Rishikesh graciously unfolds along the banks of the holy Ganges River in the Himalayan foothills of northern India. As one of the country’s most sacred cities, Rishikesh emanates an aura of spirituality infused with nature’s beauty. Adventure seekers flock here for thrilling exploits. Yogis immerse themselves in meditation. Temples resound with divine chants. This magical town caters to all who desire rejuvenation of body and soul. When planning a trip here, these ten alluring sites tops the list of must-see places.
The Beatles Ashram
One of Rishikesh’s most famous attractions is the former ashram of the Beatles. Tucked away on the eastern bank of the Ganges, this tranquil ashram served as the setting for where the Beatles composed numerous songs in 1968 during their stay to learn meditation. You can walk through the forested grounds and explore the meditative vibes that inspired iconic albums like The White Album. Intricately carved stone archways and brick huts now lay abandoned but allow you to immerse yourself in the serenity of the space where music history was made.
The iconic Lakshman Jhula suspension bridge majestically spans the Ganges. Built in 1939, this pedestrian bridge sways high above the river connecting Tapovan to Jonk village. Local lore says Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Rama, crossed the river on this spot with the help of jute ropes. The bridge provides spectacular views of the rushing turquoise water and the city. Be sure to walk across the bridge to take in the sights and capture photos at sunset when the sky illuminates in a warm glow.
Neer Garh Waterfall
Situated not far from Lakshman Jhula, an easy 1.5 km trek through lush forest leads you to the impressive Neer Garh Waterfall. Cascading water plunges down in multiple tiers from a height of about 25 meters into a pristine pool below that is ideal for taking a cool dip on a hot day. The surrounding area is perfect for picnicking under the shade of trees. Don’t forget your camera to photograph the natural beauty of this waterfall oasis minutes from town.
One of the oldest and most sacred ashrams in Rishikesh, Swarga Ashram sits calmly along the bank of the Ganges as a peaceful haven of spirituality. Many ashrams and temples reside within this revered religious community first constructed in the early 1900s. You can visit iconic sites like the Kali Kamliwala Temple said to fulfill wishes or listen to Ganges aarti ceremonies on the river bank each evening. The beautiful nature, devout pilgrims and ambient chants create a profoundly serene ambiance.
Triveni Ghat is a prominent bathing ghat and sacred place along the river where pilgrims come to bathe, offer prayers and watch evening aarti rituals. The mesmerizing waterfront vista features steps leading down to the Ganges and an array of small shrines and temples. According to mythology, the invisible Saraswati River meets the visible Ganga and Yamuna rivers here, hence the name Triveni meaning “confluence of three rivers”. It’s especially atmospheric in the evenings when fire lamps light up the ghat and spiritual songs resonate.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
Nestled deep within the lush Rajaji National Park, the revered Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is encircled by dense forest and rocky cliffs, providing a peaceful ambiance to reflect and soak in the divine nature. According to legends, this is the sacred location where Lord Shiva consumed poison that turned his throat blue to protect the world. A 17 km trek route starting from Swarg Ashram passes through the wilderness taking you to the cave temple.
Perched atop Kunjapuri hill at 1645 meters, this temple dedicated to Goddess Shakti Durga grants a breathtaking panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range and Rishikesh valley. The 7 km trek up is gradual and takes you through the verdant nature of the Rajaji National Park. You can also hire scooty on rent in Rishikesh to reach the summit. Watching the sunrise or sunset over the far-reaching vistas is truly magical.
The Ganga Aarti
No trip to Rishikesh is complete without experiencing the special evening Ganga Aarti ceremony at Parmarth Niketan. As the sky darkens, the ghat comes to life with singing, chanting, bells ringing and blazing lamp offerings. Priests rhythmically wave large fire lamps to the sacred river in a hypnotizing ritual signifying divine spirituality. Floating leaf bowls with flowers and candles drift down the river with prayers and blessings.
The small town of Shivpuri, 16 km north of Rishikesh, is the perfect nature escape. It became renowned as the starting point for exhilarating whitewater rafting trips along the rapids of the Ganges. Rafters experience the thrill of grade 3 and 4 rapids with names like “The Wall” and “Golf Course”. Picturesque beaches next to camping sites draw visitors to relax under starry night skies. Water and adventure sport activities like kayaking are also popular.
Rajaji National Park
Spread over 820 square kilometers, Rajaji National Park protects lush forests, valleys and wildlife native to the Shivalik mountains. The park contains mixed deciduous and evergreen forests with roaming elephants, tigers and leopards along with many bird species. Safaris take you around beautiful wooded regions and past grand mountain vistas. Hiking trails are plentiful including to scenic waterfalls. Enjoy nature combined with spirituality around Rishikesh.
With sacred sites, adrenaline adventures, lush nature and yoga hotspots, Rishikesh offers endless things to see and do catering to all interests. By traversing pedestrian suspension bridges, gaining hilltop views, finding serenity along the Ganges or hitting thrilling rapids, visitors can craft their own epic experience in this holy city. Renting a scooty makes getting around easy allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the magic of Rishikesh. Whether on a spiritual journey or active holiday, Rishikesh will leave you feeling rejuvenated.