Rishikesh is a famous pilgrimage destination to devoted yogis and sages since time immemorial. It brands itself as the yoga capital of the world - or what some disenchanged yogis might say, Yoga Disneyland, given the commercial proliferation of yoga studios, retreats and courses. The city also hosts an annual International Yoga Festival. With its deeply spiritual tradition, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are prohibited. Rafting and ayurveda are also gaining popularity as more tourists visit the place with those in their itinerary.
May to June (my time of visit, before the monsoon rains) is HOT and DRY. Temperatures can reach beyond 40 and your skin/lips dry up. With this heat, a dip in the ice-cold water of the Ganga River is a refreshing respite. This is also the Indian tourist season with few Westerners. You'll have to elbow your way through the throng of Indian devotees who flock Rishikesh in droves. The 2 narrow foot bridges, Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula are often clogged as you compete in space with cows, motorcycles, selfiers and professional photographers who stay on the bridge for customers. This is also low season so not too many events are happening. The good yoga teachers take their vacation and the rock-star gurus are not around for their satsangs. However, being low season, lodging can be had for INR 300/night on a bunk bed in a dorm room.
When any of the hugely popular gurus or Babas visit to give a satsang, eg. Prem Baba, Mooji Baba, all rooms are fully booked from Rishikesh to Hardiwar! This usually happens during the cooler season.
Rishikesh Blogs by TheLoneRider
Peoplescape of Rishikesh(May 18 - June 13, 2018) With the continuing abundance of Rishikesh and the kaleidoscope of people checking-in and out of my hostel painting an animated peoplescape, my extended stay in Rishikesh is shaping itself into a mini-life.....more »»
Rafting the Ganga River with Greg Goldstein(June 1, 2018) What's better than rafting the Ganga River? Doing it twice! This time with Greg Goldstein care-of White World Expeditions....more »»
White Water Rafting on Ganga River, Rishikesh(May 25, 2018) Red Chili Adventure, the rafting outfitter, took us 26kms upstream to experience 11 rapids on a 9pax raft along the fabled Ganga River in Rishikesh. It was a white water adventure fun that added dimension the yoga/spiritual pursuits of the city.....more »»
Satsang (spiritual discourse) by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati(May 21, 2018) After the Ganga aarti, a separate event happens in the ashram. A satsang (spiritual discourse) and question/answer forum is presided over by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji. She has many titles to her name, but she is best referred to as the American Jewish lady who is extremely knowledgable and dispenses words of wisdom.....more »»
Ganga Aarti (devotional fire ritual) at Parmarth Niketan Ashram(May 21, 2018) The daily Ganga Aarti at the Parmarth Niketan is the biggest and most celebrated in Rishikesh where devotees of any religion, creed or color transcend the barriers and gather to give thanks to the Ganga River for all its blessings.....more »»
Bouncing Back into Yoga in Rishikesh(May 21, 2018) After my dust-induced ailment in Kathmandu, I have not been able to resume my yoga. But with a spacious yoga space in Haari Hostel and my resurgent strength, yoga was once again in the works. First session was with Cecilia and Ai, both fellow guests at the hostel....more »»
Exploring Rishikesh, India(May 18, 2018) After 5 days in Paharganj, New Delhi, it was sensory overload. I had to leave. Rishikesh excited me a little more than the other destinations. With that, I booked my bus and hostel stay at RAAHI The Travellers Nest. I don't know anything about Rishikesh except for its yoga scene and I was curious what it would be like for me.....more »»
Rishikesh (city), India
- RAAHI The Travellers Nest - backpacker-friendly, dorm rooms, central location, tours & rafting, motorbike rental, great place to meet people
Paidal Marg, Laxman Jhula, 249192 Rishikesh
Travel Tips for Rishikesh
- climate-wise, best time to visit Rishikesh is from October to February when temperature is cool. This is also the high season for foreign travelers.
- May to June (my time of visit, before the monsoon rains) is HOT and DRY. Temperatures can reach beyond 40° and your skin/lips dry up. Great to go rafting or a dip in the Ganga River for respite. There are mostly Indian devotees and Indian tourists flocking to Rishikesh. Westerns tourists are few, but Rishikesh gets crowded specially while crossing the 2 bridges, Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula. Lodging prices can be negotiated down to INR 300/night for a bunk bed in a dorm room as this is low season.
- During the cooler season when any of the hugely popular gurus or babas visit to give a satsang, eg. Prem Baba, Mooji Baba, all rooms are fully booked from Rishikesh to Hardiwar!
- short power outages frequently happen during the day
How to get to Rishikesh from New Delhi by bus
- Bus - take the Metro Yellow Line and get off at Kashmiri Gate. Exit the station from Gate 7 and enter the ISBT building - this is the bus terminal. Go down one flight and go to Platform 14. This is where you buy the bus ticket and board the bus. A/C bus, INR 454, 6 hours. You can take the 10:30pm bus and arrive 5am in Rishikesh.
scam alert! - over the ticket counter, the guy may verbally charge you INR 765 - this is usually the online price of the bus ticket. But I looked closely at the printed ticket, and found the price at INR 454. I demanded more change! The guy knew he's been discovered and gave me back the rest of the change.
You will arrive in Rishikesh at Adarsh Gram. To get to your hotel, travelers usually share a tuk-tuk (called Vikrams) for INR 10-20/passenger if shared. Since I arrived 5am, there was no one to share so I ended up paying a negotiated INR 150.
Travel Tips for India
- e-VISA - visa on arrival is no longer done. Tourists should apply online for an e-VISA. Tourist e-VISA for 60 days = US$51.25 (including surcharges, non-refundable). NOTE: e-VISA is only honored in 25 designated airports and 5 designated seaports (Cochin, Goa, Mangalore,Mumbai,Chennai). You CANNOT do a land crossing using an e-VISA.
- US$1 = Indian Rupee (INR) 67.18
- nearly every food served is spicy...there is no escaping it
- other travel destinations in India
- always good to have an Indian SIM. It's handy to get wifi in some cafes
General Travel Tips
- arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
- put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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