Looking for a quick, spiritually fulfilling and a mentally cleansing get away from the fast paced city life made worse by scorching sun? The answer lies just 220 km from Delhi, in the lap of Shivalik mountain range and on the banks of sacred Ganges. Rishikesh, in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand is a perfect weekend destination. It seems to have all the bases covered when it comes to give you a break from the mundane routine. River rafting, trekking, yoga, spa, shopping and food, there is almost everything one needs.
Being on the banks of Ganga as it leaves the mountains and enters the northern Indian planes, the Ganga here is fast flowing and thankfully, quite clean. Thus, one of the most popular indulgence here is rafting on the blue green water of the Ganga. Off course Rishikesh is known as the Yoga capital of the world and one round of the town confirms it. There are numerous yoga schools here located in every nook and corner or occupying pride of places along the banks of the Ganga.
Another activity people love to get involved in is the evening arti that takes place at several spots on the river bank. The most popular is the arti at Parmarth Niketan (Swargahram). But over the years, this arti has become too loud, glitzy, commercial, tacky and crowded. Better option would be to attend other smaller arti taking place elsewhere on the river banks. If you are looking for more spectacular options, then the arti at triveni ghat would be the one for you.
Another highlight of Rishikesh is crossing Ganges over the iconic suspension bridges, Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula. However, the Laxman Jhula is closed for now for some restoration work but there is a new suspension bridge by the name 'Janki Setu' built near Swarg Ashram, which gives a beautiful view of the river.
As Rishikesh draws Indian pilgrims from many states and many foreign (western) spirituality seekers, the town offers a huge variety of food. North Indian, Gujrati, South Indian, continental, Mediterranean, Italian, Israeli and more variety of food is available here.
The place has many shopping options too from casual clothes, jewellery and other nick knacks. But the best activity is to sit by the ganges and do a long stretch of river watching. It is therapeutic and calming. Try it the next time you go to Rishikesh.