Rishikesh or 'Hrishikesh' that is set at a height of 532 metres above sea level and about 227 km from Delhi takes approximately 5 hours to reach by car. It is also popularly known as the 'Gateway to the Himalayas' and the 'World Capital of Yoga and Meditation' is a famous adventure water sports destination and a Pilgrim Centre that provides an excellent weekend getaway for adventure enthusiasts and spiritual seekers.
Rishikesh forms a part of the Dehradun District in Uttarakhand State of India situated on the foothills of the Majestic Himalayas that always attracts visitors from across the globe looking for a peaceful, tranquil and scenic surrounding. It was named after Lord Vishnu which means 'Lord of Senses' after he appeared to Rishi Raibhya who performed the ritual of penance. As per the Skanda Purana, Lord Vishnu appeared to the Rishi under a mango tree and hence, this place was named as 'Kubjamrak' in ancient times.
Rishikesh was historically a part of 'Kedar-Khand', a legendary town that means the 'Abode of Lord Shiva' which is today known by all as the 'Garhwal District'. It is believed that this is the very place where Lord Rama had performed his prayer and meditation of penance after he slayed the Demon King Ravana of Lanka. The 'Lakshman Jhoola' was named after Lakshman; brother of Lord Rama who had crossed the Ganges using a rope bridge made of Jute. In 1889, this Rope Bridge was replaced with an Iron Bridge but after a massive flood in 1924, the bridge got destroyed and damaged. It was then replaced with a stronger one which has strongly held on to this day. There is another bridge named 'Ram Jhoola' formerly known as 'Sivananda Bridge' constructed by the government of Uttarakhand and has no historical or religious significance.
Another unbelievable legend of the Ganga River in Rishikesh has that Shri Lakshman shot an arrow into the Ganges River to quieten it as its gushing sound was disturbing the meditation of penance performed by Lord Rama and to your surprise, even today when you cross this bridge especially at night, you will not even realise that a huge river flows below. A Temple dedicated to Lakshman lies on the western banks of this river, another Temple dedicated to Lord Rama lies on the opposite side of the river and close by there is another Temple dedicated to their brother Bharata and all are mostly visited by ardent devotees and curious tourists all year round.
The sacred Ganga River is seen flowing from the Shivalik ranges into this town as across the Northern Plains where devotees not only take a Holy ritual dip but also offers water sports like White water river rafting through medium and rough rapids, Kayaking, Body Surfing and many more that brings tourists and adventure lovers crowding this place during the peak sports season from all over the world.
Rishikesh is dotted with numerous ancient of modern Temples and Ashrams along the Ganges. Muni Ki Reti which means 'The sands of Sages', Shivananda Nagar founded by Swamy Shivananda, an assortment of Swarg Ashrams along the eastern banks of Ganga River, The Neelakanta Mahadev Temple which lies 12 km from the main town, Vashishtha Guffa or the 'Cave of Sage Vashishtha which lies 21 km uphill of the town and the famous and ancient Kailash Ashram Brahma Vidya Peetham that was built 120 years ago that serves in promoting and preserving Traditional Vedantic Study and research where famous figures like Swamy Sivananda, Swamy Vivekananda and Swamy Rama Teerthi had studied are to name a few. On the way to Gangotri, you can visit the beautiful Tehri dam located about 80 km uphill of the town.
Rishikesh was also made famous worldwide by 'The 'Beatles' who visited this town in February of 1968. They had spent their time in the Maha Rishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram which is closed now. The Late John was inspired to record a song here that was titled 'The Happy Hrishikesh Song' and the group also composed about 48 songs during their stay here which appeared on their White Album. Gyp Mills, Donovan and Mike Love of 'The Beach Boys' fame also visited the site to seek spiritual guidance through Yoga and Meditation and even the famous Hollywood celebrity, Kate Winslet of the 'Titanic' fame had visited this place recently.