Rishikesh Is a small pretty town and one of the most holy places for Hindus, in the state of Uttarakhand, North India. It is situated at an altitude of about 1,360 feet above sea level and is located in the lap of the lower Himalayas. The sacred River Ganga (Ganges) flows through Rishikesh. In fact, it is here that the river Ganga leaves the Shivalik mountains in the Himalayas and flows out into the plains of North India. Several temples, ancient as well as modern, can be found along the banks of the River Ganga in Rishikesh.
The city attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists each year, from within India, as well as from all around the world. Rishikesh is also famous as the, “the world capital of Yoga,” as it has numerous yoga centres. It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of moksha, as does bathing in the holy River Ganga that flows through it. Rishikesh is also the home to the 120 year old “Kailash Ashram Brahmavidya Peetham,” an institution dedicated to preserve and promote the traditional Vedantic Studies.
In February 1968, the Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogis Ashram (now closed) in Rishikesh. John Lennon even recorded a song here, titled, “The Happy Rishikesh Song.” The Beatles composed nearly 48 songs during their time at the Maharishi’s ashram, many of which appear on the White Album. Several other artists, including Mike Love, of The Beach Boys, Donovan and Gyp Mills, visited the site to contemplate and meditate. More recently, the place has been visited by Hollywood star Kate Winslet.
Shopping in Rishikesh is a happy and enjoyable experience. One can get many items which are useful for everyday life from the small shops in and around the town. Many religious and temple-related articles like Rudraksha, Ganesha idols, Nataraja statues, religious books and mythological sculptures are available here at moderate rates. Clothes, Kurtaz and Salwar Kumeez (traditional Indian dress), and beautiful knitted garments are a specialty of this area. Handicraft items made of shells, pearls and beads are other attractions in the shops of Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is also acquiring greater significance as a centre for water sports such as white water rafting and kayaking on the river Ganga. Rishikesh also offers challenging spots for trekking, hiking and rock climbing in the beautiful Garhwal Himalayas.
The majestic Himalayas, the holy river Ganga, myths and legends, ancient temples, yoga institutions, meditation centres, water sport activities, rishi and sages make Rishikesh a peaceful destination where the tourist finds peace in mind and soul.