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 is strictly prohibited in Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is also known as gateway to the Char Dham. Char Dham is four popular holy temples on the hills (Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri) Thousands of people attracted every year to Rishikesh for spiritual relief, peace, learn yoga, adventure and to take a dip for salvation.
The famous among them were Beatles, Kate Winslet and many more others celebrities. It is believed that by meditation in Rishikesh one can get "Moksha" (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth) as well as holy dip in the river Ganges.Apart from spirituality now Rishikesh is also hub for the adventure activities such as rafting, camping, trekking and bungee jumping. Rishikesh is full of tourist every time. There are also big ashrams, centers for Yoga, Meditation, Ayurvedic Massage and astrology are here. Rishikesh is also known as the white water rafting capital of India.
Two big suspension bridges play a major role (such as nerve system in body) in day- to- day life of Rishikesh. These two bridges (jhulas) are know as Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula(Named after lord Ram and his brother Lakshman, the heroes of the Ramayana, who supposedly crossed the river Ganges at Rishikesh on their way up to the hills.). Rishikesh is divided loosely in many parts such as Rishikesh, Ram Jhula (Shivanand Nagar), Muni Ki Reti, Lakshman Jhula or Tapovan and Swarg Ashram, Pashulok Barrage, Dhalwala, 14 Bigha and Shisham Jhari.From Ram Jhula one can take a boat on sharing basis or walk on the bridge to cross the river. Both sides of the bridge is always crowded with shops of cloths, holy beads, shawls, precious and semi precious stones, replicas of deities, astrological gems, Ayurvedic medicines and Vedic treatises as well as signs of marketing yoga, meditation classes and Ayurvedic massage. Other side of the bridge is known as Swarg Ashram area.
So many big ashrams are here such as Swarg Ashram, Gita bhawan and Parmarth Niketan. When you cross the river temples welcomes you with their engraved deities and music shops greets you divine sacred ragas.In evening beautiful Ganges Ceremony(Ganga Aarti) is organized at Parmarth Niketan and Triveni Ghat. The Brahmin Pundits (priests) performs Ganges Puja (ritual worship) with Vedic hymns, sound of hands clapping and the drums (tabla). Hundreds of people come to witness this Pooja and offer leaf bowls which are filled with flowers and small oil lamps to the goddess. The small sparkling lights floating lamps, river Ganges and auspicious atmosphere creates such a magnificent view and feeling that can attract anyone to join the prayer even the visitors from outside India who can't understand the vedic songs.