Rishikesh, also spelt as Hrishikesh is a town in Uttarakhand, famous as a centre for pilgrims. Pilgrims start their Char Dham pilgrimage to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.from Rishikesh. Another holy town, Haridwar is located around 25 kms away. The town is so named after the holy name of Lord Vishnu who appeared after ‘Rabya Rishi’ did severe penances. The name ‘Rishikesh’ in Sanskrit literally means, ‘he who has conquered his senses.’
Mythologically, Rishikesh has been a part of the legendary ‘Kedarkhand’, today Garhwal, which was the abode of Shiva. Lord Rama is believed to have done penance here for killing Ravana, and Laxman, his younger brother crossed the river Ganga. It is at this point of crossing where the present ‘Laxman Jhula’ bridge stands. There are temples dedicated to Lord Rama, Laxman and even Bharata. While traveling through Haridwar to Rishikesh, one has to pass through the Rama Jhula, also known as ‘Shivanand Jhula’. The present day bridge is built aesthetically and it is special as it moves with the slightest breeze. A cluster of ashrams are located near the jhula. The most famous ones being Swargashram and the Shivanand.
Quite populated by tourists from all over the country as well as those from abroad, Rishikesh is also known as the ‘World Capital of Yoga’. Meditating in this place, it is believed, brings one closer to attaining ‘moksha’. The town is also becoming a popular spot for white water rafting enthusiasts, as it offers medium to rough rapids in the course of river Ganges.
Various spots in and around Rishikesh are: Triveni Ghat - A bathing Ghat which resounds with the ‘Arti’ performed every evening to river Ganga. Some well-known temples in Rishikesh are Raghunath Temple, Pushkar Temple, Venkateshwar Temple, Chandra Mauleshwaran Temple, Shatrughan Temple, Bharat Mandir and Lakshman Temple. Known for its yoga centres and ashrams, some of the most prominent ones are Shivanand Ashram, Muni Ki Reti, Mahesh Yogi Ashram, Shankaracharya Nagar, Swarg Ashram, Gita Bhawan, Ved Niketan and Yoga Study Centre.
Rishikesh is also home to the 120-year old Kailas Ashram Brahmavidyapeetham, which is an institution established to preserve and promote Vedantic Studies. Well known personalities such as Swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Shivananda have studied in this institution.