Rishikesh – a small, spiritual town sitting at the foothills of the Himalayas – is no ordinary tourist attraction. It’s famously known not only as the ‘Yoga capital of the world’, but also the ‘Adventure capital of India’. And rightly so.
On the one hand, the city is a center for studying yoga and meditation, while on the other, it’s jam-packed with virtually every outdoor adventure activity you can think of! (we’ll go through all these below). Add to that an exceptional landscape and delicious cuisine, the popular destination is naturally abuzz with locals and international visitors alike.
Due to its numerous temples, shrines and ashrams, and the sacred River Ganga which passes through the town, Rishikesh is revered as a holy place in Hinduism and Buddhism. In fact, it is one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites, because the three rivers of the Ganga, Yamuna, and the Saraswati, all meet in Rishikesh.
The combination of exhilarating adventure, spiritual retreats and breathtaking scenery offers the most unforgettable experience to all who pass through.
Scroll on to read: 23 Amazing Things to Do in Rishikesh, India
Table of Contents
Rishikesh tourist information
How do I travel in Rishikesh?
Air: Jolly Grant Airport (DED) is the nearest airport, 32km away. The nearest international airport is Indira Gandhi International (DEL), 400km away. You can book airport transfers to Rishikesh from Delhi, or Rishikesh from Dehradun.
Bus: Due to its popularity with tourists, Rishikesh has a good network of buses connecting the city to Haridwar, Dehradun and Delhi. Use 12Go to plan your route.
Train: Rishikesh Station is the main station right in the heart of the city and has great transport links to Delhi, Dehradun and the rest of the country.
Car: Rishikesh’s roads have developed in recent years and are easy to navigate. You can hire a rental car here.
Walking: Rishikesh city centre is compact and walkable, as is Tapovan. I recommend using public transport or a car to get to/from the two regions.
Which is best time to visit Rishikesh?
Rishikesh Attractions Map
Rishikesh Essentials Checklist:
- An excellent pair of walking shoes (for all that walking and trekking)
- A hoodie or warm sweater (for chilly evenings especially in winter)
- A decent raincoat (ideal for water activities here)
- A good quality compact camera (for taking great pics)
23 Amazing Things to do in Rishikesh, India
#1. River Rafting on the Ganges
Submitted by Ipsita Paul of Nomad Enroute
Located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, Rishikesh has become quite the perfect blend of a weekend getaway and adventure sports destination. River rafting is one of the most common adventure activities to try out in Rishikesh.
River rafting is an adventurous water sport that navigates through rapids. Rapids are created where the flow of the water is too strong and intense. The rafts survive those Rapids for kilometers.
In Rishikesh, you get to choose the variations in kilometers. The standard options are 9km, 16km, and 24km. The 9km rafting starts from Brahmapuri, the 16km rafting begins from Shivpuri, and the 24km rafting from Marion Drive. Booking river rafting slots has never been easier. There are plenty of operators you can connect with online, or else as you move around the streets of Rishikesh, you will be approached by rafting operators everywhere.
Opening times: 9am-5pm daily
#2. Try out Paragliding & Parasailing
Rishikesh is one of India’s fastest-developing tourist hubs because of activities like rafting, camping, ballooning, parasailing, and paragliding. Think paragliding is too mainstream? Rishikesh also offers paramotoring and parasailing – among the most exciting adventurous activities in Rishikesh.
#3. Cross the Lakshman Jhula Bridge
Submitted by Paul D’Souza from Paulmarina
Lakshman Jhula is a famous suspension bridge and landmark in Rishikesh. The bridge was built in 1929 and has been connecting the Tapovan village with Jonk.
The 137-meter-long, and 21 meter over the river Ganga, hanging bridge was named after a local deity Lakshman, and jhula means to swing. The bridge is also spelled as Laxman Juhla. Religious pilgrims cross the bridge to visit the Trayambakeshwar temple on the other side of the Ganga river. The walk down to the bridge leads you past relaxed traveler style stores and café places. The bridge isn’t broad but motorbikes and cows also cross this bridge to get to the other side. Be careful with the monkeys, the bridge is their turf, and they do like nuts and bananas. The temple music and views make this a must-do experience for anyone visiting Rishikesh.
#4. Visit the Beatles Ashram
Submitted by Smita Bhattacharya
The Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh, also known as Chaurasi Kutia, is an interesting stop for those seeking urban exploration and also wishing to peek into some salacious yesteryear gossip.
The Ashram, located inside the Rajaji National Park grounds and twenty minutes away from Lakshman Jhula, was originally set up as a training centre for students of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi— the yogi known for popularizing Transcendental Meditation.
The ashram gained international attention between February and April 1968 when the English rock band—The Beatles—arrived to study meditation. Along with them came other celebrities like Donovan, Mia Farrow and Mike Love, effectively putting Rishikesh on the map for the Western world and popularising Indian spirituality and meditation.
Today, the ashram is a well-maintained expanse of ruins with interesting graffiti, murals of the Beatles, and curious edifices dotting the area making for great photo ops. The most interesting structures at the site are the cute meditation domes. There is also a tiny free museum on the ashram grounds with a display of photos showcasing moments the Beatles spent there.
#5. Go Waterfall Trekking
One of the most enjoyable and free Rishikesh attractions is trekking through the stunning countryside at the foothills of the Himalayas, and what better way to do this when waterfalls are involved?
- Garud Chatti Waterfall (4.4 stars on Google)
- Patna Waterfall (4.5 stars on Google)
- Neer Garh Waterfall (4.9 stars on Google)
#6. Yoga and Meditation at famous Ashrams
– Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Recommended by Nilabh from TravelEscsape
Parmarth Niketan means an abode dedicated to the welfare of all.
Parmarth is the largest ashram in Rishikesh. Lying on the holy banks of the sacred Ganga River in the shadow of the Himalayas, the ashram is full of powerful spiritual forces and unmatched beauty.
Millions of people travel to this holy place, Rishikesh, because of the fast-flowing Ganga, gorgeous mountains, and the lush green forest’s breathtaking beauty, which is regarded as a haven for Yogis, Sages, Rishis, in search of enlightenment of the mind, body, and soul.
Stay in Parmarth? Parmarth has more than a thousand rooms providing a sacred atmosphere in Rishikesh. It offers thousands of people from around the globe a new, pure, and religious setting.
You will be provided a clean room, three meals daily, and a morning yoga class at just INR500 per day. A very popular sight Ram Jhula is easily accessible, making this Ashram a perfect place to stay in Rishikesh.
– Sadhana Mandir Ashram
Recommended by Deb from The Visa Project
There are not many ashrams like Sadhana Mandir Ashram in Rishikesh, and the reason is pretty simple. While famous for its connection to Swami Rama who founded this in 1996, it is far from the usual hustle and bustle and touristy things-to-dos.
Located right next to the banks of river Ganges, there is a remoteness and quietude to this place that connected with me from the get go. And you could feel its powerful gen energy permeating in your body and mind when you are in the beautiful flowering gardens surrounding the ashram. Or when you are sitting by the lotus pond overlooking the Himalayas. Or when you are having a delicious breakfast in its cafeteria. Or when you watch the no-frills evening aarti by the river right outside.
The ashram has a meditation hall where you could meditate whenever you want. Along with that they also have retreats for guided meditation along with yoga, self-transformation, silence retreats, the art of living and being, and yoga psychology, that you could opt for.
Along with single, double and dormitory accommodations, they also provide 3 delicious vegetarian meals everyday. Having stayed there more than once, I could tell you that both the rooms and the meals are simple and exactly what you would need when you are on a retreat.
#7. Take a tour of the temples
Submitted by Mary Biron of DiveIn
The main attraction of Rishikesh is the temple town Haridwar, which is situated on the banks of Ganges River. The holy river Ganga flows through both Haridwar and Rishikesh, making them two important religious destinations in India. The two cities are also popular amongst tourists as they provide ample opportunities for trekking, rafting and bird watching.
One of the most famous attractions in Rishikesh is the Lakshman Jhula, which connects Sivananda Ashram with Laxman Temple on one side and Ram Jhula on other side. It was built by Shri Bhagwan Swami Sivanandji Maharaj in 1930s and its construction took almost 15 years to complete.
Trayambakeshwar temple is considered one of the most sacred Hindu temples in India. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and is situated on the banks of Ganges in Rishikesh. The temple is believed to have been established by Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century AD.
A very important place worth visiting is Neelkanth Mahadev Temple which is situated on top of Neelkanth mountain. You can climb up this mountain but before doing so, please make sure that you have enough strength because it will take some time to reach there.
#8. Go cafe hopping
Rishikesh offers a diverse and tasty gastronomic experience for visitors. Bear in mind that since Rishikesh is a sacred place in Hinduism, alcohol and meat are strictly forbidden, so you will have to fully explore the vegan food options available.
- Freedom Cafe – for the best ambience
- Little Buddha Cafe – witness the serene Ganges river while eating delicious snacks
- Cafe Karma – for ambrosial food
- The Pyramid Cafe – for the best camping
- Bistro Nirvana – for its serene and peaceful environment
Top 10 Independent Cafes in Rishikesh
Top 10 Restaurants in Rishikesh
#9. Try cliff Jumping
Submitted by Abhishek from Misfit Wanderers
Nestled on the bank of the river Ganges, Rishikesh is home to numerous adventurous activities. One such activity that provides a lifetime experience for adventure seekers is cliff jumping.
The cliff jumping point is situated at the bottom of the rafting expedition, approximately two kilometers away from the famous Laxman Jhula. Apart from adventure activities, you may witness the spiritual side of Rishikesh by exploring various places to visit in Rishikesh.
Though the cliff’s height from the water surface depends upon the water level, it generally ranges between 20-30 feet. There are a few cliffs that you may try at your convenience.
Cliff jumping is free of cost in Rishikesh. However, you can only perform it by opting for a rafting expedition, as you need a compulsory life jacket.
There are many rafting and cliff-jumping service providers in the city or the Jonk area. You may ask them for a customized package if you are only interested in cliff jumping. The rafting packages vary with time and stand between 500 and 1500 INR.
Opening times: 9am-5pm daily
#10. Check out the Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat
Submitted by Soujanya Rai from The Spicy Journey
Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat is one of the highlights of the things to do in Rishikesh for a number of reasons. Firstly, Triveni Ghat by itself is a major tourist attraction because it is a place where 3 holy rivers, according to Hindu mythology, converge. The rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet here, making this an important Hindu pilgrimage site.
In the daytime, Hindu worshipers take a dip in the confluence of the holy rivers at the ghat (riverbank), hoping to wash off their sins. Whereas in the night, there is an aarti held daily. An aarti is a worship that is done by lighting a diya or oil-lit earthen lamp. This aarti, though, is on a much larger scale, very similar to the famous Ganga aarti held in Varanasi.
#11. Experience Ayurvedic massage & therapies
Spiritual yoga retreats and traditional Ayurvedic massage therapy goes hand in hand in Rishikesh, and you’ll discover plenty of options in Tapovan and Rishikesh city centre.
However, if you’re seeking something truly sensational, look no further than Veda5 Luxury Wellness Retreat – one of the very best luxury wellness destinations in India.
Nestled within the Himalayas just outside of Rishikesh, there is everything from ancient Ayurveda treatments, yoga classes, healing and rejuvenation, guided meditation sessions, and the most incredible organic food.
- One hour Ayurveda or organic spa therapy or massage
- Use of the swimming pool and Ayurveda bar
- Yoga and meditation sessions by toga guru
- Village temple trek
- Hotel pickup from Tapovan or Rishikesh town
#12. Camping, Bonfire and Stargazing
Submitted by Soumya Goswami of Nature Diary
Camping by the bank of the Ganges river in Rishikesh is an exciting activity that every traveler should try out. The burbling sound mixed with the chirping of birds makes the environment enchanting when the day starts.
There are more than 20 well-maintained campsites, where you can get cozy accommodations with air coolers, attached toilets, delicious meals for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, and facilities for indoor games like table tennis and pool.
Most camping operators charge ₹1000-₹2500 for basic accommodation and food. Rishikesh also houses several luxury camping sites with a price of around ₹5000-₹6000, which varies in different seasons.
Upon arriving at your tent, unpack, refresh and relax before going to the next adventure. River rafting is a popular water sport at Rishikesh, which most camping operators can arrange. Some camps at Rishikesh have outdoor gaming activities like volleyball, which many tourists enjoy.
After having your lunch at the dining space, hike towards the river and enjoy a beautiful evening. Enjoy the sunset and immerse yourself into the magical ambiance of Rishikesh.
As recommended by Soumya Goswami from the travel journal NatureDiary, camping in Rishikesh is incomplete without a bonfire in the evening. Chilling with mouth-watering barbecues and drinks while enjoying the warmth of the fire is a must thing to do at Rishikesh.
#13. Watch sunset over the River Ganga
Based in Delhi?
Things to do near Rishikesh:
#14. Visit the Vasishtha Caves
Vasishtha cave, or gufa, is an ancient cave, and legend has it that Sage Vasishtha used to meditate in this cave with his wife for over hundreds of years. He chose this place right between the sacred river Ganga and Gulab trees to attain positive spiritual energy.
#15. Try out the Giant Swing
Not for the faint-hearted, the Giant Swing – situated on the outskirts of Rishikesh – is the largest of its kind in India, a world-class adrenaline experience, and one of, if not the most hardcore adventure of all the Rishikesh attractions.
Opening times: 10am-4pm, Wed-Mon (closed on Tuesday)
#16. Wildlife sighting at Rajaji National Park Safari
#17. Hiking in the Himalayas
Among many other exciting activities, hiking around Rishikesh is also equally popular with trails suitable for everyone from newbies to hardcore trekking enthusiasts.
Hiking up the Himalayas is a perfect day out in Rishikesh to test your skills and explore incredible scenery. The best time to hike up the Himalayas is from October to March, whilst the summer months are slightly hotter and more exhausting.
Other Things to See & Do in Rishikesh:
Essential India Travel Resources:
For more useful travel information on India, check out these articles:
General Information about Rishikesh
- Area: 11.5km squared
- Weather: 9C (winter), 38C (spring)
- Elevation: 340m
- Population: 333,239
- Founded: 1952 (municipality)
- International Airport: Delhi (DEL), 251km away. The nearest domestic airport is Dehradun (DED), 35km away.
Don’t forget to book travel insurance
It goes without saying really that when you travel in Asia and beyond, travel insurance is super important.
I never always bothered though. For years I travelled without insurance as I thought, “what could happen?”
Well, I once got my bag stolen in Vietnam and I had an electric shock in a hostel bathroom in Mexico. What if you’re hiking up a mountain and your appendix suddenly bursts, leaving you in excruciating pain and requiring emergency treatment? Anything could happen.
Rishikesh Interactive Map
So there you have it – 23 Amazing things to do in Rishikesh, India.
There really is so much to see and do in such a small and remote town on the edge of the Himalayas. From my experiences traveling India, Rishikesh was one of those truly unforgettable and unique places.
And of course, for the budget backpacker – Rishikesh, and India in general – is so EASY to explore on a budget because everything is so affordable here!
Where to Stay in Rishikesh:
- The Vilana Hotel Rishikesh (hotel, double rooms)
- Aloha Apartments by blissful Ganges (rooms with balcony, outdoor pool, spa and wellness)
- Maa Ganga Guest House (budget guesthouse in city centre)
- Bhagirathi Hotel (budget hotel with double rooms and balcony)
- Kamal Stay Inn (budget hotel with double rooms)
If you’re staying in Rishikesh, use the widget below to find some great accommodation options on the Booking site:
Looking for something more authentic? You can find great deals on vacation homes at Vrbo – use the widget below to search and book a rental place:
Visit the Trayambakeshwar Temple on the banks of the River Ganga, this 13-storey Hindu temple is the most prominent of all the shrines and temples in Rishikesh. Also known as Tera Manzil temple, it is clearly visible from the Lakshman Jhula.
Here’s my complete 2-day Rishikesh itinerary:
- Walk across the Lakshman Jhula bridge
- Visit the Trayambakeshwar Temple, the most prominent landmark in Rishikesh.
- Visit the iconic Beatles Ashram
- Go river rafting on the River Ganga
- Check out Rishikesh’s cosy cafes
- Experience yoga and meditation at famous ashrams like Parmarth Niketan, Omkarananda Ganga Sadan, Swarg, Shree Mahesh Heritage School
- Witness the Ganga Aarti at Trivet Ghat at night
- Visit the Gita Bhawan
- Hike the Himalayas
- Enjoy an Ayurvedic massage and therapy session
- Watch the sunset over the River Ganga
- Go camping and stargazing
Two days in Rishikesh is enough to allow you to explore the town’s famous temples, shrines and ashrams as well as experience a couple of adventure activities such as river rafting, paragliding and waterfall trekking. If you opt for 4-5 days, you can indulge in more activities such as hiking the Himalayas, yoga and meditation at ashrams, cafe hopping, bungee jumping, and more adventure activities.
Here’s how to best spend 24 hours in Rishikesh:
- Walk across the Lakshman Jhula bridge
- Visit the Trayambakeshwar Temple
- See the Beatles Ashram
- Go river rafting on the River Ganga
- Check out the Little Buddha Cafe for its delicious Navratan Korma and Malai Kofta.
- Go shopping in Rishikesh town
- Indulge in a traditional Ayurvedic massage and therapy session
- Witness the Ganga Arti at Trivet Ghat after dark
One day in Rishikesh goes you enough time to explore the famous sites like Lakshman Jhula, the Beatles Ashram and the prominent Trayambakeshwar Temple, whilst also allowing you to do an adventure activity such as river rafting or waterfall trekking. Rishikesh is packed with a plethora of activities and experiences, it’s perfect for budget vacations as well as laid-back luxury stays.
Rishikesh has grown in popularity over the years due to the sheer amount of adventure activities, spiritual retreat experiences and famous landmarks on offer in such a small area. The city also grew in popularity with Westerners when the Beatles stayed there, and it is considered the birthplace of yoga, hence its nickname: the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’.
Rishikesh Travel Guides
For more in-depth reading about Cape Town and the Cape region, you can get your hands on a copy of these bestsellers below:
Book Your Trip to India: Budget Tips & Tricks
Flights: As always, I source the cheapest flights on the web from Skyscanner and Kiwi.com. They are considered the top flight search engines for the best deals.
Accommodation: I use Booking for the best hotel deals and HostelWorld for the cheapest stays. If you’re considering Airbnb, be sure to check Vrbo to find cheaper vacation stays.
SIM cards: DrimSim is a universal SIM card that isn’t tied to an operator and works in any country/region.
Travel Insurance: Stay protected from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.
Tours & Excursions: I book all my fave activities and guided tours on Get Your Guide & Viator – they do superb deals whilst offering excellent customer support.
Renting a car? I always use DiscoverCars, make sure you book your car hire in advance. For airport transfers, I use KiwiTaxi for the best deals.
Need to store your luggage in a locker? Use Radical Storage to store your stuff in a locker in any city for just $5 per day.
Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.