A trip to Rishikesh may seem unnecessary or even a little intimidating for the non yoga enthusiast, but with it’s beautiful scenery, adventure activities, temples and spirituality and relaxed vibe you should definitely think twice before overlooking it!
Rishikesh is such a peaceful escape from the chaos of Indian cities. Just spending a few days relaxing at a guesthouse by the Ganges can be exactly what you need to get back into your travels. Rishikesh has some great food, everything from cheap and yummy thalis and dosas to veggie burgers and pesto pasta. I love the food and the vibe at Little Buddha cafe in Laxman Jhula. It’s such a lovely place for an evening meal up in the treehouse style rooftop overlooking the swirling waters of the Ganges below. A stroll along the ghats to watch the evening Ganga Aarti is also a must in Rishikesh. Every night, people gather around Swarg Ashram to release little flower-filled leaf baskets into the river. The baskets are lit alight and float downstream as offerings. For a few rupees you can buy your own, or you can just sit back, and soak it all in.
If you feel up for something a little more adventurous, Rishikesh offers some fun opportunities. Having only recently emerged from the Himalaya, the Ganges here are relatively clean and have some fun rapids, making it great for white-water rafting. Apart from being popular with foreign tourists, Rishikesh is also a top destination for locals. For this reason, things can get really busy on weekends, and naturally prices go up! If you can avoid it, try not to book your rafting trip for a weekend. Rishekesh is also a great place for kayaking, both for beginners and more experienced paddlers. I took a couple of lessons with a great company De-N-Ascent Expeditions who I would highly recommend. Finding a reliable and experienced company to go rafting or kayaking with is really important, and I’m planning a whole blog post going further into this, so stay tuned! At this stage I’ll just say that it’s worth spending a bit extra to get a professional and safe experience.
White water rafting still not extreme enough for you? Rishikesh takes things a level further. How about India’s highest bungee jump? That’s right, Jumpin Heights, just out of Rishikesh, offers you the opportunity to jump off an 83 meter platform, as well as other awesome activities. Jumpin Heights was where I did my first (and so far only) bungee jump, and while it was completely terrifying, I couldn’t have asked for a more friendly or professional experience.
Yes, you read right! New experiences are a huge part of travel, and what better place than the world capital of yoga to take your first class! You don’t have to stay in an ashram, eat an Ayurvedic diet or spend hours meditating to give yoga a try. Drop-in classes are cheap in Rishikesh and there are heaps of options for beginners. For about 250 rupees you can see what all the hype is about with a one hour class. At worst, you’ll end up with a great travel story, but who knows you might end up discovering a new passion or making some new friends!
- Take a side trip to Haridwar, without a doubt one of my favourite cities in India!
- Risheksh is a great place to begin a trip further into the Himalaya, why not sign up for a multi-day trek?
- Take a refreshing dip at one of the beaches along the Ganges, but be careful of the current!
With all this and so much more, I hope I have encouraged you non-Yogis to to add Rishikesh to your list, even if you don’t end up taking that yoga class!