‘A spiritual oasis in the desert of chaos’ – that is how I define Rishikesh. Rishikesh is a peaceful and serene city in Uttarakhand, located in the foothills of the Great Himalayan Range. The city is perfect combo of adventure and spirituality. It attracts adventure seekers as well as pilgrims from all over the world. The city has an ample of temples, holy ghats, ashrams and yoga and meditation centers. Not only this, the city also offers the thrills of Camping, Rafting, Rappelling, Zip Lining, Rock Climbing, Trekking, Kayaking, Bungee Jumping and many other adventure sports.
Rishikesh is considered as the Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas and also as the Yoga Capital of the World. The word ‘Rishikesh’ means ‘Lord of the Senses’, which, according to the Hindu mythology, is an avatar of Lord Vishnu. As the name itself suggests, the place truly energizes your senses. Rishikesh has numerous yoga centers and ashrams that can take you far away from the rush in the cities and cleanse your soul. It, being the yoga capital of the world, has many schools where Ayurveda is taught and Yoga training programs are conducted. There are over 300 yoga retreats in Rishikesh. Thousands of travelers come to Rishikesh to learn and experience Ayurveda and Yoga.
Apart from being the world’s yoga capital, Rishikesh is a splendid destination to sit in the laps of nature and get engrossed in its beauty or to witness the extreme thrills of nature. Rishikesh has a lot to offer when it comes to jaw dropping adventurous moments. Among the many offered on its platter, the best ones, that Rishikesh is well known for, are camping and whitewater rafting.
There is no other activity matching the thrills of camping in Rishikesh. Rishikesh has a variety of flora which makes it one of the best camping spots in India. Different types of camping facilities are available here, like Jungle Camping, Luxury Camping and Riverside Beach Camping. Each has its own way to introduce you to the beauty of Mother Nature. There are numerous camping sites that the tour and travel management companies provide, here in Rishikesh. The best camping spots are located at Byasi which is 26 kms away from Laxman Jhula.
Not just for camping, but Rishikesh is also famous for many other activities like River Rafting. Rafting is the highlight among all the fun sports done, here, in the city. Rishikesh is situated along the banks of the holy River Ganga. Rafting in the roaring waters of the Ganges is more enthralling than a roller coaster ride. River Rafting starts from Shivpuri, Brahmpuri, Marine Drive and Kaudiyala, all divided into different rapids and grades as per the difficulty level.
Best Time to Visit
Camping in Rishikesh can be done in any time of the year. While, the Rafting season begins from March to May, in summers and from September to November in autumn.
Other Attractions and Activities in Rishikesh
The tourists can take almost half a day for sightseeing at Rishikesh. You can visit the Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula. These are two suspension bridges across the Ganges which provide scenic views to the pedestrians crossing the bridge. There are several temples here, like the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, Laxman Temple and the Trayambakeshwar Temple, each having its own glorious history. You can also go for a safari in the Rajaji National Park which is located near Rishikesh. This park is famous for its tigers and elephants. I will advise you to spare one full day for a safari in the park.
The unique activities in Rishikesh which I consider in my ‘must to-do list’ are to witness the evening Ganga Aarti at the Triveni Ghat and to visit the Swarga Ashram and attend the yoga and meditation sessions conducted at the place, which will rejuvenate your soul and cleanse your mind. Also, don’t forget to stop by the way and have a typical Indian lunch at the Chotiwala Restaurant. It offers a variety of regional Indian cuisines and Garhwali delicacies. It is the first choice for most of the travellers due to its vegetarian and vegan dishes. The restaurant is mainly famous for different types of Thaalis that they serve, like Marwari Thali, Bengali Thaali, etc., each having dishes from the different parts of India. You can also go for an ayurvedic massage at any Ayurvedic spa.
Many tourists have already had a lot of fun camping and rafting in Rishikesh. Some of them have shared their unforgettable experiences with me.
“On the road to Rishikesh
I was dreaming more or less,
And the dream I had was true
Yes, the dream I had was true.”
Indeed, the Beatles were successful in putting words to the feelings that one gets in fascinating Rishikesh. I thought only Goa could spur such magic, but I was completely wrong.
Our First Rafting and Camping Experience Worth Sharing
As soon as the announcement of Rishikesh Rafting Trip was made by the office management, the entire floor erupted with joy. After finishing office on Friday, we planned on leaving for Rishikesh. Rishikesh is an ideal weekend getaway from Delhi. The place leaves you completely rejuvenated and helps you conquer your fears and fulfill all your adventure fantasies. So, the best tip for a Rishikesh tour is to leave on Friday evening, reach Rishikesh on Saturday, enjoy Rafting and other adventures and then, return on Sunday. You are guaranteed to start the new week with a fresh mind and a lot of enthusiasm.
Soon, we had entered Rishikesh and the delightful view of the Ganges combined with the chilly morning breeze that pumped up everyone. It was the perfect start for the day. We had our tents on the river side, with the Ganges flowing nearby. The ambiance of the place was awesome. The location was bang on, where you can drive your vehicle up to the tents, unlike the other sites where one has to walk to reach up to the tents.
The next day, after having our life jackets on and the paddles in our hands, we started to row our raft as per the guide’s instructions. I loved our raft guide. He is a fun loving and experienced person when it comes to knowing the waters of the river. Paddling seemed easy until we came across the first rapid. The violent waves, the roaring waters and the boulders in between seemed to threaten us to go back.
But, our adventurer’s spirits took us right in the middle of the rapid, and soon we found ourselves combating the wild currents by rowing in sync and paddling as hard as we could. The spine chilling water had drenched us all and we were shivering badly. But we did not stop to paddle. Before we could realize, we were out of that rapid and out of our breath too.The mixture of the rapids from easy to challenging was fun and enjoyable. Hopping out of the raft and floating over the water was amazing. Cliff jumping experience was full on ‘masti’ (fun). Every single person in our group enjoyed it thoroughly. Having Maggi at the cliff jumping spot was an ultimate experience.
Night time at the camp was the best part of the entire journey. Without electricity, one can never imagine the amount of fun we had. The round table Antakshari game, plus the mouth watering snacks and dinner around bonfire added spice to the overall program. The trip was worth every penny.
Rishikesh has a plenty to offer to the tourists and travellers. Be it a spiritual pilgrimage destination or a paradise for adventure seekers, Rishikesh has shown all of its sides in the best possible ways. So, what are you waiting for? C’mon, set your backpacks and come to Rishikesh for the ‘once in a lifetime’ experience of camping and rafting in the Yoga capital.
Manoj Roy is marketing professional based in Delhi. Apart from his hectic professional life he likes to adventure travel and explore wildlife of India.