Ganga Aarti is a very impressive devotional ritual held on the Ganges riverbanks during sunset time. Take your time to firstly visit Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Ram Jhula to admire both the peacefulness and the incredible beauty of this place. Before sunset, walk down by the river to get a good spot and then let yourself relax and enjoy the dazzling sunset. Devotees and travellers gather here to make their offerings to the Goddess Ganga: small candles with flowers are left floating down the river. Such a mystical atmosphere can’t help but give you the chills. The whole ‘performance’ is free of charge and takes place daily.

4. Neer Garh Waterfall

This is just one of the many interesting places to visit if you opt for some nature walking. From Rishikesh it’s about an hour walking amidst abundant vegetation. Visit this place for a truly rejuvenating and calming experience and why not, to have a little picnic. Don’t forget to bring extra clothes and a towel so you can dip in one of the two naturally formed pools. Here, we actually had the chance to take some lovely photos. Equally beautiful waterfalls are found elsewhere around Rishikesh, and they won’t disappoint you.

5. Kunjapuri Devi Temple

Undoubtedly one of the greatest tourist attractions around here is the Kunjapuri temple, and rightly so. Located at an altitude of 1600 meters, just 25km far from Rishikesh, this much-visited temple is certainly worth your visit. There are many different ways to reach here: by shared jeep or car, by scooter or even by foot. Our friendly advice: Try to be here very early morning to witness the most astonishing sunrise. It is also advised to cover your knees and shoulders, as is customary in religious places. We particularly enjoyed the panoramic view of the snowy Himalayan mountains, a nothing less than jaw-dropping experience.

6. Bungee jumping

Jumpin Heights is the only operator in Rishikesh that specializes in this extreme sport. They claim to have India’s highest jumping platform, at 83mtrs, and they guarantee a mind-blowing experience. Exceptional safety measures and precautions will make you feel instantly at ease. Leave your scruples aside and go on to try your limits. The same operator offers other extreme adventure sports, such as the flying fox (which, by the way, is the longest in Asia) and the giant swing. Price for bungee jumping or giant swing is INR3550, whereas flying fox comes to INR1800/person.

7. Yoga class

Perhaps the main reason that Rishikesh has gained so much fame among westerners within the last decades is the practice of Yoga. The hundreds of yoga training centers spread around the city will constantly remind you that here is the birthplace of Yoga. If there is no time to undertake a month-long training course, you may as well drop-in for a single yoga class. Choose your favourite type. Beware, though, of the non-professionals in this nowadays business-oriented activity. Make a good research before you decide to spend your money unnecessarily. Classes are offered between 7am till about 7pm and an hour-long lesson will cost on average INR250.

8. Rajaji National Park

The ideal destination to get acquainted with the wildlife scene of Rishikesh’s surroundings is the Rajaji National Park. The impeccable natural beauty of this park will absolutely captivate you. It’s home to many notable animals: Asian elephant, leopard, Bengal tiger and jungle cat to name a few. The park remains open from 15th November to 15th June. Entrance fees are INR150 for Indians and INR600 for foreigners, plus INR50 to bring your still camera. Opening hours are from sunrise to sunset and you need to get an entry permit available at the gates. Bird-watching and jungle safari are among the beautiful things we have enjoyed during our 3-hour visit on the park’s premises.

9. Adventure Camping

For those who simply love being outdoors and enjoy spending nights under the stars, camping is, by all means, your best bet. There is a wide variety of choices as to the camping areas and the combined activities. One tour operator that provides a well-catered service is Red Chilli Adventure. The package includes an overnight stay (or more) in deluxe tents in an alluring camping area, 30km far from Rishikesh. Meals and snacks are also included, but the best part is the adventure activities offered while camping. Try your hand at rock climbing or even rappelling, and you won’t regret it. The cost for one night/two day tour is about INR1800/person.

10. Ayurvedic massage

No trip is complete without treating yourself to an Ayurvedic massage. It is rather easy to spot these massage centres, as they are found in literally every corner of the touristic sides. Definitely one of your stay’s highlights. Aiming to balance both body and mind through selected oil massage, Ayurveda is an integral part of the city’s spirit. Walk in one such centre and try to ‘catch’ the feeling: If the whole atmosphere feels relaxing and welcoming, then give it a go. You won’t pay more than INR800 for a soothing treatment. Usually, Ayurveda centres offer other types of massage as well and they are open from early morning to around 8pm.

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The above-mentioned ‘things to do’ list is a comprehensive short sample of what Rishikesh is able to offer. Keep in mind, nonetheless, that there are many more fascinating tours or landmarks out there to admire and explore. All it takes is your goodwill ????