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Rishikesh: Holy city of Ganga & gateway to Hindu pilgrimages

Rishikesh: Holy city of Ganga & gateway to Hindu pilgrimages
June 16
13:10 2021

A sacred town at the convergence of rivers Ganga and Chandrabhaga, Rishikesh is a naturally attractive place at the foothills of the lower Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand 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 meaning Lord of the Senses, stands for Lord Vishnu and the city is blessed with the flowing holy Ganga. 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 ‘Mukti’ or salvation.

The main attractions in this exciting tourist and religious spot include Gita Bhavan, Nilkanth Mahadev, Lakshman Jhula, Swarga Ashram and Triveni Ghat, all having great religious importance. Rishikesh and other nearby places like Dehradun and Mussoorie make interesting and amazing excursion getaways.

Rishikesh is renowned for numerous Yoga centers, and is rightly 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 like white water rafting and adventurous activities like wild forest trekking can be enjoyed in Rishikesh.

The tourists who look for spiritual holidays as well as seclusion are welcomed at the lap of Rishikesh with its natural beauty and God’s gifts. It offers visitors with experiences, which nobody can forget for a lifetime. The sacred pilgrimage to four holy shrines starts from Rishikesh.

Tourist Attractions

Laxman Jhula: Lakshman (Laxman) Jhula is a long (450 ft) iron bridge suspended over the mighty Ganga River, constructed in the year 1939. It is situated near Swarga Ashram in Rishikesh. The story behind this bridge is legendary, related to the crossing of the Ganga River on jute ropes by the epic character Lakshmana and it is believed that the bridge is built at the same place. There is a Lakshmana temple located at the west bank of Ganga, revealing the deed of Lakshmana.

Bharat Mandir: Bharat Mandir, an ancient temple founded by Adiguru Shankaracharya during the 12th century, is an imposing shrine located in the heart of the city Rishikesh. The main deity installed here is the idol of Lord Vishnu carved out from a single piece of Saligram. A spectacular sacred Shree Yanthra is placed at the inner canopy of the temple. The details of this ancient temple are recorded in the very old record of Kearkhand. The present temple is the renovated one; reconstructed on the ruins of the original temple destroyed by Taimur. Recent excavations have brought out many old statues, ancient pots and coins from this site.

Nilkantha Mahadev Temple: Neelkanth (Nilkanth) Mahadev Temple, placed at the confluence of Pankaja and Madhumati rivers, is assumed to be one of the most respected temples in Haridwar District of Uttarakhand. This enchanting revered shrine is placed at an altitude of 1330 m with its main deity as Lord Shiva. The panoramic view of surrounding hills of Brahmakoot, Vishnukoot and Manikoot is very attractive.

Parmarth Niketan Ashram: Nestled in the backdrop of lush Himalayas along the Holy Ganga is Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Established by a great saint, Pujya Swami Shukdevanandji Maharaj in 1942, it is the largest ashram in Rishikesh. With clean and scenic surroundings, the ashram is a sacred abode for thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.

Shri Tryambakeshwar Temple: Tryambakeshvar temple in Rishikesh is set in the backdrop of majestic Himalayan ranges. It is a well maintained and neatly kept calm religious abode of Lord Shiva. Tryambakeshvar means the abode of the three eyed one i.e. Lord Shiva. It is considered as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (self emanated lingas). It is very well placed on the banks of Ganga and the natural beauty around the temple is amazing. Many poojas are offered here by the devotees. Shivarathri is celebrated here with much enthusiasm and vigor.

Sivananda Ashram: Established in 1932 by the great Indian sage Swami Sivananda, Sivananda Ashram is located on the banks of the Ganga at the foothills of the Himalayan ranges. Swami Sivananda established this ashram with the sacred idea of promoting spiritualism and providing spiritual practices to devotees.

Triveni Ghat: Triveni Ghat, a confluence of three holy important Rivers the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswathy, is a most revered sacred bathing spot in Rishikesh and is situated on the banks of Ganga River. It is of belief that those who take a dip in Triveni Ghat will have salvation, a relief from all sins carried out; the water here has the power to purify them. Devotees make many offerings at Triveni Ghat. Early morning at sunrise they offer milk to the river and happily feed the fish. An impressive view of lamps floated in the river, as part of aarti ceremony is pleasing to eyes after the sunset.

Trekking

Situated at the foothills of Himalayas, Rishikesh is an ideal location for rafting, canoeing and trekking activities. Travelers from various parts of the country as well as the world come to Rishikesh every year, to enjoy the enormous Himalayan treks.

Surrounded by mountain ranges from all sides, Rishikesh provides trekkers some exciting outlooks of dense forests, serene rivers and wild mountain ranges. One can also witness the amazing scenarios, ancient temples, and Buddhist monasteries on the way. One of the main attractions of the destination is a trek in the Garhwal Himalayas.

White Water Rafting

The main sporting activity in Rishikesh is White Water Rafting. It has grown into a popular and adventurous spot for white water rafting enthusiasts as the place offers a spectacular experience of medium to very tough and rough rapids in the regions of River Ganga. Many adventurous tourists both from India and abroad visit this place to experience the real challenges of white water rafting.

Shopping

Shopping in Rishikesh is a happy and rejoicing activity. One can get many items, which are useful for day-to-day life from the small shops near the temple town. Evenings are very busy with local people coming out for shopping. Many religious and temple related articles like Rudraksha, Ganesha idols; Nataraja statues, religious books and mythological sculptures are available here at moderate rates.

How to reach

By Train: Rishikesh railway station is linked to all cities in India. There are regular train facilities from Rishikesh to cities like Jammu, Delhi, Haridwar and many other cities located close by.

By Air: Nearest airport is Jollygrant, 18 km away in Dehradun. Jollygrant airport is connected to Delhi airport. Taxi services are available from airport to Rishikesh.

By Bus: Rishikesh is well connected to many cities in the region by buses. Private and public buses offer services from Rishikesh to Pauri (117 km), Haridwar, Dehradun and Kotdwar.

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