Rishikesh is town in the Dehradun District of Uttarakhand state in India. Total population of Rishikesh is 75,020 (53% male and 47 % female) as of 2001. Rishikesh is situated at 409 meters above sea level in the foothills of Garhwal Himalayan Range and surrounded by the Shivalik range. Rishikesh is 35 kms far from Haridwar, 90 Kms from Mussoorie, 25 Kms far from Jollygrant airport Dehradun, and 240 kms far from New Delhi. Rishikesh has spectacular view of jungle-clad hills. Rishikesh has also confluence of River Ganges and Chandrabhaga. The glorious attraction of Rishikesh is none other than the great river Ganges herself, running rapidly throughout the city. In the ancient time and still so many yogis, rishis, sages and sannyasis attracted to Rishikesh to practice yoga in this peaceful location. Since then, Rishikesh has known as an abode of sages. Rishikesh is a holy town with so many Ashrams and it is famous for the yoga world wide. Rishikesh is now world famous as a Yoga Capital of the world. Every year during the March month one week long International yoga festival is hosted by Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is also known as gateway to the Char Dham. Char Dham is four popular holy temples on the hills (Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri) Thousands of people attracted every year to Rishikesh for spiritual relief, peace, learn yoga, adventure and to take a dip for salvation. The famous among them were Beatles, Kate Winslet and many more others celebrities. It is believed that by meditation in Rishikesh one can get "Moksha" (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth) as well as holy dip in the river Ganges.
Lakshman Jhula, the famous hanging bridge across Ganga, is about 3 km from the main township of Rishikesh. It is 450 feet long and is situated at a height of 70 feet from the river. As per mythological tales, once Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Rama, crossed river Ganga at the same site where the bridge now stands. At that time, there was only a suspension bridge, made of jute. After this incident, the bridge came to be known as ‘Lakshman Jhula’. With time, the jute bridge eroded and a new iron bridge was built along the same path in 1939.
Lakshman Jhula is actually an adjoining bridge across the Ganga, along the old route to the holy shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath. The jhula has now become one of the most visited tourist spot of Rishikesh, not simply because of its ancient origin and religious sanctity, but also because of the grand temples and wonderful local market have come to be developed around it.
A thirteen storey temple, called Terah Manzil, near the Lakshman Jhula is very popular amongst visitors. The top floor of this temple gives a wonderful view of the surroundings.
Ram Jhula is situated 3 Km north of Rishikesh. It’s a very popular place amongst people coming for religious purposes because it has very known Ashrams. Most known is Geeta Bhawan and Swarg Ashram and these temples are very important in Hindu society and you will see much more commotion here then in Laxman jhula. You can contact the ashrams for accommodation but if you like nature the Laxman jhula area is a better choice.
Everybody coming to the area of Rishikesh should go and see the evening prayer at Geeta Bhawan's ghat (Bank of the river). It’s a special experience to see how Hindus worship the river Ganga. The evening prayer will take about 30 minutes and you can take your camera along with you.
Swarg Ashram is a small township located 5 km upstream from Rishikesh, on the left bank of the Ganges, opposite to Shri Shivananda Ashram. It can be reached by two ways - either by crossing river Ganges by boat or by walking through the Ram/Shivanand Jhula built across the river. The ashram was built in the memory of Swami Vishudhanand, the saint better known as Kali Kamli Wala (the saint with a black blanket) amongst the localities. There are lots of ashrams, temples and caves, inhabited by saints, inside the Swarg Ashram.
Swarg Ashram also encompasses several cafes, stores, shopping complexes, libraries, parks, meditation centers, Ayurvedic dispensaries, restaurants and hotels. The area lies amidst forest hills, with beautiful orchards and an atmosphere that is free from the pollutions of a motorized city. The area consists of a dozens of large ashrams, generally two or three-storey buildings, with hundreds of rooms that serve as residential quarters for priests, pilgrims, students and tourists looking for an economical accommodation.
The aarati happens at a very picturesque place on the banks of Ganga, in front of a Shiva statue built on the river. You see some activity beginning at the riverbank around 5 pm. People start cleaning up the area, lay carpets in preparation for the aarti. A few people are seen selling deep or diya – a flower bowl with a wick lamp to be floated down the river during the Aarti after prayers. It starts at 5:30 pm, with children studying Veda, the Bhajan singers and the performers walking into the ghat in front of Parmarth Niketan. It begins with Bhajans and prayers for ‘Gangaji’ and Shiva.
The Aarti at Rishikesh is a contrast to it, held in a small place with a few people and is a relatively quite affair. You can sit quietly in a corner and witness the ritual or join the crowds singing Bhajans with them. As the sun sets and it gets slightly darker, the Shiva statue is lighted up and it looks beautiful. The aarti continues with lamps in various shapes and sizes lighted up, and passed on from people to people.
The whole place lights up to a spirited mood with lamps swinging in the hands of people. It lasts for an hour and winds up around 6:30 pm in the evening with the notes of “jai jai radharamana hari bol…”.
Triveni Ghat is the most popular place in Rishikesh where many people take a holy dip to wash away all their sins. What makes it more popular is the fact that it is believed to be at the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Hundreds of people attend the Ganga Aarti every evening at Triveni Ghat.
Triveni Ghat has a significant place in Hindu Mythology and Puranas. This ghat was mentioned many places in Purana and great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is believed that Lord Krishna paid a visit to this holy spot after he was hit by an arrow shot by Jara, a hunter. This is a highly revered place in Samantha.
Nilkanth Mahadev Temple is an ancient temple situated at a height of 1675 m, on a hill above Swarg Ashram. It stands adjacent to the mountain ranges of Nar-Narayan, at a distance of approximately 20 km from Rishikesh. It is enveloped between the valleys of Manikoot, Brahmakoot and Vishnukoot. Pankaja and Madhumati, two perennial rivers, meet in confluence at this enormously-rich religious site. The place is surrounded by dense forests and beautiful rivers, making the location a mesmerizing scenic vista.
Mythological tales say that 'Neelkanth Mahadev Temple' is the sacred location where Lord Shiva consumed that venom from ocean. The temple was established to pay regards to him. The temple has an ancient architecture and a beautiful complex, comprising of a one natural spring where devotees take a holy bath before entering the premises of the temple. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple houses a 'Shiv Lingam', the idol of the presiding deity in a phallic form.
The devotees who pay a visit to 'Nilkanth Mahadev Temple ' make an offering of coconut, flowers, milk, honey, fruits and water to the Lord and get 'Parshad', the holy gift from God, in forms of 'vibhuti' (ashes), 'chandan' (sandal-wood) and other holy things from the shrine. There is a special aura about the temple, which fills devotional hearts with celestial pleasure. This is the reason why it is visited by thousands of devotees every year.
Bharat Mandir (Temple) is situated in the heart of the township of Rishikesh. It is approximately half kilometer away from the Triveni Ghat, the famous river bank in the town. Said to be the oldest temple in Rishikesh, it is also regarded as one of the most ancient shrines in India. According to historical evidences, Adiguru Shankracharya, the great theologian, laid the foundation stone of Bharat Mandir (Temple). The temple has been named after Lord Ram's second brother 'Bharat'; however the presiding deity of this temple is Lord Vishnu, 'the Preserver'.
The statue of God Narayana (Vishnu), enshrined in Bharat Mandir (Temple), is of black stone, carved out from a single piece of Saligram. The image has a noticeably Himalayan appearance. Though the temple's main deity is Lord Vishnu, it holds a number of other illustrations as well, generally related to Lord Shiva, the Destroyer. The idol of Lord Hrishikesh Bharatji is also installed in this temple. The idol was obscured in the Maya Kund of the temple, in order to save it from the attack of the Boddha people.
Kunjapuri Devi temple is considered as one of the 52 Shaktipeeth / Shaktipeetha/ Shaktipeetham .Kunja Puri, one of the thitrteen most important Goddesses of Shivalik range , the lower Himalayas.One can witness excellent sunrise or sun set on the Greater Hiamalayan Peaks and the vast Indo Gangetic plains . One can see almost all the peaks of Garhwal Himalayas from here e.g Banderpunch ,Swarga Rohini , Gangotri ,Chaukhamba .
Kunjapuri Devi Temple recieves devotees from far away places and during Navratri and Dussehra Festival, a grand celebration held at the temple. Kunjapuri Devi Temple is also completes the triangle of three Siddha Peeths lying on top of mountains in Tehri Garhwal district. Kunja Puri-Surkanda Devi-Chandrabadni makes the the triangle of Siddha Peeths.