The world capital of yoga, Rishikesh is at the crossroads of the Ganges River, with imposing, grand mountains and a modern pace of life that slows down just a little in the presence of religious devotion. Rishikesh is the place you go to rediscover the wonder of nature, trace the steps of Indian history and relax while exploring.
There are many yoga teacher training camps known as "shalas" or "ashrams" that invite devotees to strike a pose in deep meditation. Join fellow visitors in a peaceful vinyasa flow. Om!
Whether you love high-adrenaline white-water rafting, mountain climbing or soft treks and trails for peaceful bird watching, communing with nature is a viable activity in Rishikesh.
Because it lives so close to the Ganges, India's holy river, you can't help but get swept up in the sacred temples all around you. Notable in particular for the beauty and grace are Trayambakeshwar Temple and Swarg Ashram.
From yummy, roadside food-stalls serving up friend sweets and spiced meats, there are plenty of traditional thalis, western food like pizza and pasta as well as healthier, organic meals like salads.
Besides local religious festivals and fairs known as "melas", Rishikesh is the spot for the celebration of "Saavan", which means "rain" in Hindi. Expect to see thousands flock to the tiny city in July for celebrations and parades.
The Lakshman "Jhula" is a play on words. It's 450 feet long and rests at a height of 70 feet above the water. This suspension bridge has earned its playful name from the Hindi word "jhula", which means swing. And swing it does! It's not only a major travel route but also a religious attraction. Hindu legend has it that this very crossing was where Lakshmana crossed the Ganges on a jute rope. Today, however, the suspension bridge, while still being thrillingly flexible, tensile and mobile, is also well reinforced and safe. Take a trip across and be prepared to have your heart in your mouth as you reach its low-hanging mid-point.
There is something about the peace, spirituality and mysticism of any Indian ashram which makes these spots a real draw for lovers of the metaphysical. Yet, no group drew as much attention to the concept and the space than the Beatles during their 1968 sojourn. Together, they wrote and produced here while having deep, transcendental "sessions" and "experiences", which is said to have enhanced their creativity. It's well worth a visit and a dip in its inner sanctum could spark your own creative urges, too.
You'll come to see the second largest reserve of Indian tigers but you'll stay for the delicate ecosystem that supports peaceful elephants, interesting monuments and stunning views, thanks to the park being nestled between the Indo-Gangetic Plains and the Shivalik ranges. Rajaji National Park offers "glamping" opportunities, with cottages, exciting forest safaris in Jeeps with local guides and visits to the impressive and sacred Sureshwari Devi Temple.
With over a thousand rooms to explore and beautiful, serene parks thronging with devotees, Parmarth Niketan is the largest ashram in Niketan. It is open to the general public at all times, as well as its own meditating residents. Plenty of Indian festivals such as Diwali and Dusshera are celebrated in the ashram but it is the meditation camps and yogic workshops that draw the curious as well as those who are already quite knowledgeable about the Indian "sciences" and philosophies. This ashram is where the practice of these ideas is given free rein.
Shivpuri is a small town within a town. Just a few miles out of Rishikesh, this fascinating place is centered around a massive temple built for Lord Shiva. But the activities are less spiritual and more physical: Shivpuri is where traveler comes to take advantage of the MHE Beach Camp, which features sandy beaches, camping tents, relaxing canopies, and the opportunity to kayak along the nearby river. There are plenty of eco-guides and tours available here and Shivpuri also offers travelers the opportunity to take part in thrilling white water rafting.
Rishikesh's climate is on par for Northern India, with cooler winters, from 46°F to 68°F, and warm summers, between 68°F to 95°F. July to September is officially monsoon season.
Rishikesh is serviced by Dehradun's Jolly Grant airport, which is 9.3 miles away. From the airport, grab a taxi for around ₹650 to ₹975.
There are lots of different services of trains, like the Shatabadi Express or Mussoorie Express, depending on the city of origin. Haridwar to Rishikesh on the Shatabdi is ₹650.
Book a prepaid car rental or taxi cab from companies like Saavari. Day rates start at 2,427 for a journey from Dehradun to Rishikesh.
Traveling by bus from Delhi, fares start at ₹130-₹350 for a standard bus and ₹200-₹500 for an air-conditioned bus.
For a luxury stay, there's no better place than the boutique Hotel Ganga Kinare. Wake up to morning yoga at Hotel Prasanna Inn. Budget-conscious travelers enjoy Ananda Guesthouse.
Lakshman Jhula - The 450-foot iron suspension bridge is also a signifying feature and the name of this district. It is home to many hotels for tourists and ashrams.
High Bank - Up-river from Lakhsman Jhula is the quiet and serene High Bank. Several locals and travelers alike stay here for access to the Himalayan foothills and banks of the Ganges.
Gangapar - Is home to the Swarg Ashram, the epicenter for all things yoga and meditation.
Get around on foot or grab a autorickshaw. They're noisy but at ₹8, they're cheap. You can also get regular rickshaws for ₹24.3/mile.
Taxis in Rishikesh must be booked in advance from companies like Rishikesh Car Rental Service for ₹5,500 in Tapovan.
Book car rental packages from operators like Shubh Yatra Tours. Trips around Uttarkhand start at ₹5,000.
There's not much in the way of shopping but there are plenty of open air kiosks and stalls as well as pop-up markets on the weekends for local crafts, spices, food and yoga gear in Swarg Ashram.
A quart of milk costs ₹11.25 and a dozen eggs are ₹12.40
If you're in the mood for some classic Indian thalis, Chotiwala in Swarg Ashram is your spot. Meals start at ₹100.