:Rishikesh (translates - the land of the Rishis, also spelled Hrishikesh, another name for Lord Vishnu) is a holy city (population 60,000) for Hindus located in the foothills of the Himalayas, on the banks of the Ganges and surrounded by the Himalayas on three sides It is the gateway to Himalayas and it located about 25 kilometers away from another holy city, Haridwar. It is the access point for the cities that form the Chardham - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.
Legend has it that Goddess Ganga descended from Heaven but being unhappy to be on earth, she wreaked destruction till Shiva, the presiding deity of Rishikesh, held her in his matted locks, till she calmed down and agreed to flow calmly on earth.
As dawn breaks over Rishikesh devotional songs and temple bells rent the air, conches blow and devotees gather at the edge of the holy river Ganga (anglicized to Ganges) which flows through Rishikesh, with little leaf boats holding flowers and a tiny lamp, letting them drift on the river, to the sound of hymns to the holy Ganga. It is here that the river leaves the Shivalik mountains Himalayas, and flows out into the plains of northern India. Rishikesh lies essentially on the west bank of the river, with most of the ashrams on the east bank with Lakshman Jhula, a foot-bridge, or small ferries connecting the two banks. The city attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists each year, from India as well as other countries. The city has several yoga centres as Rishikesh is considered the Yoga and Meditation capital of the world, and meditation here brings one closer to attainment of salvation, or moksha, as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it.
Pilgrims carry Ganga jal (water) back to their homes all over the world. The Ganga Arati performed at dusk at the Triveni Ghat is a spectacular sight not to be missed by visitors.
Trekking and white water rafting camps are very popular with most tourists as it offers medium to rough rapids in the course of river Ganges. A wide variety of food is available in Rishikesh, but only vegetarian cuisine. Tiny pharmacies selling medication based on Ayurveda abound the narrow lanes.
Lakshman Jhoola: A suspension bridge 3 km (2 miles) north of the centre of Rishikesh where Laxman performed his Tapa (penance). Till 1889, it was just a hanging rope way without pillars and was rebuilt with iron ropes in 1939. It is believed that Lord Rama and Lakshman took a bath to wash the sin incurred by them for killing Ravana, who was a Brahmin.
Triveni Ghat: The main bathing site where the three rivers -Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati flow together. Maha aarti is performed every morning and evening when Diyas (lit candles) and flowers are floated on the river.
Neel Kanth Maha Dev Temple: Ancient temple where Lord Shiva drank the venom churned out of the cosmic oceans
Near Rishikesh is the town of Haridwar, also situated on the foothills of the Himalayas along the bank of river Ganga, and another pilgrimage destination cherished by Hindus.