I have been planning a backpacking trip to Rishikesh for so long now and so decided to write about it, nothing could make me happier. Having been to Rishikesh several times before because my grandfather resides by the gorgeous river Ganga but never solo. I cannot get enough of it, So let’s dig into the article together and plan a backpacking trip to this riverside destination.
Rishikesh is an important holy pilgrimage site for Hindus, the yoga capital, and an adventurer’s paradise which is why it is a place one needs to be at least once in their lifetime. Backpacking in Rishikesh is also for the digital nomads, and peace seekers. A lively city with something or the other happening throughout the day it has so much to offer for everyone. River Ganga flows through Rishikesh which has a lot of religious importance. The river also makes opportunities for adventure sports like rafting, cliff jumping, and kayaking.
Backpacking in Rishikesh is not only popular among Indians but also well known internationally. As a result, Rishikesh got internationally popular in the 1960s when the Beatles came and resided, in search of spirituality, which is why people from all over the world come here, for the spiritual and adventure this place provides and also for learning yoga. You will find people from across the world, and staycations in such places bring up a lot of networking opportunities.
Where Is Rishikesh Located?
Rishikesh is a small town located in Uttrakhand in northern India. A lot of treks and backpacking trips begin from Rishikesh. The infamous char Dham yatra to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri starts from here. It is popularly known as “Gateway To Garhwal Himalayas”
Rishikesh is located 250 km from the national capital, 25km from Dehradun which is the capital city of Uttarakhand. Rishikesh is located at a 40 min drive from the closest railway station in Haridwar. From the above locations, Rishikesh is highly accessible and can be visited using various modes of transport.
Mythology Importance Of Rishikesh
Popularly known as the twin heritage cities of India are Rishikesh and Haridwar, they are two of the most important holy pilgrimage sites of Hindus. It has a lot of mythological stories attached to it.
A sage by the Raibhya performed a strict penance on the banks of the river Ganges. Lord Vishnu visited him in his avatar as “Hrishikesh”. He was very impressed by his devotion.
Lord Rama indulged in deep meditation because he obliterate Ravana. Lord Lakshman crossed the river using a jute rope. which was built into an iron suspension bridge in 1889, called the ‘Lakshman Jhula’ followed by another suspension bridge being built in 1986, under the name Ram Jhoola.
Rishikesh is the place where the holy river the Ganges, ends its journey through the Shivalik ranges, and from Haridwar starts flowing through the northern plains. Goddess Ganga, inform river flows through these plains which is responsible for a lot of agricultural lands. The river is a symbol of purity and forgiveness. You will often find devotees taking a dip into the river as it is believed that she washes away all your sins, and makes you pure as her.
There are a lot of temples established by Adi Shankaracharya, most of them being very ancient. These temples have been there for hundreds of years, and this town is often believed to be a symbol of purity. This is why nonvegetarian is strictly prohibited in these twin cities. Haridwar, which literally translated to ‘Hari’ and ‘Dwar’, meaning the gateway to heaven. This is where the Ganges lands on the northern plains.
How To Reach
One of the best things about this destination is its ease to reach. There are plenty of options available and it’s not a huge task to find transportation. I have mentioned a few easy options below:
- Via Dehradun: the closest airport to Rishikesh is located in Dehradun, the state capital. It is just 25km from Rishikesh and you can get flights directly to the airport, followed by a cab ride to Rishikesh.
- Via Delhi: Due to the airport being a smaller one, the flights are not usually the cheapest. You can fly to Delhi airport and then travel to Rishikesh by road, using a bus, a private cab, or your own vehicle, as per convenience. Delhi is 250 km from Rishikesh.
- Via Haridwar: Haridwar railway station is the closest railway station from Rishikesh. There are plenty of trains available to Haridwar. One can take a train and then can take a Tuktuk or a bus to Rishikesh, it takes around 40 minutes to reach our destination.
Best Time To Visit Rishikesh
Due to its breezy weather, it is ideal to visit Rishikesh throughout the year. However, I would not advise you to visit in the months of May to September, during the summer and monsoon seasons. Rishikesh has hot and humid weather and heavy rainfalls in the monsoon. Rafting and other water sports are closed during these months. If you wish to visit then, you great deals on accommodations, but adventure activities are mostly all closed during those months.
The best time to visit Rishikesh is during the months of February to April and mid-September to mid-November. The weather is pleasant during these months, neither too cold nor too hot. You can enjoy all the various experiences this one travel destination provides.
Backpacking Hostels And Hotels In Rishikesh
Rishikesh attracts backpackers from all across the world. People finding their way to this spiritual town, have lots of options to choose from. There are great hostels, famous hostel chains, homestays, ashrams, and hotels to stay in. most of them are located in the heart of Rishikesh in Tapovan.
Some great backpacker hostels you can check out in Rishikesh are:
- Gostops Rishikesh
- Blue Jay hostel
- Shalom Backpackers Rishikesh
- Zostel Rishikesh
- The Hosteller Rishikesh
- Moustache Rishikesh
- Bunk Stay Hostel
- Shiv shakti hostel
All these hostels are among the top-rated hostels, and you can book them from websites like booking.com and hostelworld.com. There are so many other hostels you can choose from apart from these which are equally nice, with great views, vibe, and facilities.
There are some great mid-budgeted hotels and resorts you can stay at with your family, or partners if you wish to stay. But what is most important about accommodation is to find something close to Lakshman Jhoola or in Tapovan.
Things To Do In Rishikesh
Rishikesh holds a lot of titles which makes it a perfect travel destination for all kinds of people. The adventure capital, yoga capital, and the spiritual capital of the country, it is the only place on earth known for all of these things altogether. Rishikesh has so many ashrams, yoga centers, and symbolic Laksham Jhoolas that you can visit. The ghats built on the river banks are a perfect place to watch the sunrise from, making Backpacking in Rishikesh the best trip of your life.
Rishikesh has a lot of adventure sports to try. You can cover half the adventure sports in India, just in this one-stop destination. From white water rafting to bungee jumping this place has it all. Rishikesh has a lot of fo waterfalls and trekking trails for you to explore too. A true adventure lover’s paradise, one should visit this magical town at least once.
People often come here for peace and meditation. With lots of gurus and huge ashrams for you to learn yoga, you can visit them any time of the year and come out mentally and physically much stronger than how to go.
Places To Visit In Rishikesh
Rishikesh is a holy pilgrimage site for Hindus, there are plenty of ancient temples in this city, with great architecture. The positive vibe of these gorgeous temples is something that attracts most tourists. Take a temple tour, most of them are located within walking distance and you can cover all of them in a day, and there are so many temples at all corners of the town.
A few main ones that you definitely should visit:
- Kunjapuri Temple: One of the most visited temples, is this beautiful Kunjapuri Temple. It has gorgeous views, and people usually go there to enjoy the sunrise. It is the goddess Durga’s temple. Lord shiva’s first wife Sati’s corpse landed here, making it very sacred. The temple is located 25 km from the main town of Rishikesh, in the mountains overlooking the panoramic views of the Tehri Garhwal ranges.
- Trayambhakeshwar: This is a 13-storey temple dedicated to multiple gods and goddesses. If you happen to each the top floor, you will find yourself looking at the most gorgeous views of the whole town and majestic sunsets in the hills.
- Neelkanth Mahadev Temple: This temple is located at 5500ft and gives magical views of mountains. It is of a lot of importance, as this temple is dedicated to lord shiva, you are one of three main gods according to Hindu mythology.
- Geeta Bhawan: one of the ancient temples, It has the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata carved on its walls. They have Sathsungs and prayers which are so divine. They also perform the famous Ganga aarti which they perform on the banks of the river, it is gorgeous! Geeta Bhawan also has an ashram where you stay.
Ashrams and yoga centers
Rishikesh is the best place in the world for learning or practicing yoga and meditation. while backpacking through Rishikesh, Yoga is something you have to try in case you have never done it, or do it regularly. There are plenty of ashrams and yoga centers for you to check out. Rishikesh is also famous for the international yoga festival that is conducted there. Rishikesh is famous for its yoga centers all around the world. A few well-known ones are:
- Parmarth Niketan
- Phool Chatti Ashram
- Anand Prakash Ashram
- Omkarananda Ganga Sadan
- Yoga Niketan
- Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama Ashram
- Swami Dayananda Saraswati Ashram
- Sivananda Ashram
- Himalayan Yog Ashram
There are plenty of waterfalls in the Garhwal region, located at small drives from the main city. You can reach them following small trails. A few must-visit ones are:
- Neergarh waterfalls: they are located on Badrinath highway and you have to trek for a bit to reach 3 waterfalls. There are small tea stalls where you have small bites and have a nice bath in a clean river body.
- Garud Chatti Waterfalls: a perfect picnic spot is located just 4km from Lakshman Jhoola. The 1.5 km trail goes through lush green forests with a stream flowing by the side.
- Patna waterfall: it is named after a small village located 6.5km away from Rishikesh called Patna village. The trail is absolutely beautiful. The falls are high in altitude and the water is deep too, making it perfect to jump into the water.
One of the most majestic views is of the infamous Ganga aarti. During the sunsets and sunrise, there are huge Ganga aartis held on the ghats, especially Triveni made on the banks of the river. There are plenty of priests performing the pooja with a lot of Diyas lit up chanting prayers and sounds of the bells. It is such a positive vibe, with a lot of warmth. It is truly enchanting!
Ram Jhoola and lakshman Jhoola
Lakshman Jhoola and Ram Jhoola are some of the most famous features of the town. Lord Lakshman crossed the river using a jute rope.. on the same location the government constructed the current iron suspension bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1889. Ram Jhoola was constructed in 1986.
The Beatles, one of the most renowned music bands of the world, visited Rishikesh in the 1960s to learn yoga from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his ashram. The spirituality and warmth of this town inspired them to come with “An inspiration driven from such a divine town cannot go sure, and one can only understand why did such a famous band choose this town.
The white album, by The Beatles, went on to become the third-highest album in history, selling more than 24 million copies. Isn’t that insane!
Now the ashram isn’t in use, it is a visiting tourist spot and costs 600 rupees for a foreigner to visit. You can also make your way through the forests and visit for free! You can easily sneak in! *hush hush*
Adventure Sports To Try While Backpacking Around Rishikesh
Rishikesh also goes by the name, Adventure Capital of India. It has a lot of different adventure activities to try. Very well known for white water rafting in the river Ganga, it is on the foothills of Garhwal Himalayas. with the deep waters of river Ganga flowing through the tall cliffs, there are experiences like cliff jumping, rock climbing, rappelling, river crossing, kayaking, and flying fox for people with an adventurous bone. You can also go on small trails and treks starting from Rishikesh taking you through lush green forests.
There are plenty of adventure travel companies. You can get in contact and book packages with them. When backpacking in Rishikesh, you are exposed to the best activities and experiences Even if you decide to go unplanned you can book these sports activities there and take this once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity. Trust just writing about it makes me so excited and thrilled!
I have mentioned a list of a few agencies to book your adventure tour:
- Adventure Nation
- Red Chilli Adventure
- White World Expeditions
- Jumpin Heights
- Snow Leopard Adventures
- Ganga Valley Adventure
- Aquaterra Adventures
- Outbound Adventure
- Mercury Himalayan Explorations
- Himalayan River Runners
Source: travelescape. in
White Water Rafting:
Rishikesh is one of the most renowned destinations for white water rafting in India. There are plenty of companies and campsites which you can opt to experience. Five grades are ranging from very easy to tough and you can choose according to your capability and excitement to do it. The prices differ for every grade and course mentioned below. The prices are very less as compared to other places where you can try rafting.
- 9km from Brahmapuri to Nim beach
- 16km from Shivpuri to Nim beach,
- 25km from Marine Drive to Nim beach
- 35km from Kodiyala to Nim beach
Camping near the river Ganges in the foothills of the Himalayas can be termed romantic and adventurous both at once. There are plenty of camping zones in Rishikesh where the water flow is not much and you can pitch your tents book with a camping agency to spend a few peaceful days by the river. Camping sites are a fun alternative for people staying hostels, or are on a backpacking trip to Rishikesh, as you can literally sit by the river, with the most organic backgrounds and work while booking up for all the adventures.
If you choose to book with a camping agency, they include campsites, with different adventurous activities like rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping, sightseeing tours and so much more.
If you wish to camp alone, check out Camp River Zone.
Jungle Safari At Rajaji National Park
The foothill town of Rishikesh is surrounded by lush green forests, housing some of the wildest species of animals and birds. If you are lucky you can also spot tigers too. You can book your safaris online or offline from various agencies that provide these.
Treks Beginning From Rishikesh
Rishikesh is a base camp for a lot of short and long treks based in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
- Chopta Tungnath
2. Char Dhaam Yatra(badrinath, kedarnath, gangotri and yamunotri)
3. Dayara Bugyal trek
4. Chandrashila trek
5. Roopkund trek
There are various trekking organizing agencies like India hikes, who organize treks to these locations.
Parasailing And Paragliding
You can fly into the air like birds and get the best views of the mighty mountains and the spiritual town. Gods have truly blessed this city, with the best possible experiences. Because of all the lovely adventures, the city can be said to have the most thrilling extreme sports activities in India hence putting the phrase ‘Adventure Capital’ to use.
Book with hawkfly.com
Best Cafes And Restaurants To Try In Rishikesh
There are plenty of cafes and local eateries you can try. Most of them have great river views. An important thing to note when you visit Rishikesh is that it’s a holy town of Hindus. In Hindus, non-vegetarian food is strictly prohibited and thereby consuming meat and alcohol are banned in the whole town. You will find only purely vegetarian places to eat. Which is not so bad after all!
There are a bunch of very cool cafes that you must visit, for the ambiance as well as food! You can find most of them in the areas near Lakshman jhula and some ram. They serve all kinds of cuisines, national and international.
- Little buddha cafe
- Beatles cafe
- Royal cafe
- Free spirit cafe
- Pumplenickery bakery
- Ramana’s organic garden cafe
There are plenty of “Bhojanalyas” associated with ashrams and temples in Rishikesh. They serve very healthy and fresh Indian food. The temples serve prasad(offering) to god and then distributed to the devotees. The food at these Bhojanalays is so delicious. If you’re traveling from outside the country or even within, you definitely must try!
How Many Days Should You Stay In Rishikesh
With the best of hostels and facilities in the town of Rishikesh, you can plan a trip ranging from a 3-day visit to even months of stays. It is an ideal location for a weekend getaway and also equally perfect for a staycation. Working as a digital nomad from the hostel, and practicing spirituality and yoga, it is perfect for backpackers, adventurers, family vacations, and college trips too.
While backpacking in Rishikesh for longer durations, you can actually cover a lot of it easily, you can totally ride in for an unplanned trip and then plan accordingly once you reach there. while staycations it is just easier, as you can keep simulataneously planning depending upon your schedules and meetings.
Places you can visit around Rishikesh
There are a lot of places around Rishikesh which you can visit while traveling to Rishikesh. You can either go various multi-day treks which start from Rishikesh and Dehradun or go to hill stations like Mussoorie, Dharamshala, Dharam Kot. You can explore the Garhwal Himalayas, Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and also cities like Haridwar, Varanasi, Delhi, Jaipur, etc.
Rishikesh is close to lots of prime locations, and while backpacking you should either cover all the mountain ranges and Himalayas or cover all the holy heritage cities that are established along the banks of the river Ganges. Both these routes are worth exploring. while one takes you on a journey of becoming one with self, the other helps to connect with nature.
Also Read: Hampta Pass Trek–A Complete Guide
As we come to the end of this blog, it is established that Rishikesh is truly blessed by the gods. With multi titles held by the town, which are truly contrasting from one another, Rishikesh is so diverse with what it has to offer. A town that encourages peace, spirituality, health, and purity along with extreme sports, rush, thrill, and being one with nature, it also blesses us, travelers, with great experiences too.
Set by the banks of the holy Ganga, it is one place in India, that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetimes. For the warmth of Ganga aarti, for the thrill of rafting, for learning some great teachings of life from the most learned gurus.
Having my grandfather based out of Rishikesh going there has a lot of memories and good times! I am thinking of going on a solo backpacking trip to Rishikesh and this time is the time, to experience all the amazing adventures I missed otherwise. I can not wait for it…hope to see you all there, and I hope this travel guide for backpacking in Rishikesh will help you plan your trips.