Rishikesh, the gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas, has developed into a massive travel hotspot in recent years. The land of sages, known for its calm and serenity, is no longer just the world capital of Yoga, but a large hub of travelers who visit the city from all over the world.
It’s diverse and multicultural. Known as a backpacker’s paradise, there are bountiful things to do in Rishikesh, making it one of the most unique travel destinations in the world.
What we’d like to know is: What do travelers love about Rishikesh? What needs to be considered when planning a tour to Rishikesh? What is more to it than the sacred Ganga River?
Well, it’s a very intriguing trail to follow. Every traveler would respond differently depending on their personal experience. Interesting is the fact that while many people have written a lot about things to do in Rishikesh, they have overlooked the essence and limited it to a mere adventure land. There are places that have hardly been visited and experiences that have been almost missed.
Living in Rishikesh for more than a year and having visited multiple times, my discovery has been a little different.
Let me take you on a virtual tour of this fascinating town and help you find the top 10 things to do in Rishikesh.
1) Meditate in the Vashishtha Cave
One of the most popular things to do in Rishikesh!
Let’s start with one of the most popular things to do in Rishikesh – Meditation. There are a number of meditation classes to choose from, but the pleasure of meditating in a place right where it started is ecstatic in itself.
Vashishtha Cave is an age-old cave where one of the seven great sages Vashishtha meditated. It is mainly active with Yogis in deep meditation. You will be greeted by a host who is a kind old saint. Pick a nice place and let yourself be in this enchanting place. Chances are you could get to speak to some of the sages there.
One of the first things travelers choose is freedom. Freedom to explore and discover. Vashistha Cave is the place to experience it firsthand. Set right beside Ganga and surrounded by Himalayas, it’s picturesque and beautiful.Refresh yourself by taking a dip in the holy river and a short walk after brief meditation.
FYI: As mentioned above, there are many yogis who meditate in the cave. Try not to interrupt or speak to them if they aren’t willing to. Be responsible, don’t throw garbage anywhere inside the cave or near the river.
Location and distance: (17.3 km) from Blue Jay Hostel.
Travel Duration: 30-40 minutes
How To Reach: Hire a scooter or taxi from Rishikesh for the tour.
Cost: 400 INR
Things to carry: A water bottle, a light wind jacket | Clothes to change, light hiking shoes.
Suggested Read: Rent A Scooter In Rishikesh – Top 5 Places You Should Visit
2) Attend Ganga Aarti
A spectacular fire ceremony.
Ganga Aarti is a spectacular fire ceremony that takes place on the banks of the third largest river in the world, the Ganga River at Triveni Ghat, a confluence of three holy rivers the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswathy. It is one of the best known and prominent ritual practices in India.
The belief in performing this ritual every evening is to offer prayers to holy Ganga Maa and to worship its motherhood, the combined history and mythology of which gives Ganga Aarti a unique meaning that is demonstrated in the chants of Vedic hymns performed by artists from all over the world.
Ganga Aarti is attended by hundreds of devotees, travellers, locals and visitors alike. The grand fire ceremony is a breath-taking experience with religious songs and people swaying with the relaxing music that immerses them in the moment of devotion to the divine. It’s a gathering that will help you understand spirituality from a very different standpoint. At the end of the ceremony, you can also experience a prayer dance, join in and make the most of your tour.
End your trip with a local market exploration or a short stop on a small street with stalls serving delicious, sweet, and sour Chaat Papdi and Paani Poori (popular Indian snacks).
Location and distance: Triveni Ghat | 4.5 km from Blue Jay, Tapovan
Travel Duration: 17 min
How To Reach: Take a shared auto-rickshaw from Laxman Jhula auto stand to Rishikesh market. Walk 1km to the left to reach Triveni Ghat. You can also hire an autorickshaw to drop you off at Triveni Ghat,or rent a scooter and use it for a round trip.
Cost: Shared auto – 10 INR to Rishikesh market
Hired auto: 200 INR
Scooter: 500 INR that you can use for from morning 9 till evening 9
Rent a scooter with: Adventure Ride
3) Kunjapuri Temple - Sunrise tour and Downhill Trek
1676 m above sea level and 25 km from Rishikesh.
Known for the history of Sati, a famous Hindu goddess, this temple is one of the 3 Siddha Peeths in the Tehri district of Uttarakhand and the highest point on the Kunjapuri slope, 1676 m above sea level and 25 km from Rishikesh.
This beautiful hilltop temple is surrounded by the scintillating Himalayas and popular snow-capped peaks such as Swarga Rohini, Gangotri, Bandarpunch and Chaukhamba.
An incomparable place to see the clear and bright sunrise.
While visiting the temple and praying for some time, watching the sunrise, or meditating, you should not miss a downhill trek from the temple along nature, traditional Himalayan houses, small villages, and steep trails.
Start a 13 km trek from the temple to Rishikesh city, which covers the Neer Gaddu waterfall. Find your way through the rugged roads and forests, revel in the thrilling experience and reach the waterfall 8 km after your trek. Swim in the waterfall, take a moment to enjoy the surroundings, and then continue for 5 more kilometers to reach Rishikesh.
Note: Although this is a relatively short hike, it is advisable to do it with a trained guide or a recognized travel company as you would be going through dense forests. They know the region well and can help you navigate safely.
Location and distance: Kunjapuri Village, 27 km from Blue Jay, Tapovan
Travel Duration: 55 min
How to reach: A scooter can be rented for 2 people. A taxi can be rented on a shared basis, a smaller one for 4 people and a larger one for a maximum of 7 people.
Wear comfortable clothes and footwear
Carry a Towel
Clothes to change
Something to keep you warm
Cost: Scooter – 500 INR
Taxi ( 7 people ) – 1500 INR
4) Practice Yoga
One of the best things to experience in Rishikesh.
Contrary to popular belief that yoga is a complex practice and can only be practiced by certain people, regardless of your background, a yoga session is one of the best things anyone can experience in Rishikesh.
It is not important to pay a large sum of money to take an expensive yoga class. You can choose from some really affordable beginner classes, such as those offered at the Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram, or just take a yoga mat to practice near Ganga. You can choose a nice quiet ghat (steps on the bank of the river) and start with some basic breathing exercises and feel the eccentricity of practicing yoga in Rishikesh.
Fresh air, calming rustling of the river and chirping birds – it is a unique time to absorb the energy and spread positivity.
Popular Drop-in Classes: Yoga Vini by Mitra, Yoga Vidya School by Prashant, Swasti Yoga School by Surender, Swami Vivekananda Yoga and Meditation by Mohan
Cost: 200-400 INR per drop in class
5) Café Caper
Himalayas and Ganga.
Himalayas and Ganga, what could be a finer combination of settings.
Rishikesh is a place full of impressive experiences and has a lot to offer, including the exceptional cafe culture. This culture is very rich and raw at the same time.
There are laid back cafes with amazing coffee and cake, with excellent Himalayan views, amazing views of Ganga, German bakeries, those with bustling live music and serving dishes from around the world. With a huge chunk of travelers from Israel, the cafes in Rishikesh display a similar atmosphere and have a heavy Israeli influence on their settings and menus.
Try different cafes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can choose between spacious cafes like Pure Soul and cozy little cafes like Shambhala that are packed with travelers all day.
The cafe culture in Rishikesh has a wide selection and it is definitely one of the best things to do in Rishikesh, provided you know the right places to hangout.
6) Swim in the waterfalls
Take a day off your usual travel schedule and head to the waterfall for a fun and relaxing time.
Neer Gaddu Waterfall
The closest to Blue Jay is Neer Gaddu waterfall, just 4 km away. You could either hire a scooter or walk up to the waterfall for a short hike. It is a small waterfall with natural springs and two swimming pools. A 200m hike will take you to the smaller one, while another 1.2km would take you to the larger one. You can pack your snacks or eat in small shops that serve noodles, tea, and other quick munchies.
The other is the Patna Waterfall, 6 km from Blue Jay. It is comparatively larger and thicker downstream. A perfect place for travelers who want to spend some time in the beautiful nature. There are limestone caves near the waterfall that add to the beauty of this place.
To reach the Patna waterfall, you have to cross the Garud Chatti waterfall on the Neelkanth Temple Road. A 1 km hike into the RajaJi National Park takes you directly to the waterfall.
The best time to visit either of the two waterfalls is during the monsoon, when the springs are foamy and nature blooms green.
Location and distance: From Blue Jay Hostel, Tapovan
Neer Gaddu waterfall – 4 km
Patna waterfall – 6 km
Travel Duration: Neer Gaddu waterfall – 11 min
Patna waterfall – 15 min
How To Reach: By scooter, taxi or on foot.
Cost: Scooter: 500 INR that you can use for from morning 9 till evening 9
Rishikesh is undoubtedly the heart of various adventure sports in India. Below are some of the best adventure sports that can be done in Rishikesh.
River Rafting, Cliff Jumping and Body Surfing
The most popular and thrilling activities for both adventure junkies and newbies.
There are different levels and grades of rafting, from easy to moderate to difficult. The rafting season peaks in March and April and is open all year round, except during monsoons when the current is too strong.
The cliff jump and body surf is either part of kayaking or rafting. All of the above points also apply to cliff jumping and body surfing.
You can book a trusted rafting tour with Blue Jay . Visit Experiences for more details.
Bungee Jumping, Flying Fox and Giant Swing
Check out Jumpin Heights for pricing and more information.
Jumpin Heights is the only travel company that organizes these adventure sports in Rishikesh.
Mountain Biking and Hiking
Grab a mountain bike and head out to explore Rishikesh. Curvy roads and all the highs and lows make for a great biking experience. You can also take your bike up a hill and hike further up. There isn’t one specific route or place,but the entire town. It’s all yours to discover.
8) Camping Flicker
For those who enjoy camping outdoors.
The perfect way to enjoy Rishikesh’s characteristic atmosphere is by camping outdoors. Outdoor camping is trending among young travelers and one of the best things to do in Rishikesh. There are a number of tour operators and outdoor camp organizations that offer camping packages with engaging indoor and outdoor activities such as rock climbing, rappelling, rafting, snorkeling, beach volleyball, live music, etc.
Travelers love to set up a camp with a bonfire and sit around it singing or dancing with their pals. The best time to camp outdoors is usually winter, but if you’re looking for additional camping activities, summer is the ideal time.
Note that it is not allowed to set up a camp anywhere near Ganga. Setting up your own camp may sound like a great idea in a place like Rishikesh, but be careful of the environment and permissions. There may still be places where you can build your own camp and spend time star gazing, cooking, singing, or just relaxing.
Average Cost: 1000-2500 per person can include or exclude meals.
9) Stroll through the Beatles Ashram
Visiting the Beatles Ashram.
The very first name that pops in our mind when talking about things to do in Rishikesh is visiting the Beatles Ashram.
Named after the popular English rock band who stayed with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in this Ashram and learned transcendental meditation, the Beatles Ashram has that signature vibe backed by the fun stories and graffiti on the walls around the Ashram.
The building is old and huge. You could easily spend 1-2 hours exploring different parts of the ashram. It can be nostalgic for Beatles fans or those who have heard of their tales in India.
It sure is a classic place to take beautiful pictures.
Visiting the Beatles Ashram is cheaper for Indians than for foreigners, which sounds a bit dicey. Nevertheless, it finds its place in one of the top things to do in Rishikesh.
Location and distance: Swarg Ashram | 2 km walk from Ram Jhula.
Travel Duration: 10 min
How To Reach: On foot. After crossing the Ram Jhula Bridge, walk 2 km to the right.
Entry Fee: Indian Nationals: 50 INR / Foreign Nationals: 600 INR
10) Temple Stopover
God's own land.
Rishikesh is the pilgrimage town of India in a state called the God’s own land. Considered to be one of the holiest cities, Rishikesh is full of temples of all shapes and sizes.
There are still a few of our favorites mentioned below:
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple
The Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is one of the most visited temples in Rishikesh. This beautiful temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in a quaint area with pictorial views of Nar Narayan Mountain. Although it is a bit far from Rishikesh, it can certainly be a short stop on the way to the Shiv Puri range.
Location and Distance: Neelkanth Mandir Road, Bhoun, 22km
Duration: 57 min
How to reach: Hire a scooter – 500 INR / Hire a taxi – 800-1000 INR
Bharat Mandir is an ancient and a very popular temple in Rishikesh. It has a long list of historical events and is considered one of the most important temples in Hindu mythology.
The temple is named after Lord Rama’s brother Bharat, who meditated in the temple during Treta Yuga with his other brothers.
It has a very old tree near the entrance with a very distinct root formation all appearing to be a single entity. There’s also a small museum with beautiful sculptures, pottery, and adorned bricks for a quick tour of the temple.
Location and Distance: Shri Bharat Mandir Ghat Road, Mayakund , 4.1 km
Duration: 12 min
How to reach: Share an auto or hire an auto from Laxman Jhula auto stand / Rent a scooter from the hostel.
This temple, also known as Terah Manzil Mandir in Hindi, is a 13-story building that is very close to the Laxman Jhula Bridge along the Ganga River. In Trayambakeshwar there is an evening prayer, a small ganga aarti every evening. Located in a beautiful area, through this temple you can see the whole shimmering city of Rishikesh.
Location and Distance: Laxman Jhula, 1km
Duration: 10 min
How to reach: On foot
In addition to the above temples, Rishikesh has a number of other small temples that can be visited to learn more about the town’s valued culture and traditions.
Remember! Hopping from one place to another would do no good. Rather pick some of your favorite activities from the things to do in Rishikesh, be conscious of your surroundings, feel the aura and make the most of this experience.
Don’t forget to click and smile 🙂