Article by Villy Cheilakou
Have you ever imagined visiting a place that combines spirituality with high adrenaline levels? Are you looking to have days full of action but nights full of peace? Well, welcome to Rishikesh 😊 The Yoga Capital of the World and the Adventure Capital of India. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas and split in two by the holy river of Ganges, this city has something for everyone.
Best time to visit would be during October-November and February-March when the river has the most sublime and vivid colour ever. For the rafting lovers, the season starts in September and ends in June. The winter months of December and January can also be pleasant during the day but get quite chilly in the night time.
Please note that the International Yoga Festival is held here in the first week of March, and thousands of travellers flock here from every corner of this planet. Overcrowded is the most lenient word to describe the place during this time of the year. So, plan accordingly(Contact us for planning your next trip).
In this article we are going to focus on a few selected activities for a 4-day itinerary, although keep in mind that the list could go on… Laxman Jhula area, a famous landmark of Rishikesh, located 5 km from the city centre, will be our starting point.
So, let’s start the trip in this magical city!
Day 1: Laxman Jhula and river rafting
First day of this short holiday, and I guess you are high in energy. So, what’s better than starting your day with rafting in the Ganges river. Friendly suggestion: Since you arrived just the night before, make sure you have booked in advance so you avoid spending a full morning arranging for it (there are countless agencies to book online). Except for rafting, you might also want to try yourself on cliff jumping in the river or even kayaking. Ganga ji offers so many alternatives 😊
Rafting is actually a great way of seeing a pretty big part of the surroundings of Rishikesh which will no doubt leave you speechless. So, you get to kill two birds with one stone; the joy of rafting and the sightseeing.
After a long and tiring morning, return to Laxman Jhula and rest your body at Freedom café, if you are up for yummy western food (and local as well). Relax and lay back on the comfy cushions to enjoy the beautiful Ganga view. On your way out, don’t forget to treat yourself Nutella momos from the momo stand for a literally gastronomic explosion. If, however, you prefer just local cuisine, try the ‘Purple dhaba’ and you won’t regret it. (You will find only vegetarian food in town, as Rishikesh is considered a holy city).
Get back to bed early, as another long day is ahead. Well, you can’t really do otherwise since Rishikesh is already asleep by midnight…
For your accommodation in Laxman Jhula we propose: Shree Sant Sewa Ashram (gates close at 10pm) with decent rooms, Mango Guesthouse with more choices, and Rudra Guesthouse for average budget and great view on the river.
Day 2: Ram Jhula and Beyond
Hopefully you have recharged enough from your night’s sleep because now you will get ready for a somewhat spiritual day around Ram Jhula, 2 km downstream from Laxman Jhula.
If you decide to walk this distance, choose the riverside path, where no jeeps or scooters can disturb the beautiful silence. You may take a short break at the Ganga beach, where the white of the sand and the green of the river meet in harmony to create a visual piece of art.
Once you get to Ram Jhula, wander around the busy narrow streets and be prepared to see numerous sadhus in their saffron kurtas in every corner of this area. If you feel rather fit this morning, start walking towards the Beatles Ashram (see here and ask locals for directions). Back in the 60’s, the nowadays lush and overgrown remnants of the glorious past actually brought fame to Rishikesh and the whole India. So, check it out.
By the time you are back, you must be dead thirsty and hungry. So, head to the Juice shop to try one of the multi-flavor healthy juices prepared for you with the sole purpose of taking you off. Then, you may eat at the authentic Chotiwala restaurant, easily recognizable by the welcome guy with the painted face who attracts customers and will very happily take a photo with you.
Before you leave the area, pay a visit to Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Have a look inside and get amazed by the unique beauty this place can offer. And as the sun is taking its final bow of the day, walk down by the riverbank to witness the Ganga aarti. Oh, I know, this is a super cliché thing to do in Rishikesh, but come on, who would say no to a soothing, mesmerizing, hypnotic sunset by the Ganga?
The ashram also offers rooms at affordable prices in case you decide to stay in Ram Jhula.
Day 3: Kunjapuri Temple and more adventure
Kunjapuri temple is about 30 km far from Rishikesh and is situated at an altitude of 1600 meters. From here you get a panoramic view of the Himalayan mountains (on a clear day; but don’t worry, there are many 😊). What I would suggest though, is to visit the temple early morning to catch the sunrise. Well, I know this is kind of brutal, but trust me; the stunning view will pay you off.
The way to reach the temple is totally up to you: by car or shared jeep, by scooter or even by foot! Although it might make more sense to only walk the way down, as the way up in the middle of the night sounds like a rather daunting task… Spiritually oriented or not, this is a must place to see, if you wish to breathe some fresh air with a Himalayan touch.
Return to Laxman Jhula and go straight to Babylon café because I imagine you might feel a bit sleepy after such an early wake-up. Here you will get the best espresso in town accompanied by a delicious croissant or cake of your choice.
And if you still feel something is missing, look for more adventure on bungee jumping. Didn’t I tell you? Everything is possible in Rishikesh. Jumpin Heights claim to have India’s highest platform, 83m, which can be nothing but a mind-blowing experience. More excitement? Try the less known Flying Fox (probably the longest in Asia).
Come back to town and gift yourself a relaxing Ayurveda massage at one of the many Ayurveda centers you will find here. After all, you deserve it 😊
Day 4: Tapovan and waterfall
This is your last day in Rishikesh, and there are a few things left to do. A stroll in Tapovan, just across the Laxman Jhula bridge, and a bit more nature hiking could end your trip very smoothly.
So, start your day with a short trek to Garud Chatti waterfall (look on the map) It’s an easy walk (about an hour) through a lush green landscape with the river on your left. If you are brave enough, you can also take a quick bath under the very (I repeat, very) refreshing water.
On your way back, have some energetic sugar cane juice from the stand right at the roundabout with the Shiva statue. Then cross the bridge and walk all the way up to Tapovan. You will think the top is nowhere to be seen, but take it easy and enjoy the ascension, as you will find many small shops left and right to buy your souvenirs.
Here, in Tapovan, you also have many options for lunch at local dhabas with great food. Moreover, a nice recommendation for a place to stay is the Hill Top Swiss Cottage, located in a quiet area with excellent view and quite comfortable rooms.
And since this last day has been less exhausting, don’t rush to retire to your room. Ask around to see if there are any happenings this night. Many cafés/ restaurants host regularly several events including traditional/western music concerts or even fire dance shows!
P.S. If you are a real adventure/nature lover, a great option to spend one night, would be camping in the woods. You get to live in spacious tents will all basic amenities provided, but most importantly, you wake up to the beautiful sounds of the forest.
Thank you for ‘joining’ us on this trip 😊