If you’re thinking about visiting Rishikesh for a weekend, stop thinking about it, and book your bus ticket now! Rishikesh has an activity for every mood. Get your heart pumping on the Ganga river in an inflatable kayak, or slow down and relax with a yoga class. I’ve done a bit of both and have come up with a 3-day itinerary for travelers interested in exploring Rishikesh. I stayed at Live Free Hostel which made it easy to make the most of my weekend. Grab your best friends or tell the family to pack their bags, here we go!
Whether you’re arriving by bus, car, train, or plane; arrive early! Once you get settled into your room, put on your walking shoes and head to the Laxman Jhula Bridge. You’ll have the opportunity to visit many smaller temples as well as the 13-story Trayambakeshwar Temple.
There are plenty of souvenir shops and restaurants along the way. If you’re hungry (for food and a view), stop at Cafe Delmar/Beatles Cafe before crossing the bridge. This is an open-air cafe with tasty food & drink, an excellent view of the Ganga, and a chill vibe to settle you into vacation mode. Once you cross the bridge, go left to walk through the Trayambakeshwar Temple. Afterward, head to the right of the bridge. If you’ve got the energy and time, it’s about a 20-minute walk to Ganga Beach. Don’t forget your selfie stick ; )
Wake up for 8:30 am yoga on the rooftop, at the hostel. This will get your body limber for an afternoon of kayaking or rafting. Arpan, from Live Free Hostel, suggested I try a tandem kayak. I am so glad I did! It was absolutely exhilarating. It’s an inflatable kayak and is much easier and cheaper than regular whitewater kayaking. It’s a lot more involved than the 10 person rafts yet fun and safe for beginners. I was nervous at first, but after the half-hour lesson we had in the water, I felt confident and excited to go down the rapids. Not to mention we were provided with a wetsuit, life jacket, and helmet. There’s also an opportunity to go cliff jumping if you’re feeling extra daring!
After all of the excitement, you’ll have a chance to relax before attending the Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat. It’s nice to arrive a bit early, around 5:30 pm. Spend some time walking the sacred ghat taking in the auspicious and spiritual air. Everyone is invited to enjoy in the dance circle at the end of the ceremony. The music is provided by a 5 piece band. It’s very lively and a lot of fun to dance or clap along.
For dinner, I highly recommend you eat at Rajasthani Sweets Mishthan Bhandar. If you have to wait, you won’t regret it. Order from the Rajasthani section in the menu. There’s no way to forget the dessert, it’s conveniently located on the way in and out. Go ahead, sample a few, you’re on holiday.
Sleep well tonight, your last night in Rishikesh is an early one!
Rent a motorcycle (the most fun option), hire a taxi, or go with the hostel and see the sunrise at Kunjapuri Devi Temple. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Sati, Lord Shiva’s wife before she was reborn as Goddess Parvati. Leave the hostel at 4 am to make it up the mountain in time to see the sky grow lighter and experience the sun make its initial peek above the mountains. Chai is available for purchase to warm you up. At 1676 meters, not only do you see the first rays of light, you get a panoramic view of mountains that surround the temple. If it’s clear, you’ll even see some snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas. It is very beautiful and energizing and worth the chilly, early morning ride to the top. Additionally, going back down is a joy ride with stunning views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, farms, and forests.
Your vacation isn’t over yet! You’ll arrive back at the hostel in time for breakfast and a break before going to Vashishta cave and Shivpuri beach. Visiting Vashishta is a great way to reflect on your time in Rishikesh and offer some gratitude. This cave is where Lord Brahma’s godly son, Vashista, came to meditate. The peaceful cave and its silent surrounding area are located near River Ganga. Meditate in the cool, serene cave before walking to Shivpuri beach. This is a quiet, calming beach to swim and chill and say farewell, to Rishikesh and Mother Ganga. The shimmering sands and stunning beach are the perfect backgrounds for capturing some more photographs before returning back to the hostel to pack your bags.
If you’re taking public transit home (or to your next destination), book a later ticket, 7 or 8 pm. This way, you’ll have enough time to enjoy your day and won’t have to rush. I hope you find Rishikesh as beautiful and unique as I do. Surely the breathtaking views and clear blue Ganga will capture your heart. Thanks so much for reading this post. Peace!