I started my journey to Rishikesh at 5 AM when I and my friends were slouching on the tempo traveller’s seats. As the sun heightened and rays fell on our faces, it brought new energy. After that, my 6-hour long tour from Delhi to Rishikesh had the period where we all, filled with immense enthusiasm, danced and sang at the top of our voices. And when overwhelmed by our zest, we sat quietly looking out of our windows.
As we reached Rishikesh, the touristy vibes kicked in. Treading through the steep terrains of this peaceful town in Uttarakhand towards our camp was an all-new experience for me. The life of a small town is completely different from the pacing city life, something that I learned while walking up towards my camp, and finally, I realized that I had left the intense urbanity behind for the weekend. We sat under the clear night sky to watch the stars, rested with a cup of tea on the rocks along the streams of river Ganga flowing over the small cliffs, and enjoyed the bonfire while camping in Rishikesh.
Even though we had opted for luxury camping in Rishikesh just to be on the safer side, it wasn’t just about dancing and singing around the bonfire. My intentions were to explore the town to the core and here are ten things that created my Rishikesh travel travelogue: –
1. Explore your spiritual side with the temple visit
When I started my tour of the town, I began by exploring its spiritual side. Temple visit was the first thing I did as Rishikesh is an abode of some of the very beautiful shrines. Neelkanth Mahadev temple, one of the famous temples of Rishikesh, sitting on a hill at the height of 1330 meters, is the place from where I initiated my temple tour and then moved down to seeing Bhootnath temple, Trayambakeshwar temple, Raghunath Temple, Iskon Temple and many more. The aura of these temples and the calmness that fills them made me connect with the holiness of Rishikesh.
2. Go river rafting and cliff jumping
Rishikesh is synonymous with rafting. The thought of indulging in this adventure sport, which was an inclusion in my camping package in Rishikesh, and the rumbling of rapids gave me jitters. But when I saw people rafting through these rapids and hollering with the adrenaline rush, I said to myself, “you can do it, just go for it”. I started from Shivpuri for 18Km long rafting, crossed the spine-tingling rapids and did body surfing. What an experience it was! Had I skipped on this my camping trip in Rishikesh i.e. rafting and cliff jumping, I wouldn’t have experienced the adrenaline rush that I did.
3. Witness the glorious Ganga Aarti
There could have been no better way of spending the evenings at Rishikesh than witnessing Ganga Aarti. At the time of the aarti, I saw people engrossed in the hymns sung by a group of priests in a rhythmic way. Hear it and you’ll feel like detaching myself from all the worldly thoughts and surrender to the reverence that resonates at the time of aarti. Followed by the Ganga aarti, my camping in Rishikesh at night was all about discussing the religious fervour that encapsulated us all at the time of aarti.
4. Unwind on the banks of river Ganga
I didn’t go for beach camping in Rishikesh but I did spend a substantial amount of time on the banks of river Ganga. Sitting on the white sand of the banks and witnessing the sunset was such a delight. The sight of the sunset and orange sky was worth capturing and became my Facebook cover photo and remained one for a very long time. It’s just one of those times that I’ll fondly look back upon again and again.
5. Walkthrough the nature trail
My camping trip in Rishikesh did not have an out-and-out river side stay but it had a stream of water flowing right in the front of its entrance. Along that stream was a path that had lush green flora covering its edges. It was like a nature trail that I walked through early in the morning, inhaling the fresh air, the fragrance of colourful flowers and petrichor. Rishikesh has enormous natural beauty dwelling there. How could I have missed it? On the trek of this nature trail, I got to capture the glimpse of the natural beauty of Rishikesh. I would say that my camp offered the best stay in Rishikesh as it was surrounded by natural beauty. Don’t worry, there are a lot of nature trails; if you love wandering, you’ll find it.
6. Get up and close to waterfalls
To reach the waterfalls in Rishikesh, I had to trek, which brought another opportunity to explore the pristine natural beauty of Rishikesh. Like rafting during my camping trip in Rishikesh, this was quite a riveting affair. The idea of seeing the foamy waterfalls cascading down the hills pushed me to walk the steep terrains heading towards the waterfalls. I saw Neer Garh waterfall, Patna waterfall, and Phool Chatti waterfall and had a fun time treading along these waterfalls. If you are heading to Rishikesh during the summer months, soaking yourself in the waterfalls is a must!
7. Take a dip in the holy Ganges
River Ganga is a sacred river that’s worshipped by people all over India. Worshippers visit Rishikesh throughout the year to take a bath in the holy water of Ganges. Thinking of the fact that the river is revered by every single person of India and people from far off places come to bathe in river Ganga, not taking a dip in the river was inescapable. Bodysurfing while rafting during the camping trip in Rishikesh is an adventure in itself.
8. Learn the art of staying in good health
Rishikesh is known as the ‘Yoga Capital of India’ so how could I miss out on it. While there are several places to stay in Rishikesh, I chose to go to Sivananda Ashram. While practising yoga there, which is based around postures, breathing, meditation, relaxation, and diet, I learned how it benefits our mind and body and helps us heal from within. Had it not been Sivananda, I might have gone for luxury camping in Rishikesh that offers yoga as the part of its package.
9. Shop till you drop
One of the reasons I had opted to keep my Rishikesh camping price budgeted is that I wanted to shop. Antique jewellery, handicrafts like diaries, and wooden showpieces, jholas, table cloth, cushion covers, and stones and marbles formed a big chunk of my shopping list. Apart from this, I visited Geeta Bhawan from where I bought sarees, agarbattis made of sandal and rose, some ayurvedic products like Indian gooseberry candies and herbal soaps, and suits and shawls with Kashmiri embroidery. Honestly, for a shopaholic like me, this camping trip in Rishikesh doubled up as a shopping vacay as well.
10. Have a chilled out time at the cafes
Shopping made me hungry and tired. However, as we crossed the Lakshman Jhoola, there were a number of fabulous cafes which were there in the offing. I indeed wanted to have the taste of the famous Uttarakhand cuisines, but sitting and chilling out at the open cafes of Rishikesh was on my to-do list as well. The café I sat at was an awesome place. It was an open café with a very relaxing atmosphere. The food was sumptuous as well!
Rishikesh holds a special place in Uttarakhand tourism and based on my personal experience, I wholeheartedly agree. Now, while searching for comprehensive Rishikesh travel packages, I came across packages that offered a stay at luxury camps in Shivpuri in Rishikesh as well as riverside camping trips in Rishikesh. I chose a package that enabled me to experience and enjoy all the above.
– Mayuresh Joshi, Digital Marketer