Rishikesh abounds in temples. Most of the pilgrims who pass through Rishikesh on their way to the Himalayan shrines of the Char Dham pause for a holy dip and puja at Triveni Ghat, in the central part of the town. The river here looks especially spectacular during aarti (evening worship) when diyas or oil lamps float on the water. Nearby is the Bharat Mandir, Rishikesh's oldest temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
The Chandreshwar temple stands at the confluence of the Chandrabhaga and the Ganges. The Hanuman Mandir is flocked by a large number of devotees on Tuesday.
The dense-knit complex of cafés, shops and ashrams collectively known as Swarg Ashram, opposite Shivananda Nagar, is the most attractive part of Rishikesh, backing on to forested hills where caves are still inhabited by sadhus or hermits. The large courtyard of the Parmarth Ashram here is crammed with brightly clad statues of gods and goddesses. Around 2 km north of Swarg Ashram, a path skirts the east bank of the river en route to Lakshman Jhula. The Lakshman Jhula is a 450-feet-long suspension bridge and was built in 1939. The Lakshman Temple on the west bank has been built to commemorate the journey of Lakshmana across the river on a jute rope. Many of the temples and ashrams around both ends of the bridge-such as the extraordinary Kailashananda Ashram, with each of its thirteen stories dedicated to a different deity-are always filled with devotees. It is a pleasant 2-km walk from this place to the Shivananda Jhula. Ganga Museum has one of the richest collections of Mughal and Rajput paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries. The tomb of Fateh Jang, built in honor of one of Shahjahan's ministers, combines Islamic and Hindu architectural features. The Jaisamand Lake is a large artificial lake constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1910 and makes an excellent picnic spot. The Vijay Mandir Palace is the royal residence of Maharaja Jai Singh, uninhabited except for old retainers. This palace serves as a window to the lifestyle of the princes.
Places Around Rishikesh
The Vilas Vinay Palace, about 10 km from the main township, is a garden palace and was once the residence of Maharaja Vinay Singh. Its gardens are watered by the Silisehr Lake. There is a hunting lodge on the hillside overlooking the lake and it has been now turned into a hotel.
Fifteen kilometers on the Rishikesh-Chamba road is located the historical town of Narendra Nagar. A town of archaeological importance, it was built by the King of Tehri, Narendra Singh. The royal palace here is worth seeing as is the magnificent statue of Lord Shiva's attendant, the Nandi bull.
Rajaji National Park at Chilla is 16 km from Rishikesh. The park (820 sq km) has wildlife in abundance and is especially known for its wild elephants. The Sariska sanctuary is 37 km from Rishikesh. It was established in 1955 and is located in the valley of the Aravallis.
The Nilkanth Mahadev, east of Rishikesh, is one of the holiest shrines here. The beautiful forest track rises through the forests behind Swarg Ashram, passes Mahesh Yogi's ashram, and eventually descends to Nilkantha, which is at an altitude of 1700 meters. Its small bazaar and dharamshala become especially animated during mid-July, when pilgrims flock to the temple.
The small white Shakti temple of Kunjapuri is 10 km higher at the sharp point of an almost perfectly conical hill with breathtaking views of the Himalayas to the north.
Rishikesh is called the yoga capital of the world and there are many ashrams in Rishikesh offering courses on meditation, yoga and Hindu philosophy. The hatha yoga and pranayama meditation classes at Sri Ved Niketan Ashram are well known. The Shivananda Ashram (Ph: 430040) is located opposite the Shivananda Jhula and is flocked by tourists. It is also possible to stay in the ashram by intimating the authorities a month earlier. Other ashrams include the Yoga Niketan Ashram (Ph: 430227), Omkarananda Ashram (Ph: 430883), Vanmali Gita Yogashram (Ph: 431316), Dayananda Vedanta Ashram, Brahma Niwas and the Yoga Study Center (Ph: 431196). The International Yoga Festival is organized every year from February 2 to 7 by UP Tourism.