Rishikesh is the adventure capital of India. From white water rafting to Yoga there are so many things to do in Rishikesh that you will want to return again and again.
Whether you are visiting India for the first time or have already explored other regions of the country, Rishikesh offers you a great escape from the hustle and bustle of other Indian cities.
The 12 Best Things To Do In Rishikesh
Located in the foothills of the Himilayas and positioned along the holy river the Ganges, this is a perfect place to try your hand at some adventure activities.
Or if you are looking for something a little more laid back, you can explore the beautiful holy sites or get a heavenly Ayurvedic Massage.
Whatever your pleasure this guide will explore all of the cool things to do in Rishikesh, India.
3 to 4 days should be enough in Rishikesh. If you want to delve deeper into the culture or do a Yoga retreat then 1 week or more is recommended.
1. Whitewater Rafting
If you are looking for some adventure on the water then river rafting in Rishikesh is something you have to do.
We have rafted in places like New Zealand, Ottawa, and Fiji and we can honestly say this is one adventure sport that allows you to witness the beauty of a destination while getting your adrenaline pumping at the same time.
The best time of the year to try river rafting in Rishikesh is between March and June as the river is not too high.
Day trips run regularly. If you are really into whitewater rafting you can also book an overnight trip, where you camp on the banks of the river as well.
Places like Marine Drive, Shivpuri, Brahmapuri, Phoolchatti, and Kaudiyala are all excellent places for adventure.
2. Visit the many Holy Places
Experience the harmony of Rishikesh by visiting its Holy places.
Rishikesh is known as the Land of Gods. The town is considered to be one of the divine places in India. Every year, hundreds of pilgrims visit the holy land to find solace.
It is also a popular retreat where many Ashrams offer bliss and ecstasy for a spiritual escape.
The top Temples and Ashrams to visit in Rishikesh
- Rishi Kund
- Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
- Parmarth Niketan
- Swarg Ashram
- Geeta Bhawan
- Shivananad Ashram
- Lakshman Temple
- Kunjapuri Devi Temple
- Raghunath Temple.
Visit these places to do meditation or witness the seraphic environment. You can also attend or participate in spiritual meets like Satsang or Kirtan.
3. Go Trekking in the Himalayas
You can't come to Rishikesh and not venture into the mountains for some hiking.
Depending on what your comfort level is you can hike to many of the hill stations around Rishikesh like Dehradun, Sattal, or Kanatal.
If you are looking for something a little more challenging then something like the Valley of Flowers Trek or the Kunjapuri Trek might be more up your alley.
There are also some amazing waterfall hikes that take you into some of the most beautiful scenes you will see in the area.
The Neer Garh Waterfall is probably the most popular as it is the easiest to access.
4. Witness the Ganga Aarti on the banks of the River Ganges
The Ganga Aarti is a ritual that takes place every evening on the banks of the Ganges river in Rishikesh, Varanasi, and Haridwar.
It is a beautiful thing to witness and photograph as the students from the Parmarth Niketan Ashram chant and set forth fire offerings into the river.
This is always at the top of my things to see in Rishikesh list.
Make sure to get there early to get a great seat as this is something you do not want to miss.
5. Sink into The Divinity Of the River Ganges
The energy of the river Ganges is palpable and sacred. It is considered that a dip in the holy river Ganges can relieve a person from all their sins.
Triveni and Parmarth are the two famous Ghats in Rishikesh. Triveni Ghat is famous for the confluence of three holy rivers- Ganga, Yamuna (Jamuna) and Saraswati.
6. Yoga and Ayurveda
Unwind With The Magic Of Yoga And Ayurveda in Rishikesh
Being the yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh is the hub for many renowned yoga schools and meditation centers.
Yoga is one of the greatest gifts to the globe and many aspiring yogis visit this divine land to seek authentic and traditional teaching of yoga by the yoga aficionados.
You can undergo a yoga retreat program or yoga teacher training for in-depth knowledge of yoga.
Also, you may want to experience the relaxing therapies and healing treatments of Ayurveda for the body and mind rejuvenation.
7. Visit The Beatles Ashram
Back in 1968, The Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram for Transcendental meditation. It really put Rishikesh on the map.
Nowadays the Ashram is abandoned but it is still an interesting place to visit.
The lecture hall has been turned into an art project called the Beatles Cathedral complete with Beatles' lyrics and pictures.
It is worth seeking out especially if you have any interest in the band.
8. Chill in a Cafe and take in the Views
Rishikesh has the power to add colors and beauty to every being’s life who visits it. The quaint scenic beauty of the town has is one of the reasons people come from all around the world to visit.
There is nothing more relaxing than grabbing a coffee or chai at one of the many cafes and just taking in the breathtaking scenery.
The city is surrounded by breathtaking mountains and offers you the opportunity to enjoy leisure time in the pristine lap of nature, away from the city chaos.
Some of my favorites cafés in Rishikesh are:
- Ganga View Cafe
- Little Buddha Cafe
- The Cafe De Goa.
There are many waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries, and national parks that make Rishikesh a natural town of diversity.
It is all about relaxing when visiting Rishikesh.
9. Try Some Fingerlicious Food
Being a holy city, alcohol and non-vegetarian food is banned in Rishikesh.
Rishikesh offers a wide variety of delectable food from vegan to sattvic to Indian and Continental.
Being a destination that sees a number of tourists, it caters to other tastes as well.
Not only can you relish the flavors of Indian cuisine, but people can also enjoy international cuisine including Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Israeli, Thai, Continental, and many more.
To enjoy these lip-smacking cuisines, visit cafes and restaurants like Bistro Nirvana, Oasis Restaurant and German Bakery, The Sitting Elephant, Little Buddha, Chotiwala, etc.
Even food served by cafes in the hostels is also quite delectable.
10. Adventure Sports in Rishikesh
Being the adventure capital of India, Rishikesh does not disappoint.
There are so many adrenaline-filled activities here that you wouldn't be able to do them all in one trip.
If you are a real adventure seeker then activities like paragliding, cliff jumping and bungee jumping will be on your list.
If you are not that extreme then try your hand at rock climbing or mountain biking. It is a great way to add some adventure into your Rishikesh vacation.
For more of a mellow type of adventure make sure to check out the Flying Fox for some speed and epic vistas.
11. Visit the Rishikesh Markets
Like most cities in India, you cannot leave without checking out the market and shopping. The narrow streets of Rishikesh offer everything from handicrafts to traditional clothing and are fun to walk through.
It is also a great place to brush up on your negotiating skills as bargaining is a way of life in the markets of Rishikesh.
So put on your negotiating cap and barter like the locals do. It can be a ton of fun.
12. Get Lost in the Streets
The best way to truly appreciate Rishikesh is to invest time in taking a full-day tour of this beautiful town.
Make sure you visit places like the Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula, and Rajaji National Park. They are not to be missed.
Finally, make sure you chat with the locals. India has some of the most friendly people and when you are able to sit and chat with them it really gives you an appreciation for the country as a whole.
Rishikesh is the town of yoga and love — a perfect example of a traveling treat and sundry experience.
Visit any time of the year and free yourself from the anguish of daily life stresses.
How to get to Rishikesh
Air- There are no direct flights to Rishikesh, but you can take a flight from the nearby airport and then travel to Rishikesh, via road.
You can travel from New Delhi (Indira Gandhi International Airport) and then take a private cab to Rishikesh or you can travel by bus from there. You can also travel from Dehradun which has a Domestic Airport (Jolly Grant) and then take a taxi or bus.
Rail- To travel via railways, you can opt for the services that end in Haridwar or Dehradun, and then travel by road.
Road- Road is another convenient way of traveling. You can hire a personal cab or you can book a bus from Delhi. You can directly go to a bus stand and book tickets or can also book in advance through the various websites.
Where to Stay in Rishikesh
There are many amazing places to stay in Rishikesh- from the luxurious hotels and resorts to budget hostels and calming Ashrams.
On a budget? Check out these places:
Looking for some more comfort? Check out these places:
Want some Luxury? Check out these places:
Make a prior booking to avoid last-minute chaos.
Have you been to Rishikesh? What are your favorite things to see and do?
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Author Bio :
Manmohan Singh is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India and has visited Rishikesh many times.
He provides Yoga Teacher Training in India. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.