Adventure, Food, Yoga: The Complete Guide to Rishikesh | Zostel

A jumble of remarkable adventure sports, serene sunsets by archaic ghats, and a whole concealed world of spiritualism, Rishikesh pleases everyone with its one side or the other. Pilgrims make their way to offer their prayers to the holy river of Ganga, spirtualists fly down from across the globe to learn the ancient practice of yoga, and travellers seek its many cafes and adventures. And now, top this all with a stunning landscape of the rugged Himalayas of Uttarakhand, a glistening blue river that flows ever so gracefully, and the nearly perfect mountain weather.

This is all to say that Rishikesh is a coveted destination for reasons too many, and in this travel blog on Rishikesh, we are trying to cover the ones that are likely to interest you the most.

Rishikesh, India
Picture by @ranaa_saheb

Things to Do in Rishikesh

River Rafting in Rishikesh

No individual that visits Rishikesh for the first time goes back without checking river rafting off their bucket list. Or at least, in an ideal world, it would be that way. River rafting is one of the most popular things to do in Rishikesh, and owing to its popularity, it is also affordable and easily accessible.

The season begins mid-September and goes on in full swing till December when the water starts to turn too cold. Then again, the adventure resumes in February and goes on until the rains takeover, which is on the last day of June.

River rafting in Rishikesh happens at four different stretches. These are, Brahmapuri to Lakshman Jhula, Shivpuri to Brahmpuri, Marine Drive to Shivpuri, and Kaudiayala to Marine Drive. All the stretches are 9 to 11 km in distance, and can be accessed on the basis of your expertise. The first stretch is the one you’re likely to go for, since it is a beginners’ level rafting stretch, the second and third being moderate, and the final one being strictly for experts. The reason is the increasing rapids of Ganga, which make rafting in certain waters extremely tough due to the heavy flow.

The charges for river rafting are anywhere between INR 500 to INR 2000, with discounts applicable on group bookings. It is advised to make a booking directly through a local contact to save costs. You can get in touch at the hostel reception for the same.

Bungee Jumping in Rishikesh

At Mohan Chatti, trained professionals help you take a literal leap of faith with an electrifying bungee jump. You whoosh a whopping 83 m below amidst a beautiful view of the Shivalik range and spring back up within a matter of minutes. But the experience undoubtedly stays with you for a lifetime, and so does the certificate that many companies offer. The charges for this start at INR 2500 and shoot upwards depending on other factors such as season, number of bookings, and so on.

You can also try the giant swing at the same place.

Other Adventures

Rishikesh is also big on other adventures such as Kayaking, Cliff Jumping, River Dipping, and Flying Fox. Most of these happen in Shivpuri, and if you’re there at the perfect time in the perfect season, you may take back extraordinary memories of Rishikesh.

Biking Explorations

Rishikesh is currently going through a biking revolution, or so it seems. You will find many a travellers exploring the mountainous terrain of the town and its many colourful alleys on a rented bicycle, which is as convenient as it is exciting. And with a town like Rishikesh, the possibilities for trails are many. On days you want to be close to nature, you can pedal to the foliage just north of Tapovan, with its forest-led milieus. And when you feel like having street food or just chill by the ghats, take a circle of the town, starting from Laxman Jhula and all the way to the Ram Jhula and back.

Rishikesh, India
Picture by @ankitguptaphotography

Trekking in Rishikesh

While Rishikesh is mainly for probing into spiritualism or unwinding in a riverside cafe, there are a select few treks that you can indulge in. These include the Neergarh Falls trek, the trek to Kunjapuri, and the Neelkanth Mahadev trek. Suited for beginners as well as experts, these treks take you through the foliage of the Himalayan jungles and reward with a spectacular view of the Himalayas of Uttarakhand from the many viewpoints along.

Announcement: We now have an amazing new hostel in Rishikesh! Check it out here.

Places to Visit in Rishikesh for Backpackers

Ganga Beach

Interestingly, there are petite stretches of white sand on the banks of river Ganga here in Rishikesh. Arrive here early in the morning for a blissful time without the hindrance of tourist crowds. You can medidate, read, picnic, take a dip in the water, or do yoga amidst a serene atmosphere, the possibilities are endless.

Ganga Beach, Rishikesh
Ganga Beach, Rishikesh | Picture by @ankitguptaphotography

The ghats of Rishikesh

Another laid-back place to be at, the ghats of Rishikesh are usually quiet and make for a profound place to take in the views of the Himalayas, especially at sunset. With pilgrims frequenting for worship, locals taking the ferry to the other end of the river, and travellers taking strolls, the ghats also make for a good place to get to know Rishikesh up close. Times we would recommend for a memorable visit are early in the morning, at sunset, or late at night. Try all the three if you’re here for long.

Beatles Ashram

The ashram where The Beatles visited and stayed in parts has quite some recent history attached to it. Their visit to Rishikesh brought the town an international recognition, but over the decades, the very Ashram where they stayed was left abandoned. Later, fans took hold of the place to make graffitis as a tribute to the band. Today, it is one of the popular places to visit in Rishikesh, entertaining travellers with its stunning graffitis and zen vibe.

Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh
Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh, photo by @ranaa_saheb

The Jhulas

Connecting the two ends of Rishikesh split into half by the rapidly flowing Ganga are the Ram Jhula and the Laxman Jhula. Ram Jhula is surrounded by the many temples and small shops selling bohemian and religious articles. Whereas Laxman Jhula is flocked with cafes and backpacking hostels, attracting mainly backpackers and young travellers. These Jhulas light up every evening in the colour of melting gold, making for a delightful sight.

Ram Jhula of Rishikesh at night
Ram Jhula of Rishikesh at night, picture by @ranaa_saheb

Ganga Arati at Triveni Ghat

Pulling quite a few curious travellers on a daily basis, this Arati is a special offering to Goddess Ganga. A tradition that has lived through generations together, the arati is a 15-minute affair at sunset, and the timings usually differ through seasons depending on when the sun goes down. Triveni Ghat is the best place to witness this arati, although I must warn you, if you have been to Varanasi and are visiting only for witnessing the ritual, this experience may look a bit dull in comparison.

Planning a visit to the adventure town of Uttarakhand? Check out Zostel Rishikesh for a happening stay full of in-house and outdoor activities!

Zostel Rishikesh 2.0, a backpacking hostel in Rishikesh
Zostel Rishikesh 2.0, a backpacking hostel in Rishikesh | Picture by @ankitguptaphotography

For Food Fanatics: Popular Cafes of Rishikesh

Beatles Cafe

Also known as The 60’s Cafe, this charming little place is dedicated to the legendary rock band, The Beatles. In the late 1960s, members of the band arrived in Rishikesh, India to seek answers pertaining to spirituality and the meaning of life. Their brief explorations left a timestamp on the holy land, and souvenirs of it are found in places like Beatles Cafe.

The menu at this cafe features Asian, Italian and North Indian cuisines. With retro music on the loop, a blissful view of the Ganga, and books to leaf through, the Beatles Cafe makes for a sweet visit.

Little Buddha Cafe

Perched on the first floor right by the holy Ganga, Little Buddha offers a remarkable view with soothing breezes making your mealtime even better. The menu features elaborate breakfast options, fresh juices and beverages, as well as Italian, Indian, and Vegan options.

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Picture by @ranaa_saheb

Freedom Cafe

A quaint little place with traditional seating and a blissful view of the Ganga, Freedom Cafe in Rishikesh is popular for its pancakes and breakfast options. You can spend hours reveling in the view and trying delicacies from their lengthy menu on a lazy day.

Bistro Nirvana

A patio with entirely wooden and bamboo seating, Bistro Nirvana of Rishikesh offers Israeli, Italian, Chinese, and Indian options. The cafe is popular among travellers.

Patio- Aloha on the Ganges

With a casual dining vibe and a slightly exorbitant menu, this place is perfect for a mountain date with good food and a remarkable atmosphere. Dine overlooking the flowing Ganga, as North Indian and Italian dishes keep you company along with a choice of desserts.

Yoga Ashrams of Rishikesh

Although its nickname, ‘Yoga capital of the world’ is non-official, it is true for a fact that Rishikesh is the birthplace of Yoga. To date, seekers of spiritualism, yoga practices, and Hinduism from all over the world end up in this town, for months together. Some never leave, and that tells you about the charm of this holy land.

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Picture by @ranaa_saheb

When it comes to learning Yoga and living the life of a Yogi, Rishikesh has dozens of Ashrams which take you on the path of simple living, healthy practices, and teach you the art of yoga. The most revered of these are Parmarth Niketan and the Sivananda Ashram.

Parmarth Niketan offers two yoga classes, with the facility of staying (there are a thousand beds in this institution!) along with three meals. Enthusiasts can extensively learn yoga, the heritage of the Vedas, and spiritualism in trained courses. Visitors are also welcome to take one-time classes in return of a donation.

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Picture credits to parmarth.org

Sivananda Ashram, on the other hand, follows a different regime with the same ultimate purpose. The teachings here are based on the five elements that yoga covers, postures, breathing, relaxation, meditation, and diet. The ashram offers free one-day yoga and meditation classes to anyone who is interested. The accommodation for a long stay to learn in depth is free of cost too, however, one has to apply in advance and show genuine interest in the same.

Other such institutions, founded as early as the 1960s, include Yoga Niketan, Swami Dayananda Ashram, and the Rishikesh Yogpith. These and many more ashrams offer different courses, ranging from 300 hours to 500 hours and more. You can rely on the information on their website and arrange your plans according to what you seek.

Zostel Rishikesh 2.0

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Private Room at Zostel Rishikesh 2.0, a backpacking hostel in Rishikesh | Picture by @ankitguptaphotography

To make all your experiences better, be it with a social vibe or the possibility of finding a new friend to explore these places with, is our backpacking hostel in Rishikesh, Zostel Rishikesh 2.0! With a bustling rooftop and a kick-ass common room featuring pool, foosball, and many indoor games, the hostel is just what you need to have a lively time when you’re not out there exploring. The private rooms and dorms are lavish too, offering you sweet comfort on your short or long stay.

Zostel Rishikesh 2.0, a backpacking hostel in Rishikesh
Zostel Rishikesh 2.0, a backpacking hostel in Rishikesh | Picture by @ankitguptaphotography

Check out Zostel Rishikesh, a backpacker hostel in Rishikesh.

Zostel Rishikesh 2.0, a backpacking hostel in Rishikesh
Dorm room at Zostel Rishikesh 2.0, a backpacking hostel in Rishikesh | Picture by @ankitguptaphotography

Writer, Pranavi Chhikniwala.


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