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Indian pilgrims are drawn to Haridwar - where the Ganges emerges into the plains from the Himalaya - but Westerners on spiritual journeys make a beeline for Rishikesh, the self- styled ‘yoga capital of the world’. This famous hill resort first entered the popular consciousness in the 1960s, when the Beatles rocked into town to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The ruins of the Maharishi’s ashram still stand on the banks of the Ganges, which at this elevation is clean and crystal clear. Dozens more ashrams are scattered along the shores of the sacred river, particularly around Swarg Ashram, which is illuminated by butter lamps every ...

Indian pilgrims are drawn to Haridwar - where the Ganges emerges into the plains from the Himalaya - but Westerners on spiritual journeys make a beeline for Rishikesh, the self- styled ‘yoga capital of the world’. This famous hill resort first entered the popular consciousness in the 1960s, when the Beatles rocked into town to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The ruins of the Maharishi’s ashram still stand on the banks of the Ganges, which at this elevation is clean and crystal clear. Dozens more ashrams are scattered along the shores of the sacred river, particularly around Swarg Ashram, which is illuminated by butter lamps every evening as part of the ganga aarti ceremony. There are more ashrams upriver at Lakshman Jhula, where a swaying suspension bridge links the towering Swarg Niwas and Shri Trayanbakshwar temples. Most of the yoga ashrams accept foreign students, but some have strict rules about behaviour and diet. As well as classes in yoga and meditation, popular activities include forest walks, white-water rafting, and swimming in the holy river.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Rishikesh is a city in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, located in the foothills of the Himilayas in Northern India.
  • Language: Hindi, Kumaoni, Garhwali
  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    October to April is the main pilgrimage season; the rafting season starts at the end of the monsoon in September.