On the bank of Ganga, Rishikesh and Haridwar are places
visited by thousands of pilgrims every year. Haridwar is known as the place
where Ganga emerges from the mountains and flows wide and mellow in the plains
of North India. While Haridwar is a bigger city, Rishikesh has remained a
charming small town near the mountains and amidst greenery.
Overview. Haridwar can get really hot in summers, while
Rishikesh, only slightly better. Winter and monsoons are a good time to here,
but pilgrims flock to these places through the year. The Ganga flows narrow and
small in Rishikesh, but the riverbed is wide in Haridwar. A dam upstream of
Haridwar stores most of the water from the river and releases it through a
network of channels. The famous aarti at Har-ki-Pauri is conducted on the bank
of one of these channels.
Orientation. Both Haridwar and Rishikesh are less then an
hour away from Dehradun, and are separated from each other by a half hour
drive. It takes nearly eight hours to reach to either of the towns from Delhi.
Both towns are the banks of the Ganges. While Rishikesh is at the edge of a
hilly and forest terrain, Haridwar is on the plains, at the end of Shivalik
ranges. The towns are separated by thick forest that is part of Rajaji National
Frequent buses connect Delhi with Rishikesh and Haridwar.
You can commute between the two towns by buses, or more frequent shared
rickshaws called Vikram.
Things to do and places to see
Aarti in Haridwar. The aarti at the ghats of Har-ki-Pauri is
the most famous activity in Haridwar, attended by thousands of pilgrims every
evening. The location is sacred, and is said to be the place where Lord Vishnu meditated.
Mansa Devi Temple. Located on a hill just outside the town,
this is another place popular with pilgrims. There is a cable car to take you
up the temple.
Lakshman Jhula. Laxman Jhula is a small village just outside
Rishikesh, named after a hanging bridge of the same name. You can get excellent
views of the Ganga emerging from the mountains when you are standing on the
There are several Ashrams in Rishikesh where you
can learn Yoga and meditation. Shivananda Ashram, Swargashram, Gita Bhavan and
Parmarth Niketan are the most well known. Rishikesh is also known as the Yoga
Capital of the World, as people come here from every corner of the world to
Trayambakeshwar Temple. Just next to Laxman Jhula Bridge is
this 13-story temple, a well-known landmark in Rishikesh.
White Water Rafting. Rafting on the Ganga is one of the most
popular activities in Rishikesh. Many agencies conduct half-day to multi-day
rafting sessions that can be booked in Rishikesh on arrival. The multi-day sessions
often involve staying in the tents along the Ganga, and would be memorable
Nilkanth Mahadev Temple. This is a temple in the hills
adjoining Rishikesh. This can be a full day's walk from Rishikesh, and is a
popular destination for pilgrims.
Ganga Aarti. Aarti happens in the premise of Parmarth Niketan
Ashram every evening. It begins at 6pm in front of the Ashram, on the bank of
Ganga, and lasts for an hour. This is a quieter affair compared to aarti in
Rajaji National Park.
You can visit Chilla village between Rishikesh and Haridwar, which has the office of Rajaji National Park. You can go on jungle safaris from Chilla. The National Park hosts tigers and elephants, among many many more mammals and birs.
There is plenty of accommodation available in both the
towns. Most of the times in the year, except on special days and festivals, it
should not be difficult to walk in and find a place to stay.