Rishikesh is a city, municipal council and a tehsil in Dehradun district of the Indian state, Uttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as the 'Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas and 'Yoga Capital of the World'. Rishikesh is surrounded by three districts: Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal and Haridwar. It is approximately 25 km north of the city Haridwar and 43 km southeast of the state capital Dehradun. According to Census of India, 2011 Rishikesh had a population of 102,138 making it the 7th most populated city and the largest municipal council in the state of Uttarakhand. It is known as the pilgrimage town and regarded as one of the holiest places to Hindus. Hindu sages and saints have visited Rishikesh since ancient times to meditate in search of higher knowledge.
In September 2015, the Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma announced that Rishikesh and Haridwar will be the first in India to be given the title of "twin national heritage cities". Due to the religious significance of the place, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly prohibited in Rishikesh.
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Situated on the banks of the holy Ganges, Triveni Ghat is among the most magnetic places to visit in Rishikesh. The confluence point of three of the most sacred rivers in Hindu mythology: Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi, this ghat is considered as the most pious among all the other ghats within the vicinity.
According to the legends, the water of this ghat has the magical power of purifying one's heart and soul, and make it free from all the sins. Devotes from every corner of the country throngs Triveni Ghat and takes a dip with utmost devotion and faith. Come morning, you can witness them offering milk to the river, performing 'Surya Namaskar' and feeding the fishes around the ghat. By evening, this auspicious ghat turns into a riot of colours as it is time of the 'Maha Aarti' or the aarti to Mother Ganga.
Priest and the devotees perform several rituals during this sacred event, and offers lamps clad with flowers and incense stick to the Goddess as mark of their gratitude and devotion. The melodious hymns of the temple bells and the shanks can be heard everywhere, and the entire vicinity turns into a plethora of colour during this time. The peace and devotion that exists during the aarti makes Triveni Ghar one of the must visit Rishikesh tourist places.
Most of your teenage or college days might have passes admiring the songs of the favourite band called 'Beatles', but do you know your favourite band once visited a quaint ashram in Rishikesh to attend a special meditation programme? Yes, it was in the year 1968, the entire group of Beatle flew down to India to meet a saint called Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and practice some advanced meditation programme under his flagship.
Following this phenomenal visit, the ashram gained instant popularity and was named as the 'Beatles Ashram'; the visit also made it one of the renowned places to visit in Rishikesh. Located on the foothills of the Himalayas, though the ashram was abandoned in 1997, the complex buildings and the stone-huts can still be found standing strong in their place. It is one of the very few places in Rishikesh that are pretty tough to find.
According to the recent plans of the regional government, the ashram will soon reopen as a museum that will showcase its delightful history and contribution to the society. To add more, one should know that the span of time Beatles group stayed in this ashram, is considered as one of the most productive periods for the band!
Located in the centre of the city, this sacred temple is believed to be one of the oldest religious sites in the entire country and one of the sought after tourist places in Rishikesh. According to the common folklores, the existence of Bharat Mandir is as old as that of Rishikesh! Legends has it that the present day deity of this temple was reinstalled by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya during 789AD on the auspicious day of Basant Panchnami.
Even till date, devotees flocks this temple on the same day of the Hindu calendar and attend a grand procession wherein the idol of Lord Hrishikesh is taken out for a dip in the holy water and reinstalled in the temple. Believed to be named after 'Bharat', brother of Lord Ram, the main deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu, and has an idol carved from a single piece of black stone.
Legends also has it that after the battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandava brothers while on their way to heaven, took shelter and also offered their prayers to Lord Hrishikesh Narayan in this temple.
Nestled amidst Lakshman Jhula and Rishikesh on the left bank of the Ganges and the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, the ambience that exists in Swarga Ashram is truly heavenly! While the picturesque surroundings of the ashram contributes much to its tranquil atmosphere, the devotion and spirituality that exists here makes it a paradise for those who seek mental peace and tranquillity!
The epicentre of yoga and meditation within the Garhwal gateway, it is among the most scenic and pleasant places to visit in Rishikesh. Established by Swami Atma Prakash, it can also be called as the home of the homeless, the abode of the needy and a place to relinquish the mind from all the miseries of the society. It offers living spaces to more than 100 people along with offering them free food and other kitchen facilities. A library in Swarga Ashram offers free education on religion and culture to the visitors.
It also has a hospital that offers free treatment to all the saints, pilgrims and others alike. You can reach this divine ashram either by a boat ride through the holy Ganges or by crossing the Ram Jhula. The ashram also has several shopping complexes that sells religious commodities, cultural books, ayurvedic shops, eateries and lot more.
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