Friday, 5 May 2017

Rishikesh ~ India


 Rishikesh was the next destination on our India itinerary after visiting Haridwar. Rishikesh is in state of Uttarakand. It is set in  Himalayan foot hills where the ganges flows. The history behind Rishikesh is that has been a part of the legendary 'Kedarkhand'  now known as Garhwal; a princely state that was ruled by the Garhwali Rajput Dynasty. It is thought that Lord Rama did his penance at this place after he killed the demon  King Ravana.

There are many temples and ashrams to visit in Rishikesh, together with places like the Ram Jhula and the Laxman Jhula. These are foot bridges spanning over the Ganges where Laxman  and Lord Ram had used to cross the Ganges. The bridges which were originally made from rope were reconstructed from steel to make them more durable. We walked across these to cross the river from one side to the other, the crossing can be made by boat also.



Rishikesh is also well known for Ayurveda treatments and there are many centers that offer coaching and training in ayurvedic medicine. It is a home for travellers seeking solace, spirituality and yoga. Pilgrims flock to Rishikesh to offer prayers to the Ganges and it is also the starting point for travelling to the four Chota Char Dham pilgrimage places - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.


 Like Haridwar Rishikesh also offers Ganga Aarti, it is conducted at the Triveni Ghat and is also at the Parmarth Niketan but because both aartis are performed at sunset we had to make the choice to attend one of them only. The aartis are beautifully conducted using fire lamps and synchronised to spiritual music.


The visitors are invited to partake in the aarti too, volunteers passed around the divine lighted lamps for everyone to participate. The dramatics of the aarti are little staged for the tourists but never the less it is beautiful, more serene and calmer than our experience of the Ganga aarti at Haridwar.


The highlight of our trip to Rishikesh was the visit to the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple. It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Nilkanth, an aspect of Shiva. It was thought the temple is marking the place where Lord Shiva saved the world by drinking the poison churned from the ocean. The temple is situated 32 km from Rishikesh, high up in the valleys of Manikoot, Brahmakoot and Vishnukoot and is located at the meeting of the rivers Pankaja and Madhumati.



The ride up to the temple which is situated 1330km high is through steep and narrow winding mountain roads. The scenery is spectacular and you will catch glimpse of many wild life residing in the mountains especially monkeys. Along the route, dotted on the river banks of the Ganges there are many campsites where travelers can stay and enjoy white water rafting. You can also find many Ashrams in the woodlands offering travelers a retreat to practice yoga and meditate.


The temple itself is pretty small, the walk up to the temple from the car park is lined with vendors selling religious artifacts and flowers and offerings. There are many food and tea vendors dotted around too.


We did find that we had to queue up to visit the inside of the temple to offer our prayers to the Lord Shiva shrine inside. The queue did not seem too bad and worshipers were creating a beautiful spiritual atmosphere as they chanted the name of lord Shiva whilst queuing. Once we reached the darshan point, we were able to offer our prayers but we did feel it was a little rushed and personally, I would have like to have had a little more time to soak up the atmosphere. Sadly because of the volume of people there this was not possible. Ideally it would be better to visit the temple at off peak times but due to its reach it’s difficult to make the journey too early or too late in the day as the roads are very tricky leading up to the temple.I would highly recommend visit to this temple both for the Darshan (prayers) and for the views which are spectacular.




On day two of our stay at Rishikesh we spent the day wondering around the shopping area, there are three tourist markets, one near Laxman Jhula, one near Ram Jhula and the third near the Triveni Ghat. In the markets you can buy many handicrafts, a range of religious paraphernalia, costume jewellery, kurta tops, cotton trousers and beautiful and colourful cloth bags and scarves.


For the more adventurous people there are many other things to do in Rishikesh such as bungee Jumping, Trekking, white water rafting, camping, kayaking and rock climbing too.


In all our experience of Rishikesh was serene calm and beautiful and I would love to return for a longer stay and to perhaps attend a yoga retreat.

To follow my India travel series do check out my previous post:
10 Essentials to carry in your hand luggage.
Top 15 India travel Tips



48 comments:

  1. Wow, this looks like an amazing trip. I've never been to India but my husband has and he loves it, so much diversity and he found the people to be very welcoming and hospitable. Mich x

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  2. This looks like such an interesting and beautiful place. The temple looks fascinating, it's a shame your visit there was so rushed!

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  3. It sounds like such a lovely place to visit, Nayna. I love the fact you've described the history / beliefs behind the place. I love ayurvedic treatments: I'd be in paradise there. The photos really make me want to go and visit Rishikesh. I have never been to India and it's definitely on my list of places to visit. x

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  4. It sounds like a lovely place to visit, also how beautiful does the temple look with all the sculptures as well as the bright colours :)

    Denise | The Life of Dee

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  5. I love India!! I have visited it 4 times but never been to Rishikesh! amazing place.

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  6. My husband's elder brother and sister-in-law used to live in Haridwar, and we have visited both Haridwar and Rishikesh several times. I remember when we first visited Rishikesh, around 1980, there were lots of aging hippies who had gone there in the 60s and never left. It was like stepping into a time warp. But my favourite memories are of the sunset aarti, seeing all the little lighted prayer boats making their way down the swiftly flowing, freezing cold Ganges.

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  7. Wow, this looks so awesome. I would really like to check out a temple like this one day, just gathering ideas for my never-ending bucket list.

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  8. Lovely...you had an amazing experience and the pictures are nice too. They must have beautiful souvenirs in the market as well

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  9. Oh the place looks absolutely amazing & sounds like you had a great time over there :-) that sure is a wonderful experience!

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  10. Such an fantastic places and the right places to filled our soul and with calm and relax. I wish i could visit this place someday. Thanks for sharing.
    Kintan XO,
    http://kintanfashion.blogspot.com

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  11. Wow what a beautiful locations looks so tranquil. Pictures are lovely bet you saw some beautiful sites

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  12. What a fantastic trip, how great you got to participate and i'd love to see the temples irl. x

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  13. What a wonderful place to see and to have time to relax. I would love to have an Ayurveda treatment. So many beautiful pictures!

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  14. I have been enjoying reading about your trip to India. We only had a few hours in Rishikesh so not been further to the Neelkanth temple. The aarti in Rishikesh sounds good too. Your pictures showing the views to the temple are amazing. I love your new blog look too.

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  15. Wow, I haven't heard about this place yet and truly, India has never run out of wonderful place to visit and discover. I love ambling around the Rishikesh and also if given a chance I like to try the river rafting and will surely do trekking as well. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

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  16. That temple is amazing Nayna. It looks like you saw some fantastic sites. I'm just jolly glad those bridges are now steel not rope - I shudder to think about it!

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  17. A lovely write up of what must have been a wonderful trip. very evocative photography too

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  18. This location is so exotic, this is the first time I am hearing about it. Great to be learning about these places I probably will never visit in my lifetime. Thank you for sharing about the sights and the culture.

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  19. It looks like it was an amazing trip. I do love all of the beautiful pictures here and I can see why the temple would have been your favorite place on the whole trip. It's always interesting to hear stories about what people believe.

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  20. Looks wonderful and you visited some truly amazing places Nanya! Karen

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  21. I remember very little of my trip to Rishikesh when I was young. However, we have crossed the river on those unstable rope bridges, taken part in the evening aarti and the river was freezing cold. These are places I'd like to visit again.

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  22. You seem to have visited many places in India..Lovely review of the Rishikesh.

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  23. A very interesting place to visit. I like places with rich in culture and historical.

    I'll add this to my travel wishlist.

    Thanks!

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  24. Rishikesh looks like such a wonderful place to visit. It was fun to see all of the beautiful photos and the temple! My goodness .. I can see why it was one of your favorite places on the entire trip. Wherever we go we too love to hear stories about people's lives and what they believe

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  25. There seems to be several adventurous activities to do here. How are the prices of goods and souvenir items in the tourist markets? Which one do you most recommend for shoppers?

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  26. Wow what a beautiful place!

    http://paigemargaretblog.blogspot.co.nz

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  27. What an amazing trip and wonderful photographs! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I would love to visit that colourful temple and of course, The River Ganges x

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  28. I haven't been to Rishikesh yet, actually none of Chardham! But its on my wishlist! Esp seeing the deep arathi in the banks of river Ganges is just awesome! Hope to go soon.

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  29. Rishikesh has really a lot of scenic and heritage spots. It would be a really amazing place to visit.

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  30. What an incredible trip. Thanks so much for showing a different aspect to India that I have not seen before. What a shame that you didn't have more time in the temple to reflect on your prayers.

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  31. Waters and Rivers bring calmness, a perfect place for a yoga retreat. Looking through travel blogs, I start to get envy. I feel like I should travel too and share beautiful places.

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  32. I remember visiting Rishikesh as a child with my grandma. I was in awe of the place. It was so peaceful and calm and attending the Ganga Aarti would always give me goosebumps.

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  33. As they call it as Incredible India. I have been to Rishikesh and it is such an important heritage.

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  34. Wow, your post really covers every important aspect a traveller needs to know about Rishikesh! It was especially interesting to hear about the religious history of the place. For a German like me it is always very fascinating to learn about that. Thanks!

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  35. I've never been to India but it looks so colorful. I would love to visit someday and these pictures only made it go higher on my bucket list. Great post!

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  36. The Neelkanth Mahadev Temple sounds magical with people chanting in the queue. The outside colours are stunning!

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  37. Looks like you had a great time and Rishikesh is a nice place to visit. Thanks for sharing (:

    Ashlee | ashleemoyo.com

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  38. Really interesting post! I had never heard of a lot of these places before but this was a super informative read thanks!! My mom lived in India when she was a young girl and I have always had an urge to visit! Maybe one day :)

    Eryn, Diaries From The Window Seat
    https://www.diariesfromthewindowseat.com/

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  39. ive not heard of rishikesh before but it looks like a place i would love to visit! its amazing that you got to partake in the aarti

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  40. Rishikesh looks like such a peaceful place to visit! It looks like you were able to experience some wonderful traditions as well as modern activities, and your photos tell a great story. Thanks for sharing!

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  41. What a fascinating place! Watching an aarti must be special. I"m down for some ayurvedic treatments! I went to India but missed this place. More excused to go back!

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  42. Your post brought a lot of nostalgia from long long ago. I visited Rishikesh as a kid with my family and extended family . I remember the lakshman jhoola the most. And standing by the river Ganga.

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  43. I would definitely do some of the adventure activities you highlighted near the temple. That sounds great. Thanks for sharing.

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  44. Great photos, this sounds like a fabulous trip! xo

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  45. What an amazing trip, this is somewhere that I would love to visit. Thanks for sharing it with us, I enjoyed reading this post and seeing your lovely photos.

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  46. Beautiful post, loved that you included the history and origin stories as well, that made it a lot more interesting. Can't wait to see it for myself, someday.

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  47. the aarti sounds like a beautiful thing to be a part of! What a beautiful place

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  48. Rishikesh is such a beautiful place to visit, I am lucky I visited this place when I was about 10 yrs old.

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