Home to the Annual International Yoga Festival and once made famous by the residential status of The Beatles, Rishikesh is one of the favourite hang outs of western tourists, backpackers and spiritual seekers and a major pilgrimage place for Hindus. Located in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, Rishikesh is situated along the banks of the holy Ganges River.
According to legend, a Hindu Rishi (sage) did penance at the site on the banks of the river and was rewarded with the appearance of God in the form of Hrishikesh or Lord Krishna. Legend also states that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the demon King of Lanka, although other myths say that it was actually Bharat, brother of Lord Rama. Whatever the origin, Rishikesh is a very spiritual place and abounds with temples and ashrams. One of the earliest Ashrams was founded by Swami Sivananda. The Divine Life Society today is one of the most popular ashrams and holds prime position along the banks of the river.
The famous Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had his own ashram in Rishikesh and it was to this spot that many popular international figures such as The Beatles, Mia Farrow, Donovan and Mike Love of the Beach Boys were drawn during its heyday in the 1960s. The ashram is now in ruins, but if you pay the gateman to let you in, you can wander through the overgrown pathways, explore the cute little meditation huts and the buildings still remaining.
Today, Rishikesh is a part of Uttaranchal which became the 28th state of the Republic of India on November 9, 2000. It is also known as the gateway to the Himalayas and is the starting point for travel to the sites that form the Char Dham pilgrimage – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of moksha, as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it.
To visit Rishikesh, contact us now to arrange an Add-on to one of our Group Tours.