The World Capital of Yoga
|Type of Tourism||: Pilgrimage, Surfing|
|Area||: 11.20 Square Km|
|Population||: 59,671 (As per Indian census- 2001)|
|Altitude||: 372 meters|
|Best Tourist Season||: All round the year|
|Clothing recommended||: Cotton in summer, Heavy Woolen in winter|
|Languages spoken||: Garhwali, Hindi, English|
|Telephone Code||: India (01364), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 249201|
|What to buy||: Spices like Cardamom, Cumin, Cinnamon, Cloves, Brassware, Trinkets, Ornaments, local Handicrafts made out of beads, shells, pearls, Ethnic Clothes, Shoes, Nehru Shirts, Khadi, Yoga Style Clothing, Warm Nepalese Clothing, Metal Travel Cups (kamandalu), Rudraksha Garlands, Postcards, Wall Paintings, Wooden Furniture, Religious Items like CDs, Books, Photographs, Idols, Puja Items, Ayurvedic Medicines, Imitation Jewellery, Gems, Ganga Jal, Kashmiri, Tibetan Handicrafts, Garhwal Wool, etc.|
|Shopping Tips||: do not forget to bargain and do not overpay. There will be plenty of shops selling similar articles so do not shop in haste.|
|Food Specialties||: Ayurvedic and Health Food, Season Fruits, Papayas, Veggies, Popcorn, Warm Cookies, Nuts, Jalebis, Imartis, Samosas, Other Indian Snacks, Masala Chai, Ayurvedic Teas, Lassi, Coffee.|
|Local transportation||: On foot, Auto Rickshaw, Bus, Taxi.|
|Other Attractions||: White Water Rafting, Kayaking, Rappelling, Rock Climbing, Cliff Jumping, Trekking, Camping, Bungee Jump, Jungle Vibes, Yoga, etc.|
Rishikesh, spelled in several other ways viz. Rushikesh, Hrushikesh or Hrishikesh is a municipal corporation of Dehradun District in the state of Uttarakhand. Nestled at the footings of the Himalayan Mountain Ranges, Rishikesh is bounded by two other districts of Uttarakhand namely Pauri Garhwal and Tehri Garhwal. Placed approximately 25 kilometers from the holy city Haridwar, Rishikesh is yet another sacred civic blessed by the perpetual presence of the Lord Vishnu. Bestowed upon with a title: ‘The Gateway to the Himalayas’ Rishikesh is the honored locus from where the highly revered ‘Char Dham Yatra’ i.e. a pilgrimage to four sanctified Shrines: Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri practically commences. Graphically located in the proximity with the site where the most hallowed river of India; the Ganges surges down the Himalayan cordillera and converges with Chandrabhaga, Rishikesh beckons millions of pilgrims as well as tourists both from India and oversees every year.
The term Rishikesh has derived from two words ‘Rishik’ and ‘Ish’. Rishik or Hrishik means senses and Ish means Lord. Rishikesh or Hrishikesh is a name dedicated to Lord Vishnu which means ‘the Lord of the Senses’. It is believed that Lord Vishnu appeased with the severe penance of a sage named ‘Raibhya Rishi’ had appeared before him as ‘Rishikesh’ under a mango tree here. Rishikesh is a compound term used for the potpourri of five regions namely; Rishikesh city, a suburb town Muni-ki-Reti (sands of the sages), Shivananda Nagar, Lakshman Jhula and Swarg Ashram along with the surrounding Ashrams. Widely reckoned as ‘the World Capital of Yoga’, Rishikesh city throngs with various Yoga centers. It is believed that you attain the state of Moksha (salvation) if you meditate in the holy land of Rishikesh.
Rishikesh, endowed with infinite natural beauty augmented by the lofty sierras of the Himalayas, the sin cleansing river of Ganga and a number of ancient and recent temples is a home to scores of religious and tourist destinations including Triveni Ghat, Lakshman Jhula, Gita Bhavan, Swarg Ashram, Trayambakeshwar Temple etc. The evening Ganga Aarti is a captivating prospect to behold when the river Ganges is illuminated with thousands of lamps lighted by the devotees. Haridwar is a neighboring pilgrim place and Dehradun and Mussoorie are two next door hill resorts crammed with supreme natural pulchritude. Apart from its spiritual appeal, Rishikesh also attracts myriads of tourists and adventure seekers to indulge in the exciting water sports and other venturesome activities available here such as, White Water Rafting, Kayaking, Rappelling, Rock Climbing, Cliff Jumping, Trekking, Camping, Bungee Jump, Jungle Vibes, etc. A worth mentioning fact about the city Rishikesh is it’s an utterly vegetarian and teetotaler civil by law and even the use of plastic bags is totally forbidden here.
Mythological Background of Rishikesh
The mythological genesis of Rishikesh leads us back to the ‘Pauranik Kal’ when as stated in the Skanda Purana this region was known as ‘Kubjamrak’ as Lord Vishnu had appeared here under a mango tree. Rishikesh belonged to the celebrated province of ‘Kedarkhand’ (Garhwal) and it is supposed that Lord Rama had performed a Tapasya (penance) here before killing the demon king Ravana. This hypothesis is further supported by the presence of the Lakshman Jhula which is believed to have been built at the very place from where Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Rama had crossed the river Ganga. The Kedarkhand of Skanda Purana also acknowledges the existence of the ‘Indrakund’ at the very place it is situated today. Moreover, Rishikesh is assumed to be the site where Lord Vishnu had destroyed a demon named Madhu. Tapovan of Rishikesh is supposed to be the venue where Lakshman had carried out meditations and penances. The Neelkanth Mahadev Temple of Rishikesh is approved to be the locale where Lord Shiva had consumed the venom at the time of the ‘Samudra Manthan’ (churning of the ocean). Thus, Rishikesh is the divine city consecrated by the inhabitance of a number of Hindu deities. Thousands of pilgrims horde the city every year in order to pay homage at the temples of Rishikesh, take a dip into the sacred river Ganga and attain salvation by meditating here.
Rishikesh in Modern Culture
Rishikesh made its mark in popular culture when in February 1968 ‘The Beatles’ visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram (now closed) of Rishikesh. John Lennon composed a song ‘The Happy Rishikesh Song’ which made this city famous on world platform. The Beatles recorded about 48 songs during their stay at the Ashram. These songs appeared in an album titled ‘White Album’.