As a backpacker one of my desire is to explore each and every corner of Mighty Himalayas in North India. I went through many regions in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and this process is still going on. When I was there in Ludhiana, I decided a trip to Gangotri or Badrinath. An evening, I boarded a bus to Dehradun. I reached there by 1.30 AM after the mid-night and stayed at my friend’s room in Subhash Nagar near Bus Terminus. Dehradun is just like another home for me, where I always want to live. I asked some of my friends to join me on a trip to Gangotri or Badrinath, but everyone was busy with their schedule.
I left Dehradun alone on early morning at 4.30 AM to Rishikesh. I took a bus to Haridwar from ISBT, but on the way I came to know, besides going to Rishikesh via Haridwar, I can reach there directly from Dehradun via Jolly Grant Airport. So, I left my bus in between and took another bus to Rishikesh. It saved another 40 kms journey. The bus reached at Rishikesh bus stand around 6.00 AM. The people there informed me that Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, Kedarnath; all temples are closed now a days in the month of March. So, they suggest me not to go there these days. They suggested me to go to Auli via Joshimath.I dropped the idea to go any of char dhams and decided to roam nearby in Rishikesh and Haridwar. I went a nearby Ghat in Rishikesh. It is a hardly 1 km walk from bus stand. I don’t know the exact name of the ghat, but I think its name was Triveni Ghat. It was the early morning, so there were very few people walking on the ghat along the river, some old people were practicing Yoga, and some sanyasis are just roaming from here to there.
It was a beautiful morning on the bank of Ganges; I could felt the gentle breeze cooling my body and enlightening my soul while walking along the river. After spending half an hour at the ghat, I came back on the main road and took an auto to Ram Jhoola. Ram Jhoola is a hanging bridge on the Ganges and one of the prominent landmark of Rishikesh.
You can spend multiple hours on the bank of the Ganges in Rishikesh, just wandering on the ghats. It is a place to feel the religious spirits of India. People are lost in themselves only, taking baths, performing yoga, busy in morning walks. There are lot of monks who roam on the ghats without any tension. You can see them openly smoking with their Chilum and Ganja. They don’t bother about the world. They are just enjoying their life. And there is one interesting thing too; none of the Sadhus (Monks) there at the ghat asked me the money. Nobody is there to trouble you like The Pandas in Varanasi. You can freely roam on the ghats. Though there was some women roaming around and asking money in the name of Shani Dev, as it was Saturday.
After Ram Jhoola, I moved to Lakshman Jhoola. It is about 2 kms from Ram Jhoola. You can take a jeep service on seat sharing basis from Ram Jhoola to Lakshman Jhoola though I preferred to walk. There is lot of Ashrams in the streets of Rishikesh. People from all around the world use to visit these Ashrams in search of peace and inner happiness. You can see a lot of foreigners wandering in the streets of Rishikesh. These ashrams offer lots of Yoga and Meditation courses, from one week to yearlong certification courses.
Lakshman Jhoola is just a similar version of Ram Jhoola in architecture. There are two beautiful magnificent temples maintained by Kailashanand Trust on one side of the bridge. Near to the temple, there is a restaurant named “Ganga View”. It’s a good restaurant in my opinion, cheaper also. On the other side of the bridge, there is a coffee shop named as “Devraj Coffee Corner and German Bakery and Restaurant”. Lots of foreigners were enjoying the river-side with a cup of coffee at that shop.
Boating facility is also available near both the bridges at a nominal cost, Rs.10 for one way trip and Rs. 15 for round trip. A nearby Lakshman Temple is also good to visit.
Besides Yoga and Meditation, Rishikesh is also famous for the adventure sports, especially river-rafting. I didn’t have the time, but if you have, enjoy the rafting. You can easily find travel agents offering rafting courses in the city.
Rishikesh is considered among the most religious places to visit in India. Along-with Haridwar, this town serve as a gateway to the Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand as well as the gateway to many natural and scenic places in Uttarakhand. It is well connected by road to the major cities of North India. It is just 20 kms from Haridwar and 45 kms from Dehradun. The Jolly Grant Airport of Dehradun is just 20 kms away. It is approx. 232 kms away from Delhi and lot of overnight buses as well as trains are available from Delhi to Rishikesh at regular intervals. Tehri Lake (Read here:Tehri Lake: Memories from Old Tehri ) is a very beautiful place and just 75 kms from Rishikesh. If you have time, do visit this man-made lake and see how an entire town was submerged under the water for the sake of a development project.