Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rishikesh : Spiritual travel destination-II

A quietly flowing river, white sandy beaches, hills all around, temples and ashrams dotting the landscape - this is Rishikesh. Or Hrisikesh as we were taught in schools. Located on the foothills of Himalaya, Rishikesh is a very popular destination with spiritual travelers, specially those from the west seeking solace in Hinduism and Yoga. It is equally popular with adventure seeking tourists for white water rafting. White water rafting starts at places like Kauriyala, few km up on the Badrinath road. But all white water rafting trips ends at Rishikesh where the gushing white water of the Ganges embraces tranquility, as if pausing for a brief moment here for continuing the its downward journey in the plains.

It is located just 24 kms from Haridwar (and 44 km from Dehradun). So those who come to Haridwar cannot avoid visiting Rishikesh. The 24 km road through jungles and hills has many ashrams, including that of famous Baba Ramdev who has given Yoga a new dimension. Conducted tours from Delhi normally take travelers to both Rishikesh and Hardiwar. We had once taken such a trip from Delhi arranged through hotel. That was a long time back. But they follow the same route from Delhi. The bus dropped us at the famous Laxman Jhula at unearthly hours of early morning. In the darkness of night we could not see the famed bridge, but could only feel walking on it and the cold wind gushing us. We all went through a detour of temples like machines and came to the bus. The bus then took us to Haridwar. Nearly 20 years on, when I look back at that trip, I understood what a waste of time it was. Rishikesh is a peaceful and beautiful place. It might have more pristine beauty 20 years back.

The 44 km drive from Dehradun takes about an hour. The road goes through the Rajaji National Park and will greet you with few sharp curves and small hilly stretches. Infact, the altitude of Rishikesh is almost half that of Dehradun. So, we actually go down to Rishikesh even though we feel like climbing up. On the way (after a place called Doiwalla) you get to see the Jolly Grant Airport. This is the only airport catering to Dehradun, Haridwar and Rishikesh. An Air Deccan flight operates daily from Delhi. Road signs are good and you will not have any difficulty in reaching the area near Laxman Jhula. The starts climbing up about half km to the bridge and also becomes narrow. This road goes to Badrinath via Byashi. So, this in fact is the gateway for the Chardham Yatra, though Haridwar also claims to be the gateway. There are parking places both along the road and also at the sandy beaches on the riverbed. My suggestion is to try finding a place on the road rather than try going down to the river bed parking. Going down will not be a problem, but coming up will certainly be as the alley is very steep and open straight into the narrow main road. I had always chosen to park it at parking places on the main road beyond the Laxman Jhula. They normally charges Rs.20/- for parking.

Laxman Jhula is the main attraction at Rishikesh. It is a hanging bridge. The bridge is strong enough for locals to cross with two wheelers. The bridge in the backdrop of the hills provides a majestic view. There are many temples on the other side of the bridge. One can go down to the riverbed from both sides. If you are staying in Ashram, then probably most of them provide you a site where you can sit peacefully and enjoy the tranquility. For day travelers like us, there are sitting benches on the banks where you can enjoy or feel what the ashrams provides at no cost. Many resorts have also come up which are located further up in the hills on the Badrinath highway. They probably come in all ranges. One can easily find many of them from the net. If you plan to stay in Rishikesh, seriously think about staying in one of these resorts. They will be worth staying. But one needs conveyance, own or hired, to stay in these places as they are actually outside the town limits. I thought of staying in one of these resorts on several occasion. But there is so much to see in Uttaranchal and so many places to visit. Rishikesh was the second nearest tourist destination from Dehradun. It just remained a thought though. But as we have moved away from Dehradun, this dream may become reality someday.

How to travel from Delhi:
I have ben travelling a lot between Delhi and Dehradun by bus because of my job assignments at Delhi. Standing at the Kashmere Gate ISBT from where buses to Rishikesh leaves, I had observed that many good quality buses goes to Rishikesh. Infact buses going to Rishikesh was more frequesnt and better than those going to Dehradun. The fare for Govt. run delux buses is around INR Rs.250/-. It varies from operator to opearator. My advice of travelling only by Govt. buses stsnds here as well.

You can also think of taking the Air Deccan daily flight between Delhi and Dehradun. The flight fare is about INR Rs.2500/-. But honestly speaking, the time it will take for you to go to airport at Delhi, the time you spend at airport and then the time to travel out of airport will be almost as long as that travelling by bus. The option, of course is to travel by train to Haridwar and then thre are many ways to travel the final 24 km from Haridwar.


kavitha said...


You have quite an interesting blog here. I still need to go through it.

Warm regds

Anonymous said...

Ajay Mumbai

A very good description. You may also include some tips on travelling to these places, like transport available, good hotels etc. from a tourists viewpoint.
Good work . Keep it up!

Prayag said...

great help however can I get some info about the ashrams n meditation/yoga camps n classes in July n whats the weather in July can expect atleast 10days of sunshine tillJuly 15th in Rishikesh/haridwar?

surviving in 3 to 46 centigrade said...

hi! i have read many post tht u have posted.i think they are not only interesting, informative but they also have an element that many others lack- simple & easy! the way it has been explained is quite good and makes one read more & more.

keep posting!

Aparna A said...
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