The Ultimate Rishikesh Travel Guide 2020 – 10 Reasons to Visit the Birthplace of Yoga!

rishikesh travel guide india

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There’s no doubt about it, I fell in love with Rishikesh as soon as I arrived.

The beautiful hills which fall into each other, the clean, green flowing mother Ganga and the peaceful vibes which seem to be all over the place are infectious. I was hooked.

Rishikesh is the birthplace of yoga and came into international fame after the Beatles stopped here to stay at an Ashram in the 60s.

Today, people from all over the world visit to learn how to become yogi instructors, attend the annual yoga festival and learn how to better their meditation from the gurus.

Although in the peak seasons of winter it can get pretty crowded, I’ve never felt anything but great as I’ve been wandering around.

People are friendly, it’s incredibly cheap and it’s generally an awesome place to be!

There are plenty of things to do here that don’t involve yoga if that isn’t your thing too.

Here is my ultimate Rishikesh travel guide with 10 reasons to visit the birthplace of yoga!

rishikesh travel guide

My Rishikesh travel guide & 10 reasons to visit Rishikesh

1. It’s the birthplace of yoga

Notably the main thing that draws people here, aside from the fact it’s on the foothills of the Himalayas, is that it provides lessons in Yoga and meditation.

You can learn from some of the best yogi instructors in the world and what better place than where yoga was born?!

It’s a pilgrimage of the spirit and mind and some say it will change your life.

You can get involved in many yoga retreats and intense courses if this is what you would like to do.

Most travellers stay at an Ashram while they’re here. There are so many to choose from, it’s best to just go with your gut feel and/or budget.

I stayed at Yog Niketan by Sanskriti which is a hotel ‘ashram’ not far from Ram Jhula.

Every morning, you could wake up to fantastic views of the mountains and the Ganges river.

My friend and I, who are totally NOT yoga bunnies, decided we would try a yoga session here. It was complimentary each morning so we thought why not.

It was a pretty painful experience and I definitely learned that I need to do a lot of work on my flexibility!

The yoga instructors here are pretty intense and they will definitely correct you if you’re going wrong.

Which is part of why they’re so good! So many times I was in the A frame or “mountain” and the instructor kept saying “keep your back straight, straight, STRAIGHT” lol.

I definitely didn’t find my calling. We essentially did a lot of sun salutations for around an hour and by the end of it I had a good work out.

It felt really good to get up at sunrise and do something positive to start the day. I would highly recommend it.

yog niketan by sanskriti | Rishikesh travel guide
The view from Yog Niketan each morning!

2. You can take a dip in the Ganges river

The river Ganges snakes through the middle of Rishikesh and it adds such a colourful addition to the foothills around it.

Although the Ganges in Varanasi is extremely dirty and polluted, the source of the river is only 40 kilometres away from here and makes it is extremely clean.

You will see Sadhu’s and Hindu pilgrims bathing in the Ganges here each morning and through the day. You may also see little empty bottles and jugs for sale as you walk around with ‘Ganga Jal’ on the side.

This is for those who have visited to take some of the Ganges home with them!

If you would also like to do this, the bottles will cost you around 10 rupees. It’s just making sure it doesn’t leak in your luggage!

You should definitely take a dip in Mother Ganga while you’re here.

As a woman, I didn’t feel comfortable stripping off like the boys do. So I just dipped my tootsies in. It was Indian winter time and so the water was freezing!

river ganges rishikesh travel guide

3. You can visit the abandoned Beatles Ashram

Possibly the coolest attraction in Rishikesh is the fact you can visit the abandoned Beatles Ashram.

This ashram became famous after the band visited here in the 60s.

Along with their strict meditation instructions from there guru, this ashram inspired the Beatles to write many songs on the White Album.

Although it does have a hefty price tag at 500 rupees for a foreigner, it’s worth having a peak inside and is a must for any Beatles fan.

To read more about it see my article: Exploring the abandoned ashram in Rishikesh.

beatles ashram rishikesh
beatles ashram rishikesh
beatles ashram in rishikesh

4. You can witness the famous Aarti at Triveni Ghat

My favourite part of visiting Rishikesh was witnessing the amazing Aarti at Triveni Ghat.

Hindu’s make a pilgrimage here as it’s a sacred site and a meeting of the three holy rivers; the Ganges, the Yamuna and the Saraswathy.

It is said that if you bathe in the waters of this holy Ghat, your sins will leave you.

The Aarti here is something you simply cannot miss on your visit.

It is an amazing feeling watching the flames, hearing the Bhajans and feeling the energy.

It starts around 6.30 pm each evening so get there early to guarantee a seat in peak season.

triveni ghat aarti | rishikesh travel guide
triveni ghat aarti rishikesh travel guide

5. Feel some shanti vibes at The Little Buddha Café

This is my all-time favourite Shanti, Shanti café in Rishikesh and possibly India so far!

You can just relax here, away from the streets and feel-good vibes.

The café provides panoramic views of the hills, Lakshman Jhula and the Ganges river from their open view point.

They serve up the most amazing lemon, ginger, honey tea (which I’m obsessed with) and a great menu of Indian and International cuisine.

I love the ‘Falafel all’ platter on their menu. I could literally sit here all day, listen to their awesome music and just watch the world go by. You have to visit it.

the little buddha cafe rishikesh | Rishikesh Travel guide
little buddha cafe rishikesh travel guide
The amazing view from Little Buddha!

6. Walk over the suspension bridges, Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula

The two suspension bridges which allow for an easy crossing over the Ganges should be a bit of an eyesore.

But, they actually complement and even improve the setting as you walk around the town.

Although the bridges are relatively narrow, you’ll find the traffic is busy at all times of day!

Bikes, cows, selfie-takers, luggage carriers and monkeys are among those that use the bridge so be prepared to make way. They also move quite a lot with the wind, so it may be pretty shaky if the winds are high.

Lakshman Jhula is the bigger and more picturesque of the two and is where many of the hotels and restaurants are including the German Bakery. To get to Ram Jhula it’s an easy 2/3km walk.

Read more – The most Instagrammable places in Delhi!

lakshman jhula rishikesh travel guide
lakshman jhula rishikesh
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7. It has an amazing white sand beach on the banks of the Ganges

A really beautiful, peaceful place to visit and to dip in the Ganges is the white sand beach.

Located around 500m from Ram Jhula, it’s a great place to sit and relax, meditate or meet some locals.

I’ve visited Rishikesh twice now. Once in Indian winter, when the water levels were low and the sand was white.

Most recently, I visited in monsoon season where the water levels were high and the beach was almost black due to the muddy waters from the mountains! During this time, you need to be careful of the flowing river.

You shouldn’t swim when the tide is high as you could be pulled away with the current.

As the water levels were getting to a dangerous level, a security officer ushered everyone off the beach, including the cows. So, tread carefully unless you want a ride down the river of course!

beach in rishikesh travel guide
rishikesh travel guide
rishikesh monsoon

8. Go white water rafting, zip-lining or on an adventure

Although since the 60s this has been a location of peace and tranquillity, nowadays a lot of people visit to get involved in the many adrenalin activities which are on offer.

All over the town, you’ll see shops advertising boating/rafting, ziplining, speedboating, treks into the mountain and more.

There is so much to choose from, making it the home of adventure!

Personally, I didn’t go white water rafting when I was here last time but it’s definitely on my list.

The second time I visited, the water levels were too high during monsoon. So, I’m determined to come back and do it another time. Always ensure you book a safe, reputable company for the rafting.

rafting rishikesh travel guide

9. Visit the amazing temples

As Rishikesh literally sits on the banks of the Ganges, there are dozens of temples and ghats here.

In the evening time, you will see many temples performing the nightly aarti.

You’ll see flaming candles and the sound of chanting fill the air. The most striking Hindu temple to visit here is next to the Lakshman Jhula.

The Tera Manzil temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is fascinating to walk around.

As you make your way to the top, there are hundreds of shrines dedicated to different Hindu dieties.

When you reach the top, a priest will bless you with a Tilak (vermillion blessing or red dot) of Lord Shiva’s trident.

You can also take home some blessed Ganga Jal in one of the brass pots they have there.

Not only is this temple great for some spiritual awareness and learning about Hindu culture, it provides awesome views of the Ganges and Rishikesh.

shiva temple rishikesh travel guide
rishikesh temple
ganges river rishikesh

10. Feel refreshed in body and mind

A lot of travellers, Indians and people from all over the world escape to Rishikesh to help their inner peace.

Meditation and Yoga are tried and tested natural ways to help stress and calm the mind. So, where better to come than here?!

I definitely feel that if I felt lost in my life or needed some direction, this is going to be the first place I call on.

Although I didn’t personally visit for a spiritual calling, there’s no doubt that the energies here made me feel at peace.

If you haven’t thought about visiting Rishikesh, I would change that now! Put it on your list and allow yourself a few days of peaceful vibes.

rishikesh travel guide
rishikesh travel guide
rishikesh

Heading to the North of India? Read more of my posts!

Manali to Leh by road, all you need to know

What it’s like to travel to Leh, the land of high passes

Off the beaten track Ladakh, Thiksay, She and more

A guide to Manali, the hippie town in Himachal

Why you need to visit Shimla

Top things to do in Mcleodganj

A complete Bhagsunag waterfall guide

Mussoorie Hill Station guide

Things to do in Amritsar

Wagah Border Ceremony Guide

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14 thoughts on “The Ultimate Rishikesh Travel Guide 2020 – 10 Reasons to Visit the Birthplace of Yoga!

  1. Sarvottam Kumar says:

    Oh,What a wonderful way to explain the spiritual Rishikesh, I love it the way you have highlighted.It is really mesmerizing to read such words.Appreciate your work.
    I have written something similar – check it here if you want – https://blog.sivanaspirit.com/top-10-reason-learn-yoga-rishikesh-india/

  2. Diane Petty says:

    Thanks for the great and informative article! I’m not really that into yoga, but am interested in hiking and doing a few days of detox / fasting / cleansing and Rishikesh keeps popping up on my searches! I’ve been to India a couple of times and have the visa, plus want to head into Nepal to give that a quick visit as well! Thanks again for the info!

    • Sophie Pearce says:

      Hi Diane, thanks for the feedback! I’m the same, yoga really isn’t my thing but there is SO much more to Rishikesh than yoga. Nepal is amazing and you can go overland from Varanasi or fly. Have an amazing time, Rishikesh was one of my favourite places to visit. Sophie x

    • Don says:

      I will be traveling to Rishikesh in less than a month. Your article provides some nice insights about what to do and see there. I knew about some of them before, but your points reinforced what I really should do, such as visit Ganga Aarti (oh, there’s not just one!) and Tera Manzil (now I know what to expect inside that iconic temple). I will also definitely be visiting little Buddha cafe ?. Thanks for putting this together!

      • Sophie Pearce says:

        Hi Don, I’m really happy to hear that you’re going to be visiting Rishikesh! It’s one of the most amazing places in India and yes there’s so much to do. Have a lemon ginger honey tea for me in the Little Buddha café. Thanks. Sophie x

  3. Len says:

    Wonderful pictures!! Very interesting post. Rishikesh is religious & spiritual city. Ganga Aarti of Rishikesh is famous across the world. It is the good place to visit and seeing the ghats and temples.

    • Sophie Pearce says:

      Hi Len, Thanks so much! Rishikesh is one of the best places to visit in India! I’m glad you had a good time there. Sophie x

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