Rishikesh is a naturally attractive place at the foothills of the lower Himalayas in the state of Uttaranchal in India. The importance of this holy city lies in the fact that it serves as a gateway to other religiously important centers like Kedarnath, Gangotri, Badrinath and Yamunotri.
Rishikesh, literally means Lord of the Senses, stands for Lord Vishnu and the city is blessed with the flowing of Holy Ganges. The city is a hub of many ancient and new temples, attracting thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. The popular belief of Hindu devotees is that performing austerities in this holy town and offering prayers in the holy temples brings the much needed attainment of 'Mukthi', the salvation.
The main attractions in this exciting tourist and religious spot include Gita Bhavan, Nilkanth Mahadev, Lakshman Jhula, Swarga Ashram and Triveni Ghat, all the places having great religious importance. Rishikesh and other nearby places like Dehradun and Mussoorie makes a good interesting and amazing excursion getaways.
Rishkesh is renowned for numerous Yoga centers, and perfectly termed as the World Capital of Yoga, offering training of Yoga and many other spiritual activities. This is a place to attain peace and tranquility. Many water sports activities like white water rafting and adventurous activities like wild forest trekking can be enjoyed in Rishikesh.
This suspended bridge running from one bank of Ganga to other is the landmark of the city. It was built in 1939. The legend behind it states that Lakshman crossed a bridge made of jute ropes here on river Ganga. The view from the bridge itself is panoramic. The mountains covered in green belt, the waters flowing below, a cool breeze, all these together make Lakshman Jhula a great place to visit. You can also feed the fish in the river below from the bridge itself, the fish gather at the place where people drop food for them. To take a better view of the Jhula, one can take a boat ride in the river below, the scene with Lakshman Jhula in the foreground and green mountains in the background make a picturesque view and you can also feed the fish while you are in the boat. Ram Jhula, a similar structure to Lakshman Jhula is a more recent addition to the city. Also known as Shivanand Jhula, it connects Shivanand ashram with Swarg ashram.
It is the main bathing ghat in Rishikesh where every morning several devotees take a dip in the holy waters of Ganga. The Ghat is so named because it is believed that this is the place of confluence of three holiest Hindu rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Sarswati. This is the place where River Ganga takes a complete right angle turn. The most enchanting experience here is that of the evening aarti. Scores of devotees stand on the steps of the ghat at this time. The priests perform the rituals, the golden flames come out of large pure ghee lamps (being rotated in set circular motions), vedic chants fill the air in praise of goddess of River Ganga and the conchs in the temples on the Ghat fill the air with their sound. The spiritualness in the air mesmerises one beyond expression and no matter what religion the people on the ghat belong to, their soul cannot remain untouched by this. What follows is even more spectacular. Turning the waters into golden, people float leaf boats into the river with flowers and lamps burning in them. Eyes follow these lamps as they go with the flow of the river. This small ceremony of ownership symbolizes hope, remembrance and wishes for future.
Nilkanth Mahadeo Temple
At a height of approximately 5500 feet is the famous temple of Nilkanth Mahdeo. It is situated at a hill top above Swarg ashram. Legend goes that this was the place where lord Shiva had drank venom which had come out from churning the sea. After drinking it, his neck had turned blue with the poison and hence he was called 'Neelkanth', the one with blue neck. To visit this most revered temple of Rishikesh, jeeps are available from Lakshman Jhula. Every year in the months of monsoon - mid July to August - fairs are held here. There is also a fresh water spring within temple complex where people take bath before paying a visit to the temple. .
This is the oldest temple in Rishikesh built by Adiguru Shankaracharya in 12th century. Dedicated to Bharat, younger brother of Lord Ram, it is situated in the old town near Triveni Ghat. Details about temple are available in ancient records of Kearkhand. The original temple was destroyed by Tamur during his invasion in 1398. However, many important things are well preserved till date here. In the inner sanctum there is an idol of Lord Vishnu carved out of a single Saligram (the divine stone of Mahavishnu). There is also a Shriyantra placed on the canopy above that was places here by Adi Shankaracharya. Recent excavations have revealed more about the rich history of the temple. Old statues, coins, pots and other things have been discovered from the premises of the temple.
Kailash Niketan Temple
Crossing Lakshman Jhula, the main temple you will see is Kailash Niketan Temple. It is a 13 storey structure slightly different from regular temples. The temple has sculptures of all the gods and goddesses.