Situated at the base of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand, Rishikesh is one of the largest cities in India. It is sometimes referred to as the “Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas”. While Rishikesh is well known as a spot for pilgrimages, the stunning vistas and sprawling mountains make it attractive as a nature hotspot as well.
The River Ganga flows through this holy town, which is dotted with shrines and yoga ashrams. Rishikesh is also among a select few places in India that offer locals and tourists several avenues to try out adventure activities.
Rishikesh and another holy town Haridwar (located just 20 km away) have now been assigned the title ‘twin national heritage cities’. Alcohol and non-vegetarian food are banned in the city owing to its religious importance. Nonetheless, you can expect to witness some ancient wonders when you visit the city.
Making Your Trip Rishikesh an Unforgettable Experience
If you’re looking for a list of places to visit in Rishikesh, here’s our expert take on the same:
1. Laxman Jhula
Constructed in 1939, Lakshman Jhula is a suspension bridge that lies across River Ganga in the city of Rishikesh. The bridge stretches 450 feet and stands 70 feet tall from the waters running below.
According to Hindu folklore, this bridge was built in the same place where Lakshmana once crossed the River Ganga on a jute rope. Therefore, this is an important religious attraction in the city. It connects the districts of Pauri and Tehri.
2. Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is a famous pilgrim spot in Rishikesh which is open from 6 am to 7 pm every day. You’re likely to spend about an hour admiring the temple and its sacred aura.
The temple is perched at a height of 1,675 meters, on a hill above Swarg Ashram. The Neelkantha Mahadev Temple is among the important shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in the country.When you visit the temple, you have the option of picking up a few souvenirs to take back home.
3. Rajaji National Park
The national park is renowned for giving tourists their fix of wildlife and adventure.Ticket prices of 150 INR (Indians) and 600 INR (foreign nationals) for 3 hours is applicable. The park stays open throughout the week between 6 am to 9 am and 3 pm to 6 pm. The safari (on a jeep) roughly spans a couple of hours. Nestled between the Shivalik ranges and the Indo-Gangetic Plains, this is also one of India’s oldest ecosystems.
Located on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway, this place is a must-visit for adventure enthusiasts. Kaudiyala has one of the most frequented viewpoints in Rishikesh. Located at an elevation of 380 meters above sea level, it offers adventure junkies their adrenaline fix. The dense hill forests that surround the region is known to be hotbeds of flora and fauna. Some of the activities you can engage in are camping, zip lining, hiking, and whitewater rafting.
Located on the outskirts of Rishikesh, the little town of Shivpuri rests on the banks of the Ganges and has been named after a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. In recent years, this place has become renowned for adventure sports, especially white water rafting. Tourists can experience the mighty river Ganga at its beautiful best here. Other fun activities you can engage in include trekking, camping, rock climbing and rappelling amongst others.
6. Narendra Nagar
Narendra Nagare is well known for the panoramic view of nature it extends to visitors. Located just outside of Rishikesh, Narendra Nagar lies in the Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand and rests at a height of 1,326 meters above sea level. The town was founded in 1919 when the Tehri Garhwal ruler Maharaja Narendra Shah shifted his capital to the picturesque Odathali which later became known by the name Narendra Nagar. The place houses the destination spa ‘ Ananda – In The Himalayas’ overlooking the Doon Valley.
7. Triveni Ghat
The point where the three sacred rivers (as per Hindu Mythology) Yamuna, Ganga, and Saraswathi converge, Triveni Ghat is believed to possess magical powers that rid all those who take a dip off their sins. Devotees also perform ‘Surya Namaskar’ and feed marine life around the ghat. The place is splashed in vibrant hues during the ‘Maha Aarti’ celebration and is regarded as the most pious in the entire region.
8. Kunjapuri Temple
Situated at a distance of 25 km from Rishikesh, the temple sees multitudes of devotees during the Navratri festival. At an altitude of 1645 meters, Kunjapuri temple offers visitors with magnificent views of the Swarga Rohini, Bandarpunch, Chaukhamba, and Gangotri peak on the northern end and Doon valley on the southern end. The place is also recommended for those who love light treks. The sunrise here is not to be missed!
9. Beatles Ashram
Who doesn’t love The Beatles? The entire band traveled to India in the year 1968 to pay a visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and practice advanced mediation programmes under his supervision. The ashram almost instantaneously shot to fame and even adopted the band’s name. It was abandoned in 1997 but the structure still stands strong. Due to poor/incorrect mapping, the Beatles Ashram is said to be one of the toughest spots to get to, in Rishikesh. It has been decided to revamp the abandoned ashram into a heritage museum.
10. Bharat Mandir
Situated in the heart of the city, the temple positions itself at one of the oldest religious sites in the country. Local legend says that Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya was responsible for installing the current deity of this temple in 789 AD during the auspicious Basant Panchami. Even to this day, this festival is marked by a long procession where the idol is dipped in holy water and reinstalled. The temple is said to be as old as the city itself.
11. Vashistha Gufa
According to Hindu mythology, this is where Sage Vashistha and his wife meditated for several years. Set amidst Gular trees and overlooking the Ganges, the place is said to be perfect for all you peace-seekers out there. As years passed, an ashram was built on the spot which served as the residence for many sages. The cave is still well-maintained and can seat about 12 people. You can also find a Shiv linga at the end of the cave.
12. Swarga Ashram
Bordered by the Lakshman Jhula on one side and the Himalayan foothills on the other, Swarga Ashram boasts a divine ambiance. Considered to be the focal point of yoga and meditation in the city, the ashram was founded by Swami Atma Prakash. It extends residential spaces to over 100 individuals besides free food and other essentials. The ashram also houses a library with a great collection of books related to culture and religion.
‘Rishikund’, which literally translates to ‘Pond of the Sage’, is a natural hot spring in the city of Rishikesh. Situated in the vicinity of the Triveni Ghat, The spring is said to be the outcome of prayers offered to Goddess Yamuna by a huge number of devotees in the region. On a day with clear skies, the reflection of the nearby Raghunath Temple becomes visible on the water surface.
14. Ram Jhula
Similar to Lakshman Jhula, this is yet another architectural wonder in Rishikesh. Situated just 3 km away from the center of the city, the suspension bridge that stretches nearly 450 meters acts as the major connection between Swarga and Shivananda ashrams. The Shivananda Ashram Divine Life Society put in great efforts to build the bridge back in the 80s. The bridge promises magnificent views of the Ganges, so ensure that you’re carrying your DSLR.
15. Gita Bhavan
Situated on the banks of Ganges, the large complex houses an institute that conducts studies and imparts knowledge on Hinduism as a religion. Many cultural and religious events are held here as well. Gita Bhavan also extends accommodation, food, and education to pilgrims who visit the city. Boating facilities are also offered to guests. There’s also an in-house dispensary that provides ayurvedic medicines based on religious scriptures.
16. Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Resting in the lap of the Himalayas amidst lush greenery, this is the largest ashram in the city of Rishikesh. Frequented by followers from all over the world, the ashram is famous for its serene ambiance and surroundings. The ashram has over 1000 rooms offering great accommodation to devotees. The daily curriculum here includes meditation, chants, yoga, spiritual lessons, and singing hymns.
17. Neer Gaddu Waterfall
At a distance of 5 km from Lakshman Jhula, this waterfall can be easily accessed via Rishikesh Market. The waters here are pristine, the pools shallow and the surrounding abundantly green. The best thing about the waterfall is that it still remains a hidden gem. The waterfalls prove to be excellent backdrops for photographs. Visiting the falls is sure to induce composure among visitors
18. Tera Manzil Temple
Over its thirteen floors, Tera Manzil is sure to make you feel spiritually enlightened. Unlike most other temples in the city, this one enshrines multiple deities attracting all kinds of devotees. The architectural symmetry, pleasing atmosphere, and overall sanctity make this temple a must-visit. You can also enjoy gorgeous views of the landscape from the top floor. The temple is just walking distance away from Lakshman Jhula.
19. Jumpin Heights at Mohan Chatti Village
While Rishikesh offers adventure freaks with plenty of options to let loose, bungee jumping probably tops the list. Jumpin Heights offers visitors excellent options such as flying fox, giant swings and bungee jumping. This is apparently India’s highest point for bungee jumping. You’ll have to book in advance to enjoy these activities though. An expert team from New Zealand has helped in setting up the place.
20. Lakshman Temple
Dedicated to Lord Lakshmana (who is believed to have visited the place to meditate, according to Hindu mythology), the temple positions itself on the banks of the Ganges. The walls and ceilings are adorned with engravings. It is said to be where the Ram-Lakshman brothers came up with a plan to build a jute bridge over the Ganges. There are many sculptures and paintings here that are worth seeing.
At a distance of about 20 km from Rishikesh, Haridwar is another major pilgrimage spot in India. Haridwar is where River Ganga makes its descent into the plains. At an altitude of 314 meters, Haridwar acts as a gateway to many other pilgrimage sites such as Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri. Haridwar can be accessed by both road and rail.
The rafting point here is the last one to shut down each year. Located about 8 km from the heart of the city, the rafting activity at Brahmapuri is relatively more economical and safer. The four rapids here can be segregated into Grade I & Grade II and are deemed perfect for families and large groups. You can include rafting amongst numerous other fun activities in a package that roughly spans a couple of hours. Camping, bonfire, cliff jumps, and volleyball are some of the available options.
23. Raghunath Temple
The temple has been dedicated to Lord Ram and his consort Sita. The temple houses the Rishikund – the point where the rivers Ganga and Saraswathi collide. It is believed that Lord Ram took a bath at the tank (pond) which is located within the temple premises. The temple remains open from 6 AM to 8 PM every day. The interesting aspect of the pond is that it bears a reflection of the temple at all times.
24. Shatrughna Temple
At a distance of 4 km from the city center, the temple is stationed on the banks of Ganga. Also known by the name ‘Aadi Badrinarayan’ temple, this is one of the two temples dedicated to Lord Shatrughna (brother of Lord Ram), the other one being in Thrissur, Kerala. You can club a visit to the Ram Jhula along with this one as they’re located close to each other.
25. Omkarananda Ashram
This ashram, stationed at the base of the Himalayas, was founded by Gurudev Paramahamsa Omkarananda Saraswati, a philosopher, and saint. Iyengar Yoga, a form of the discipline where the focus is primarily on the precision of breath control and posture, is practiced here. It also conducts classes on Indian classical music and dance. You can hear prayer chants throughout the day when you visit the ashram.
26. Marine Drive
Camping at Marine Drive is said to be one of the most interesting activities to do when you visit Rishikesh. There are tour operators here offer who offer good-quality food, drinking water, and lodging to guests. While the packages often involve adventure activities (such as jungle trekking, cliff jumping, and body surfing), you can also choose to simply relax by the bonfire and listen to travel stories from people around the world.
27. Garud Chatti
Located at a distance of 4 km from Lakshman Jhula, Garud Chatti Falls is a popular halt, especially among foreign tourists. The waterfall is rather small-sized yet a great spot to while away a couple of hours, even as you stay within the city limits. You can get here either via a long walk or a jeep drive. A few tea stalls (serving hot and cold beverages) can be seen on the way to the falls.
28. Phool Chatti
About 3 km further from Garud Chatti lies another waterfall that is definitely worth a visit. The trekking path to the falls, however, is highly slippery; so we’d recommend you to be wearing the right kind of footwear and protective gear. Situated on Neelkanth Road, a visit to Phool Chatti and Garud Chatti can actually be combined. Ready your camera for some splendid photography ops too!
While Dehradun needs to be paid a separate visit, we’d still include it as a part of this list because it’s less than an hour’s drive away from Rishikesh. The capital of Uttarakhand is Situated in the Doon valley at the foothills of the Himalayas. With the Yamuna on the west and the Ganga on the east, Dehradun has a tonne of history associated with the two Hindu epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata.
30. Muni Ki Reti
Part of the Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, the name translates to ‘Sands of the Sages’. The place is home to a multitude of ashrams, temples and yoga centers. It used to be the meditation spot for sages back in the days. The Rishikesh railway station is located just 3 km away and can be reached through share-autos. Some of the famous ashrams here include Kailash, Swarga, and Shivananda.
Even with this list of 30 places to visit in Rishikesh, we are bound to have missed out on a few offbeat spots or hidden gems located in/around the city. In case you felt so, let us know in the ‘comments’ section below.
You can book a comfortable stay at a Treebo property in Rishikesh when you visit!