Saturday, April 13, 2024

Tourism      Pilgrim Centers      Hindu Pilgrimages      Uttarakhand     Rishikesh    


Place : Uttarakhand
Significance : Serves as the base for the Char Dham Pilgrimage
Best time to Visit : Throughout the year

One of the major Hindu pilgrim centers, Rishikesh is surrounded by Himalayan foothills, where the Holy Ganges foams over white boulders. known as the World Capital of Yoga, Rishikesh is a small town in the northern state of Uttarakhand in India. Also serves as the base for the Char Dham Pilgrimage (Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath) , Rishikesh is a place of natural beauty with its rushing water, giant trees etc. 

Also known as the 'gateway to the land of the gods', thousands of Hindus come here to absolve themselves of their sins by bathing in the holy Ganges.

One can see thousands of golden marigolds and devotional candles mounted on banana leaves are float picturesquely on the river. Rishikesh is place where one can experience the spirit of India. Everywhere in Rishikesh, one can see pilgrims taking baths, performing yoga. There is hundreds of sadhus with long matted hair who were roaming on the ghats.

According to legend, the ancient king Bhagirath invoked the goddess Ganga to descend from heaven by performing austere penances for thousands of years. Moved by his supplication, Ganga descended with such torrential force that Lord Shiva had to curb the deluge by entangling her mighty stream among the matter locks of his hair. He released her gradually, starting high in the Himalayas-at Rishikesh and Haridwar, her decent from heaven become complete.

Rishikesh has been the abode of sages and it is where Raibhya Rishi did penance to please Hrishikesh, the another name of Lord Vishnu, hence the name, Rishikesh. 

Rishikesh is also known for its ashrams for yoga, meditation, Indian classical music and dance, Hindi and Sanskrit and religious centres in the serene surroundings of the Himalayan foothills. So it is an ideal destination not only for pilgrims but also for the people who are interested in medtation and Yoga. The famous International Yoga week , is held here, every year, in February - March on the banks of the Ganga.

The festival includes demonstrations and classes in asanas, meditation, pranayama, lectures by yogic leaders and experts, cultural programmes, consultations with yoga acharyas, evening divine ganga aarati etc.

Yoga and Meditation Section,
Parmarth Niketan
P.O. Swargashram,
Rishikesh (Himalayas) 249304, India
Phone: (0135) 2440077, 2440088, 2440440
[from abroad dial +91-135 instead of 0135];
Fax: (0135) 2440066

Rishikesh is also famous among the rafting enthusiasts. Rishikesh provides one of the the best rafting routes in the world. Since 1990s, rafting has gained popularity in Rishikesh, After the state Uttarakhand formed in 2000, the rafting industry has gained momentum in Rishikesh. The river stretch from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh, which is about 40-km stretch,is the world famous rafting route. Several rafting companies have set up their camps all along river Ganga from Beasi to Rishikesh which offers some rafting courses also.

Rishikesh is also significant as a centre for other riverine sports, a base for treks and hikes in the beautiful Garhwal Himalayas

Places to See

Lakshman Jhula
The suspension iron bridge Lakshman Jhula has been a major attraction among the tourists to Rishikesh. It is about 2 kms from Ram Jhoola. Built in 1929 to replace a rope bridge, it is a 450 feet long bridge situated at a height of 70 feet from the river. This is where Rama's brother Lakshman is said to have crossed the river on a jute ropes. This bridge is an adjoining bridge across the Ganga, along the old route to the shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath. One can experience the picturesque surroundings and the cool breeze from the River while standing on the bridge. There are two beautiful temples maintained by Kailashanand Trust on one side of the bridge.

Ram Jhula
The other suspension bridge close to Lakshman Juhla is the Ram Jhula. It is a newly built bridge that connects the Shivanand Ashram on the east bank to with Swarg Ashram on the west. So it is also known as Shivanand Jhula. Similar to the Lakshman Jhula, it is a pleasant walk along the bank of Kailashnand Ashram to this bridge. 

Triveni Ghat
It is the main ghat where devotees perform religious rites and ceremonies. The dusk Aarti on the Triveni Ghat is most impressive. One can see barefoot devotees sit in rows on the steps of the Ghat and make offerings of milk to the river and feed the large fish. As the sun begins to set, people set floating lamps on the water in the Ganga Aarti ceremony. It is a ceremony of worship, remembrance and hope. There is a changing rooms for women. Nearby is the Bharat Mandir. 

Bharat Mandir
It is the oldest temple in Rishikesh, situated near to Triveni Ghat. Though the temple is dedicated to Lord Mahavishnu, it holds a number of image normalley associated with the worship of Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu is worshipped as an image carved from a single black saligram stone, beneath a Sri Yantra representing Lakshmi, his consort.

Gita Bhavan
This newly constructed building is famous for its attractive paintings and statues from the Hindu mythology. Situated just across the Lakshman Jhula.

Places to See

There are many important ashrams in Rishkesh. Most ashrams are centres for spiritual studies which also calls for Physical disciplines. Some ashrams, however, are monasteries. Among the better known ashrams are :- Paremarth Niketan. It is located in Swargashram, near the Ram Jhoola on the right bank of Ganga. 
Parmarth Niketan
P.O. Swargashram, 
Rishikesh (Himalayas) 249304, India
Phone: (0135) 2440077, 2440088, 2440440 
[from abroad dial +91-135 instead of 0135];
Fax: (0135) 2440066
E-mail: ContactTimings Summer 6-7 pm, winter 5.30-6.30 pm.

Kailash Ashram
It is a traditional Hindu Ashram located beyond the Sivananda Ashram. It is famous as a place for Sanskrit and Vedadantic studies. Each evening, an Aarti to Shiva in the main temple fills the hall with prayers.

Sivanand Ashram, Yoga Niketan, Omkaranand Ashram, Vanprastha Ashram, Ved Niketan, Dayanand Vedanta Ashram, Vanmali Gita Yogashram, Shankaracharya Nagar Transcendental Meditatation Centre, Vithal Ashram and Yoga Study Centre.

Mast Ram Baba Ashram
It is on the opposite bank, beyond Lakshman Jhula Bridge. One can visit the cave among the rocks and the sand where this contemporary saint lived for many years.

Neem Karoli Baba Ashram
It is just outside Rishikesh along the road to Haridwar. A forty-foot statue of the monkey god Hanuman towers above the Ashram. Devotees are welcome to vist but there are no accommodations.

Shivananda Ashram
It is one of the largest and best known Ashrams in India. It is near Ram Jhula Bridge. Anyone is welcome to attend the daily meditations and yoga classes here