Only twenty-four kilometres from Haridwar is the hermitage town of Rishikesh. Like Haridwar, here too Ganga is the divine mother and the sages are the divine messengers, while up in the Himalayas, the Gods are sitting on the peaks and the sages are in the traditional caves. Nowhere on earth, is the call of the Gods and sages felt more closely than in Rishikesh. The legend of ancient Uttarakhand begins at Haridwar and is further accentuated here at Rishikesh. In ancient times, Rishikesh was a centre of meditation for sages and ascetics; today too it is so but with the difference that now the sages are sitting in ashrams and religious institutions.
Rishikesh lies at the junction of three districts of Garhwal Division. The greater part of the city consisting of the bazars and offices lies on the right bank of the river Ganga and is in Dehradun district. The second part called Muni-ki-Reti is in Tehri district and religious institutions like Swami Shivanand Ashram, Bhajanashram and Kailash Ashram are located in this area. The third part called Swaragashram is on the left bank of the Ganga and lies in Pauri district. Gita Bhawan, Parmarth Ashram and Maharshi Mahesh Yogi Ashram are located here. The well-known Laxman Jhula and the new Ram Jhula, constructed in 1986 near Shivanand Ashram, connect these areas.
Rishikesh is full of ashrams and dharamshalas. The famous Kalikamli Wale has its headquarters here. Kalikamli, by constructing a chain of Dharamshalas during the early difficult days of travel, had done pioneering service in promoting yatra to Uttarakhand. Life in Rishikesh pulsates with spiritual vibrations. The huge majestic ashrams on the slopes of the foothills are the modern meditating centres. Founded in 1936, Swami Shivanand Ashram is the headquarters of the internationally renowned Divine Life Society. The transcendental meditation centre of Maharshi Mahesh Yogi is known for the famous 84 caves constructed with modern architectural perfection and provided with all necessary comforts. Of late the ashram looks abandoned for reasons not known.
Rishikesh is full of trusted saints and ascetics as well as amateur seekers from all parts of the world. Some live here permanently and some keep visiting whenever they feel the urge for mental peace and expiation.
Rishikesh from ancient times, continues to be the centre for meditation. Spiritualism through the ages has taken deep roots here and what has changed in keeping with the times is the style of attainment. The ancient caves have been replaced by luxurious palatial ashrams having all the necessary comforts of modern living. But the ultimate purpose of these modern ashrams remain unchanged; ie, to promote “ Moksha” through meditation or “Dhyan”.
Ashrams are usually charitable institutions and readily accept donations for their running and maintenance.
The places of interest in Rishikesh are the ghats, Bharat Mandir, Swargashram etc. The antibiotic factory is located in Birbhadra. It is said that the location of this factory in Rishikesh was selected to take advantage of the medicinal properties of the water of Ganga. It is however difficult to comment upon the authenticity of this view as the factory is now down sized if not closed.
Other Places of Interest
(Distances are from Bus Stop )
Arti The twin towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh share some of the greatest traditions. Like the grand Arti at Har Ki Paori in Haridwar, a similar Arti is offered to Ganga Maiya on the Triveni ghats and the ghats of Parmarth Niketan, located in the Swargashram sector of Rishikesh. Each evening hundreds of devotees assemble to witness the Arti.
Lakshman Jhula (7km) In 1939 a suspension bridge was built over the Ganga. This 450 ft long bridge made of steel ropes is the lifeline between Muni Ki Reti and Swargashram.
Ram Jhula (4km) A suspension bridge constructed during the Kumbh mela of 1986 connects Muni ki Reti to Swargashram. With construction of this bridge, pressure on Laxman Jhula has reduced.
Triveni Ghat This is the most important ghat of Rishikesh. Mornings and evenings, hundreds of pilgrims throng the ghats for prayers. Nearby is the much adored Rishi Kund. For the evening artis, Triveni ghat is popular here the way Har Ki Paori is in Haridwar.
Raghunath Temple : The temple is dedicated to Lord Ram and is located very close to Triveni ghat.
Lakshman Temple (6 km) Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Ram, is said to have done penance here.
Bharat Temple (2 km) An ancient temple dedicated to Bharat and located in the centre of Rishikesh.
Shatrughan Temple (5 km) An ancient temple dedicated to Shatrughan.
Pushkar Temple 2 km. This temple is not as ancient as others.
Neelkanth Mahadev (30 km) A famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located at the top of the Swargashram hill feature. To reach it one can choose between a circuitous motor road of about 30 kms or a trek of about 8 km on foot.
ISKCON ( 5 Km) The International Society for Krishna Consciousness temple, popularly known as Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple draws large crowds every day.
Swami Shivanand Ashram, Geeta Bhawan, Swargashram, Parmarth Niketan, Bhajanashram, Kailash Ashram and many more.
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