If you would find yourself one bright Sunday morning footloose and fancy free in Rishikesh—by the holy river, soaking in old world charms of a quaint temple town, of adventure in the hidden nooks of river cliffs and forests deep, a day full of exhilarating perils and overcoming prayers—Rishikesh really sets one’s imaginations running! And it’s a doable dream at that too, whether you are tripping solo or with a merry bunch of partners-in-crime.
This exceptional destination blending piety with adventure and daring is accessible within only an eight-hour ride from Delhi, the national capital. Have a blast with the myriad attractions here. There are so many things to do in Rishikesh, and here are just a few of them.
The river Ganga flows down from its glacial highs, entering the plains at the very juncture of Rishikesh. Innumerable rapids line the descent, making for a bumpy ride down. It’s an incomparable thrill to be tossing and turning on the crazy currents, to be completely in the grips of the river’s force as you sail on a rubber boat.
Life-jacketed and under the supervision of a master rafter, you will be in for a heart-thumping ride, all but safely. Summers are the best time and also the first-part of monsoon when the river is wilder.
Bungee, Flying Fox, and Giant Swing
Rishikesh features some out of the world spots where adventure gets real with a sweep down the slopes. Hike up the risqué as you jump cliffs and free fall in bungee, or glide across the valley on a harness in Flying Fox and the Swing.
It is a veritable play of the extremes that lets you experience cutthroat speed, an acrophobic high, and the overwhelming pull of gravity. In those split minutes of living the thrill, the mind kind of snaps out of its daze and happens to see life as it is. There’s only you, a blue sky above and the earth underneath.
While facing your fear is the biggest game, don’t be rash to compromise safety when you take up the challenge. You need to meet a certain level of fitness criteria to indulge in these daredevil activities.
Yoga Ab Initio
Yoga is not everybody’s fancy but to be, battling day in and day out in an atmosphere of non-compassion of modern lifestyle, it is safe to say that this generation is in need of the meditative grace of yoga. And where but in the World Capital of Yoga will you find better coaches to guide you on the path of peace?
Depending on your days of stay, choose weekly yoga-meditation retreats or drop-in classes on the hourly basis at some of the best-reviewed schools in the yoga city.
Open up to the pleasant vibes of the universe, slow down your mind’s chatter, and enter a domain of peace with meditation. Make fitness and bliss all yours, exploring the many styles and tones of yoga lessons offered here. You will find a number of classes and courses combining Hatha and Ashtanga here, as well as the more esoteric Tantra Yoga, Kundalini, or Yin.
Yoga in Rishikesh happens to be a far cry from yoga in any other part of the world. The courses are more involved with philosophical studies and a whole range of lifestyle choices suitable to the discipline, the best festivals bringing yoga luminaries from the world over happen in this town, and then there are the magnetic good vibes of the holy location itself.
Entering the yoga culture of Rishikesh also brings a tribe of wonderful people into one’s life, the very reason why you just might be interested to give Yoga Teacher Training courses offered here as a nouveau career option too perhaps.
The Soul-stirring Ganga Aarti
One avenue in the yoga way of life is the bhakti marga or devotion, the manifestations of which you will find plenty in this old temple town. The most gorgeous of this is the Ganga Aarti ritual observed every evening along the ghats of the holy river.
Light bearing worshippers chant the river goddess’ hymns as the sun sinks into the waters, setting the sky ablaze. The deep sonorous tune creates a trance-like state for those who listen, thus making Rishikesh an experience, more than anything, that of the spirit.
The vision too is resplendent. You are going to have a gala time at the aarti if photographic documentation is your kind of thing.
Gateway Into the Mountain Terrain
Mountain lovers know no other way to enter the hallowed terrains of the Garhwal Himalayas than through Rishikesh. Adding a few more days to your Rishikesh weekender, you can make a trek in the snowlines happen.
You will come across exclusive trekking and adventure facilitators in Rishikesh who can set you up with a group going to the mountain highs. There are peak climbs as achievable as the Nag Tibba, only 9,914 feet high in the vicinity of Rishikesh. Come winter, even parts of the mountains as low as this, turns into a winter wonderland, blanketed with a never-ending snow.
Soak in Ayurvedic Goodness
A sister science to yoga, birthed from the same yoke of Vedic holistic wisdom, Ayurveda is an ancient healing system that depends upon herbalized oils, spa and massage with nature’s extracts, and side-effect free organic drugs.
You are going to find amazing places to wind out and soak in the goodness with these magic potions in Rishikesh. A deep-tissue Abhyanga massage and Panchakarma- the five-course detox is recommended for the weary souls.
Jungle Safari in Rajaji National Park
Braced with some luck, you are going to run into some exquisite species of the Himalayan forests in Rajaji National Park. Besides sambar deer, antelope, monkeys, elephant and leopard, you are also going to find a good scope for birding.
Exploring the Bazaar of Lakshman Jhula
Laxman Jhula is a picture perfect hanging bridge over the river width, on both banks of which there are colorful markets to explore. From incense and scented candles exquisites to ethnic and bohemian clothes, and hand woven fabric adorned with fine thread work, this bazaar is a dig for treasures.
Go Café Tripping
The splendid sight of the Ganges is best enjoyed with a cuppa on open decks and good music and Rishikesh has terrific cafes on the river for spending such a quality time. You will never mind coming to Rishikesh solo because a sweet company, great food, and relaxing drinks are never running dry at these cafes.
Also, you can pack in your portable workstation when you come. Sitting out amidst nature, lights, sounds, and colors of this boho town, there is a high chance of creative and productive breakthroughs. And yes, Wi-Fi at these cafes is somewhat reliable.
Camping Nights Under the Stars
What’s a Sunday more memorable than a night of camping out under the stars? Gather your best people and set sail to the riverside. Choose from normal to deluxe tents at a camping trip organizer and get ready for a night of shenanigans.
Some wood fire, barbecue, and song and dance by the river can put the seal of ‘perfect’ on your holiday in Rishikesh.
Author Bio: Manmohan Singh is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He provides yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. He loves writing and reading the books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas. For more information about him visit his website.