India is a diverse country and is very famous for meditation. Almost anywhere you go there are signs about it or even people meditating.
Some places are designated meditation centers and offer accommodations and courses on different types of meditation. One of the most famous centers for meditation is Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is a Holy city in the northern India state of Uttarakhand. It is known as the “City of Divine”, a land of sages. and is situated on the banks of Holy river Ganges (Ganga in Hindi).
It is famous for its Ghats on the river Ganges, sacred temples and spiritual ashrams where people practice Yoga and Meditation. Seekers come from all over India and the world to partake in the rich offerings of Rishikesh. It is truly a hub for yoga and spiritual meditation retreats.
Rishikesh and the River Ganges
The Ganges (Ganga) River passes through Rishikesh and is one of the main attractions there. It is the most famous river in India, being 1,560 miles (2,510 km) long. It starts in the Himalayas and continues along, emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
The river is ruled or overseen by the Godess Ganga Ma and this is what makes the river Holy. People come from all over the world to see the Ganga and even take a Holy dip in it. To bathe in the river is said to be purifying and can cleanse impurities as well as bring well-being and benefits. Many bring flower garlands to place in the river as an offering to Ganga Ma.
The river starts in the Himalaya Mountains in northern Uttarakhand state. The source is a subglacial meltwater cave at the base of the Himalayan glacier known as Gangotri. Gangotri itself is a small town and a sacred place for Hindu pilgrimage. It is a very exciting adventure to go on a journey to Gangotri.
To pay hommage to the Godess Ganga Ma in Rishikesh they perform a Ganga Aarti fire worship every evening as an offering to Her. People come from all over to see it and it is a wonderful colorful event/ceremony.
Meditation in Rishikesh
Rishikesh is a beautiful location and this Hindu pilgrimage site rests peacefully on both sides of the sacred Ganges river. With the natural atmosphere, auspicious surroundings, river and mountains what else can one expect but to make a strong bond with nature and himself.
Many people come to Rishikesh for meditation teaching and practice and the most notable places for this are the Ashrams. Thousands of famous spiritual personalities have selected this place for their meditation and people are attracted every year to Rishikesh for spiritual relief, peace, learning yoga, adventure and to take a dip in the river for salvation.
It is believed that by meditation in Rishikesh one can get “Moksha” (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth).
For meditation you need a quiet and serene place and you will find many places like that in Rishikesh. Sitting near Ganga river is so serene.
One great place is the Triveni ghat, a place where you can sit near the river on stairs and can feel the water stream, cool breeze and meditative sound of the water.
Meditation is that which gives you deep rest. Meditation is an activity in which the practitioner just sits and allows the mind to dissolve and find peace.
Meditation is a simplified activity which can easily be practiced by all. The rest in meditation is deeper than the deepest sleep. When the mind becomes free from agitation, is calm and serene and at peace, meditation happens.
As we say there are many good places in Rishikesh to meditate. Some places you may choose are: a few kilometers ahead of Laxman jhula where there are ganga river banks. They are mostly empty and provide a good atmosphere for meditation.
If you need a closed room for meditation you may also look for hotels near the river. There are some meditation schools also if you are looking for guidance.
Lecture or Discussion with a Guru
It is popular in Rishikesh to seek out a Guru (Spiritual Leaders). Many visitors from foreign countries are eager to learn and know about Hinduism when they come to this holy area. Some Guru’s are there and from them one can have a small discussion or lecture on Hinduism. Prior appointment is required for this.
Rishikesh is now world famous as the ‘Yoga Capital of the world’.
Accomodations in Rishikesh
Many people who come to Rishikesh are in search of yoga and meditation schools and classes. These are available and the Ashrams are so popular for today’s seekers. They provide both rooms and classes and have a great vibration and community of like-minded people.
Rishikesh boasts one of the world’s largest groups of ashrams, loosely defined as spiritual retreats. When you bunk on site at the Ashram the day begins with a 5 a.m. call to mediation followed by a group meal or sunrise yoga class. Other activities might include more yoga, some chanting, lectures and more group meals.
- Be sure to see our Meditation Retreats on the Home page
When you stay in the ashram you can eat satwik (organic) food, take part in ashram activities, and listen to the lectures on Hinduism and other various topics of interest. These might include how to live a peaceful life, help the needful, help in ashram work and even spend time with children and locals.
3 Popular Meditation Ashrams in Rishikesh
Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Parmarth Niketan is one of the more authentic ashrams in Rishikesh and is located on the banks of the holy Ganges river. It is the biggest ashram in the area and has 1,000 rooms on its sprawling eight acre campus.
It has various rates depending on the standard of accommodations and view and offers basic shared rooms without internet for as little as $12.
It allows stays of up to 15 days and the price includes two yoga classes and three meals daily. The ashram also runs an extensive program of yoga, Vedic heritage and spirituality, as well as teacher training courses.
Outside visitors are welcome to attend daily yoga and meditation classes and all they ask for is a donation. The Parmarth Niketan is a picturesque Ashram and its evening Ganga aarti is popular.
It also hosts the International Yoga Festival coming up in March.
Sometimes the heating and hot water can be inconsistent so keep this in mind between November and February.
Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh
Another of India’s top yoga and meditation centers is Sivananda Ashram, which was founded by Swami Sivananda and is run by the Divine Life Society. Swami Sivananda is one of the greatest Yoga masters of this century and he is also a founder of Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.
Sivananda ashram is situated on the banks of the holy river Ganga, surrounded by the foothills of Great Himalayan Mountains, which makes it one of the most serene place to practice Yoga and meditation.
The teachings are based around the main concepts of Sivananda and include both yoga and meditation.
- Be sure to see our Books on Meditation in the Books Section
Free yoga and meditation classes are offered daily but accommodations (which are also provided free of charge, along with food) are only available to serious spiritual seekers who need to apply at least a month in advance.
Swami Sivananda Ashram is located in the village of Netala, 8 kilometers north of Uttar Kashi on the Gangotri Road (towards the Ram Jhula).
Sivananda Kutir offers Teacher Training Courses (TTC) and Sadhana Intensive course from April to November each year.
Sadhana Mandir and Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama Ashram in Rishikesh
Sadhana Mandir Ashram, founded by Swami Rama in 1966, is situated on the banks of the Ganges. It is an international retreat center for sincere aspirants to practice meditation.
The Ashram has a spiritually elevating environment, away from life’s hustle and bustle. It is set in the foothills of the Himalayas, surrounded by beautiful flowering gardens, mango trees and a lotus pond.
Its quiet and serene atmosphere make it an ideal setting for meditation practice.
It conducts many meditation programs, starting from weekend retreats and going to 4-10 days & 10-17 days.
They offer single and double rooms available with 3 vegetarian meals.
Hotels in Rishikesh
Rishikesh has various kinds of hotels that offer accommodations. Many are located by the Lakshman Jhula (bridge).
The prices vary between the hotels and they offer from simple to the more luxurious, depending on the price. They offer things like scenic views and rooftop restaurants and the food is great too.
There are accommodations in all price ranges with features like air-conditioning, heaters and flat-screen cable TV. You can also find a private bathroom which includes a shower. Some have dry cleaning and laundry service along with helpful desk service.
And some of them offer great locations like a few steps away from Swarg Ashram, near Lakshman Jhula and by Maharishi Yogi Ashram on the banks of the mighty Ganges.
Some available hotels with prices are:
- Kunwar Residency $34
- Trihari $22
- Hotel Ganga Kinare $111
- Bunk Stay Rishikesh $14
- Yog Niketan By Sanskriti $84
- Divine Resort Laxman Jhula $110
Some are situated by the river with easy access to the shore and also great views.
During peak season: May-June, October-January and in festival days it’s good to book hotel rooms in advance.
Camping in Rishikesh
Camping is a famous weekend activity, so many temporary camps are established near Rishikesh. You can enjoy the nature, river and also have a small trek from the camp.
It can be done in the jungle or the river bank, and some camps provide group activities. There’s no age limit for camping and the best times to stay in a camp are October to May.
There are several options in choosing a camp like budget camps, Luxury camps or deluxe camps.
The best camps in Rishikesh are: Camp Aquaforest, Camp Rapidfire and Camp Gold Coast.
Food in Rishikesh
Rishikesh has a varied and impressive food culture, and a good time can be had in the local cafes.
Some cafes have raw settings and a view of the Ganges, and foods vary from Pastas to Dal Fry. Most of the cafes and restaurants of Rishikesh are budget-friendly and provide free wi-fi.
Some popular cafes in Rishikesh are: Little Buddha Cafe, The 60’s Cafe, Bistro Nirvana and Ellbee Ganga View.
Entertainment in Rishikesh
Rishikesh is mostly a day town and most people do activities during the day that leaves them tired by night and they stay at home in the hotel or Ashram.
Whether it’s yoga, meditation, action sports or just sightseeing the day activities keep most people busy and so they don’t really miss nightclubs or lounges.
But if you are a bit of a night owl and need to go out there are a few things you can try to make your vacation memorable.
Ganga Aarti – The Ganga Aarti is the evening Fire worship made to the Godess Ganga Ma at the river. Rishikesh really has two sides, one is alive and vibrant while the other is tranquil.
Many people attend to see the Ganga Aarti in Rishikesh and witness the vibrant Hindu culture and customs.
Rishikesh Ganga aarti time: 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Ganga arti in Rishikesh is at the Triveni Ghat.
The movie theater – If you are a movie buff you can head to the Rama Palace and watch the latest Bollywood or Hollywood movie.
Cocktails – There is also the Cocktail Plaza, about 9 kilometers from the city center, for enjoying a variety of spirits and regional meals with your loved ones.
Peace by the river – Rishikesh is set on the banks of River Ganga, so if you want you can simply spend time seeking solace there.
Rishikesh and The Beatles
It is written that Rishikesh is popular today because of the Beatles visit there. Rishikesh has been a spiritual center for a long time but the Beatles trip really put it on the map.
In 1968 they went to India to see Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian Guru who was becoming well known for teaching Transcendental Meditation (TM). He was a 47 year old man with long hair and a beard and was lecturing at colleges and universities around the United States and Europe about TM.
Young people were becoming attracted to his simple notion of using meditation to elevate your consciousness. The Beatles met him in London when he spoke and he invited them all to a ten-day summer conference in Bangor, a small coastal city in Wales. It was there that the four men became devotees.
They then spent a few months in early 1968 at Maharishi’s ashram in Rishikesh. Out of that trip came their epic White Album and also a seismic shift in the popular understanding of Eastern spirituality, meditation and music. Ever since that time Rishikesh has been very popular and a magnet for spiritual seekers.
Rishikesh is a lovely town and has so much to offer for all types of enthusiasts. There is a beautiful nature setting, nice Ashrams and hotels (or camps) for accommodation, and many, many things to spend your time on.
Yoga and meditation are the inseparable soul of Rishikesh and you can find numerous Yoga and meditation centers there. You can just walk in and embrace the peace and tranquility inside you, which is for sure the best way to rejuvenate yourself in Rishikesh!
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Rishikesh and if you have any questions or suggestions please add them in the comments section down below.