Rishikesh has two main areas. The town is the busy, crowded area near the railway and bus stations. Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula are 3 - 4 km from the town by road or river and these are where most of the hotels, guest houses, cafés and shops favoured by travellers are found. (The Jhulas are the pedestrian suspension bridges across the Ganges.)
The Laxman Jhula footbridge
In Laxman Jhula, a few minutes walk from Seventh Heaven, and in Ram Jhula, one kilometre down river, you will find the many temples and ashrams that define Rishikesh Health, Wellness and Fitness, vibrant with the sound of bells and busy with visitors and pilgrims. You can enjoy the colourful nightly aarthi to the Goddess Ganga-ji which is held at sunset each day. Or draw on the restorative calm of the many yoga centres for which Rishikesh is famous. We have our own spacious yoga studio with views to east and west and at most times of the year, offer a daily drop in class - or we can arrange for individual tuition to suit your needs. The yoga studio is also available if you wish to bring your own group to do yoga or indeed other therapies or teachings - we can accommodate groups of up to 15 people. The Beatles ashram is within ten minutes walk of Parmanth Niketan where the evening Aarthi is held near Ram Jhula, so this can be a perfect afternoon walk to explore the half-ruined ashram, and then go to the beautiful sunset ceremony of blessing, with it's lamps and chanting, on the banks of the Ganges.
About an hour's drive along the mountain road on the left bank of the Ganges. is Vashisht Gufa - an ancient cave temple where Vashisht, the guru of Lord Rama meditated - and on the other (East) side of the Ganges is Neelkanth Mahadev Temple. You can walk the 7 km along a forest path from Swarg Ashram or take a shared jeep from Laxman Jhula along winding mountain roads. Neelkanth means 'blue throat' and is one of the names of Shiva because he drank poison churned from the oceans which turned his throat blue.
Kunjapuri Temple, at a height of 1650m (5,300 feet), is a peaceful and beautiful temple with wonderful panoramic views of the snow-capped mountain ranges of the Himalayas to one side and the broad Indo-Gangetic plain on the other. For keen walkers it is possible to go on foot - the walk goes via a lovely waterfall and local villages - or we can arrange a guide and a jeep which will either take you and drop you off at the temple (at sunrise if you wish) so you can walk down. Or, if you prefer walking up to down (more demanding but less stressful on the knees!), the guide will take you and you can be collected at the top. The guides are very knowledgeable, both about local flora and fauna and about the legends and deities connected with the temple. You can also go both ways by car - it is an easy journey of less than an hour along winding mountain roads.
Tapkeshwar Temple, 5 km from Dehradun, is also a very old cave temple and derives its name from the sound of natural water droplets dripping over the shrine from the rocks of the cave.
There are pleasant walks nearby along the river to waterfalls, beaches and shrines... Or for thrills, try an 83m bungy jump.
In the nearby Rajaji National Park, nature lovers can find over 800 square km of forested park with wildlife including wild elephants, tigers, leopards, chital deer and sloth bears, over 300 species of birdlife and many forest types.
Dehra Dun, about an hour and a half by road, is the state capital of Uttarakhand (previously Uttaranchal) and lies between two of India's greatest rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna. It has various museums of interest including the Wildlife Institute and the Forest Research Institute.
In the Clement Town part of Dehra Dun there is a thriving Tibetan village with the Mindrolling Buddhist monastery, boasting a five-storey stupa and 35m high gold statue of the Buddha dedicated to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama as well as murals, thangkas and Tibetan artwork.
Inside the monastery
Statue of Tara
A column inside the monastery
Rishikesh is also the gateway to the Himalayas and an ideal base for visiting the hill stations for which Uttarakhand is famous - Mussoorie, Nainital, Almora, Uttarkashi (home of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering), Hemkund and the Valley of the Flowers, Ranikhet; and it is the starting point for the Char Daam, the four places of pilgrimage which for Hindus are among the most sacred - Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath, believed to be the four sources of the sacred river Ganges.