Guide to Rishikesh and its undiscovered secrets

History of Rishikesh

Settled in the lower regions of the Himalayas on the banks of the holy river Ganga, Rishikesh is a clamoring pilgrimage goal, pulling in a great many travelers to its heart consistently. Located at an altitude of 356 m from the sea level, it is frequently alluded as ‘God’s own abode’, Rishikesh is one of the most ancient pilgrim points in India.

The historical backdrop of this town is rich with various legends and mythological stories. The name of the town itself is after one of the names of the Hindu God- Lord Vishnu.

Pilgrim at Rishikesh
Pilgrim at Rishikesh

The name of the town Rishikesh was derived from the word ‘Rishi’ signifying ‘The Seer’, which was a name given to priests dueling in the caves; sacred men to who were the first to uncover the scriptures of the Vedas.

The destination is also alluded to as Kubjamrak in the Skanda Purana which is the biggest Mahapurana- a noteworthy Hindu religious script. Another legend of the Hindu mythology suggests that a wild flame erupted over here when Lord Shiva on being irate with Lord Agni, cursed him for the appeasement of his wrongdoings. Hence, Rishikesh is also known as the ‘Agni Tirtha’ – meaning a blessed place for retribution of Lord Agni.

As indicated by the legends, the poison that was retrieved from Samudra Manthan, along with nectar was consumed by Lord Shiva in here, and now the place is known as Nilkanth Mahadev Temple.

Amid the 8th century, one of the most loved and famous sages from India, Adi Shankaracharya, built several ashrams and temples in the area. But due to a few seismic tremors and earthquakes, these temples and ashrams were demolished. In any case, a few ashrams and temples still stand tall and are reminiscent of the rich historical legacy of the spot, which have influenced the locale throughout the hundreds of years.

Other than the mythological backdrop, the historical background of the place is that Kunind was the first to rule the region. Later, the Shak rulers and Naga kings were led here. Soon in the year of 1398, Vatsaraj became the king, followed by Ajaypal, amid the years of 1493 to 1500.

The Gorkha kings started ruling the entire territory from the year of 1804 to 1815, till the East India Company came to India, and took over the command. After India attained independence, the place was converged to Uttar Pradesh. But in November 2000, after Uttaranchal became autonomous from Uttar Pradesh, the place was renamed as Uttarakhand.

Fun Fact:

The famous music band ‘The Beatles’ also visited Rishikesh in the year 1968 and stayed for several weeks at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It is said that their famous album ‘The White’ was inspired by Rishikesh and most of the songs were composed here

Today, Rishikesh is known as the ‘world capital of Yoga’. It is home to many universally prestigious ashrams, including the Sivananda Ashram of Divine Light Society, and a huge number of meditation, yoga, illumination and other spiritual and enlightenment courses. It is most notably known for being a spiritual center, and an International Yoga festival is organized every year during the month of February which lasts for almost one week.

Rishikesh is a very beautiful place to visit, as it lies surrounded by majestic hills from all sides, while the river Ganges, flows from within the internals of the place. Various Rafting camps are organized in the banks of the river, where you can experience that adrenaline rush you have been waiting for so long.

Trayambkeshwar Temple

Now that you are well-aware of all the history revolving around Rishikesh. We will be sharing with you all the fun facts about the best places that you can visit here. Let’s start our virtual tour with the Trayambkeshwar Temple.

The Trayambkeshwar Temple, also popularly known as the Tera Manzil Temple is a thirteen story temple, and is a huge religious milestone of Rishikesh. In contrast to other temples in the vicinity which is holy and devoted to a solitary divinity, the Trayambkeshwar Temple worships and reveres symbol of all Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The temple was established by Adi Guru Shankaracharya in the 12th century.

There are numerous areas in the temple which include the Vedic and religious works of the Hindu culture. The temple is not only visited to look for endowments and seek the blessings of the almighty but also to marvel at the intricate working of the insides of the temple.

Fundamentally, the holy place is considered to be the holy abode of Lord Shiva, as the name Trayambkeshwar implies the meaning to be ‘The Abode of the Three-Eyed’.

Fun Fact:

The 13 story temple is accepted to be one amongst the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva

Celebration at Trayambkeshwar

During the time of celebration of Mahashivratri and in the Sawan month, which is considered to be holy as devotees of Lord Shiva fast during the Monday’s of the month, do various pujas and offer flowers to the deity. The temple of Trayambkeshwar is decorated with beautiful yellow flowers which makes the temple all and more divine.

From here, you can also see the heavenly blue water of the Ganges that looks extremely calm and its very sight will bring peace to your soul.

Laxman Jhula

One of the most noteworthy attraction points of Rishikesh is the Laxman Jhula. It is known for being a suspension bridge over the river Ganges, which has been constructed without the use of any support pillars. The bridge acts as a union point for the two villages Tapovan and Jonk. Tapovan being situated on the west bank of the Ganga in the Tehri Garhwal District, whereas Jonk is on the east side, belonging to the Pauri Garhwal District.

Fun Fact:

Located at 5 kilometers towards the upper east of Rishikesh, the whole extension is comprised of iron, is 450 feet long and is arranged at the stature of 70 feet from the Ganga river.

The Laxman Jhula is incredibly outstanding amongst travelers as a result of the rich legendary affiliations and history that are associated with the jhula.

Mythology says that Lord Laxman, who was the younger sibling of Lord Rama of Ayodhya, had crossed the river at this equivalent point, where the jhula currently gloriously represents to view. It is said that Lord Laxman crossed the river on a bridge that he made with jute ropes.

In the present day situation, the Laxman Jhula is visited by a huge number of travelers every year not on account of its antiquated ancient history and religious sacredness, yet additionally because of the ongoing advancements that have occurred around the Jhula. Amazing temples and celebrated markets have jumped up in the region, and the whole zone is now an eminent fascination in the whole of Rishikesh.

Culture of Rishikesh

Rishikesh has a culture fundamentally the same as different towns in India. The greater part of the general population confides in having arranged marriage. Significant celebrations in Rishikesh are Diwali and Holi. Amid the months of May and June, this place is brimming with the local people belonging to all age groups. Tourists come in the months from October to March.

Rishikesh has a very friendly culture, in light of the fact that the primary income source to the majority of the general population is the travel industry. Every year, the place witnesses a large number of visitors piling the area. Also, a large number of individuals from outside India remain in Rishikesh for an extended stretch of time to learn yoga and contemplation. Individuals of Rishikesh are all around inviting and friendly.

Rishikesh has something to offer to each sort of individual. Whether you are keen on otherworldliness, yoga, reflection, music, adventure, or spirituality, the place has everything in store for you.

Dharmraj Temple

The Dharmraj Temple is dedicated to worshipping the Hindu God of Death Yamraj and is regarded as one of the only four existing temples all over India that is solely dedicated to worshipping Yamraj.

If you search online for temples worshipping the God of death, you will find only one result, which will be the holy temple of Bharmour, situated in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. But that’s not the case. In reality, there exists four other temples and the Dharmraj Temple in Rishikesh is one of them.

Anyone visiting the temple should know that the Hindu God of death, Yamraj was also known as Dharmraj due to the fact, that he was given the task of punishing the human soul after death according to the sins done by them in their mortal life.

Fun Fact:

This temple holds the belief that when a human being dies, the messengers of Yamraj will first get hold of the individual’s soul, and present it in front of Chitragupta.

Chitragupta was a devoted worker of Yamraj who kept and maintained all the information about the life and death of a person. Chitragupta will give the full details of the deeds of the person in his mortal life and later the punishment will be decided by Yamraj based on his/her sins. After the decision of Yamraj, the Yamdoots- the messengers will take the soul to heaven or hell from the four gates, according to their deeds.

The temple may appear very small and have only one idol for worshipping, but it holds a great mythological belief for the people of Rishikesh.

Soul Kitchen (best place to eat in Rishikesh)

Like all the other restaurants in Rishikesh, Soul Kitchen is also a vegetarian café, which provides you with multiple vegan options as well as Gluten free options. They have various options in breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch.

The food served is delicious, but the thing that makes this place more remarkable is that you can sit in the café and have your lunch while enjoying the mesmerizing view of the Ganges river. It is a beautiful point for tourists and travelers to take pictures of the river at its epitome of beauty.

Gau Shala Bhagirath Ashram

The Gau Shala Bhagirath Ashram remains almost crowded throughout the year. People from various states and countries visit this place, as it lies very close to the Laxman Jhula, Ram Jhula and the Trayambakeshwar Temple. Another major reason for the tourist to gather at this Ashram is on the hopes of meeting with some holy saint who might visit as a pilgrim for the Char Dham Yatra, or for fairs like the Ardh Kumbha, Kumbha Mela, and some other major occasions.

One of the most notable features of this Ashram is- as the name suggests, the presence of several cows in the Ashram’s Gau Shala. The cowshed has been existing in the Ashram for a long time, and the Baba who established it has now retired for the heavenly abode.

If you seek spirituality and some peace and tranquillity, this Ashram is the perfect place for you. It is beautiful from both inside and outside and has a very clean and calm environment. The Ashram also has a meditation hall, where you can meditate or do yoga, without any external disturbances.

Ganga Beach

The Ganga beach is right next to the Laxman Jhula road and offers a bountiful view of the river Ganga at its best. Various pilgrims and tourists come to this place to bathe in the holy water and to enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding.

Ram Jhula

Ram Jhula brags of awesome surroundings that are described by thick vegetation, snow-secured mountains, and the Ganga River. The Ram Jhula, situated in Muni Ki Reti, is one of the primary attractions of the world’s yoga capital – Rishikesh. It is a suspension bridge, which was worked over the River Ganges in the year of 1986.

Otherwise called Shivananda Jhula, this Jhula estimates to about 450 ft long and associates Swarg Ashram with Shivananda Ashram territory. In closeness to the Jhula are numerous prominent ashrams like Gita Bhawan, Yog Niketan, and Parmarth Niketan where one can ponder and accomplish out-worldly enlightenment. Ram Jhula is very comparative in structure to the Laxman Jhula.

As you stroll on the jhula, the holy river Ganga spouts underneath with full power and you are encompassed by the wonderful view of the Himalayas. Give the cool wind a chance to brush past your face. The bridge is around 6 km northwards of the sacred place. The jhula is additionally somewhat greater in length than the Laxman Jhula.

Shatrughan Ghat

The Shatrughan Ghat is famous for the Ganga Aarti of Parmarth Niketan, which is held every evening on the ghats. You can also watch the rafters returning back to Rishikesh after having an amazing rafting experience in the tides of river Ganga. The ghat is also noticeable due to the fact that in the morning, you will find various people practicing yoga, and meditating in the banks of the ghat.

The Shatrughan Temple is also located very close to the ghat, at a distance of 4 km from the city center. The temple is placed very close to the banks of the river Ganga. It is also known as the ‘Aadi Badrinarayan’ Temple, and it is one of the only two temples in India that is dedicated to Lord Shatrughan, who was the brother of Lord Ram. The other temple is located in Thrissur, which is in Kerala.

Top 5 things to do in Rishikesh

  • Shopping in the markets near Laxman Jhula.
  • Experiencing adventure like Bungee jumping and water rafting at the Outbound Adventure.
  • Take a holy dip in Triveni Ghat.
  • Enjoying the delicious food at Café Hopping.
  • Attend Ganga Aarti in the evening at the Triveni Ghats.

Top 5 experiences to have in Rishikesh

  • Visiting the Beatles’ Ashram.
  • Waterfall Trekking at Dream Land Adventure.
  • Wildlife Sighting at Rajaji National Park.
  • Attending a classical musical concert at Mrityunjay Music Festival.
  • Buying sarees and shawls of Garhwal wool from the main market.

Top 5 places to visit in Rishikesh

  • Adventure camp- Outbound Adventure, Dream Life Adventure.
  • Temple- Trayambakeshwar Temple, Lakshman Temple.
  • Rajaji National Park.
  • Market of Laxman Jhula.
  • Ram Jhula.

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