So Rishikesh is known as the yoga capital of the world. And you are all excited to head there and immerse yourself in the experience. Planning for such a trip is part of that experience too and this website hopes to help you along, so that your trip to Rishikesh is as magical as all that you may have heard.
Or fancy staying in anashram in Rishikesh and immersing yourself completely in the yoga culture? Or perhaps indulge in some ayurvedic spa treatments? This quaint little town will be the perfect place, with more ashrams and spas than you can visit.
So how do you estimate how much time to allocate for Rishikesh then? Not quite so easy to answer until you are here and get a feel of the town. But knowing a little more than what Lonely Planet and many other websites tell you about Rishikesh will hopefully give you a better idea. So where do we start?
First of all understand what Rishikesh is NOT. Despite of being a touristy town, it is not a modern Indian city with luxurious or good class hotels. If you are prepared to pay quite a bit, these better places to sleep do exist. But the bulk of accomodations are simple guesthouses, although these days the standard of cleanliness is improving. However this does not mean that it is a cheap town. In fact, many guesthouses may cost more than those cheapies you find in Delhi, especially during high season.
It is not a town with clubs and drinking places because it is a holy city and therefore alcohol is banned and restaurants all serve pure vegetarian food. There are a few exceptions to the rules but you would have to know where these rules are bent behind the curtains. But what better chance than now to give up your vices? Why pay for detox programmes when you get one free here? This does not mean it is a boring, party free town. Some cafes do organise concert nights so you can enjoy your chai and ayurvedic vegetarian thali to some groovy music and hang out like a bohemian-post-modern-hippie-wannabe.
As much as it is a holy town with thousands (or millions?) of local pilgrims coming through every year, the main tourist areas in Rishikesh are not as peaceful as all those photos of the Ganges seem to be showing you. The truth is, it is near impossible to find total silence in India, and Rishikesh is not an exception. So bring your earplugs if you must and choose the right places to stay. But all in, if you can find that inner peace, it is not that hard to feel blissed out in Rishikesh. Or at the very least, become at ease with yourself. Remember, focus on the nice things, everything else can wait.
Is it a dangerous town to visit? Well, only if you do stupid things like wondering alone in the forest and getting yourself lost, day dream all the time instead of paying attention to things around you like the traffic, cows and monkeys(!), walking home late alone in the dark and quiet parts, getting yourself caught in strange money or sex related conversations (come on, know who you are talking to!), etc. There are seriously more dangerous towns in the world than Rishikesh. In fact, ask the people who have been here and they will tell you how safe it generally is, even for solo, female travellers.
If you are looking for an enriching, spiritual and fun experience while practising hard at your yoga and meditation everyday, Rishikesh is undoubtedly one of the most memorable places in the world to experience just that, and without breaking the bank too.