Three days in Rishikesh

Rishikesh

We left the busy Indian capital of Delhi to move to the more peaceful northern state of Uttarakhand to get to the small town of Rishikesh best known as the Gateway to the Himalayas.  This charming hill station is perfectly located at the foothill of the world’s largest mountain range and sitting on the bank of the holly Ganges River.  For many Indians, it is one of the most important pilgrimage sight in the region, with a variety of religious temples, as well as being the first stop of the Char Dham Yatra Sacred Journey.  As for the international travellers, it has become a sought after destination, ever since it was visited by the Beatles some decades ago.  Rishikesh is also considered the World’s Capital of Yoga with plenty of ashrams, meditation and fitness centres to be found.  The following is an overview of the three days spent discovering this fabulous mountain town , exploring some of its most important sites such as the two amazing bridges, Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula, the various temples and the Ghats and hindu ceremonies next to the river Ganges.


Topics

  1. Rishikesh day 1: arrival, Haridwar Junction, Ganesha Inn, Lakshman Jhula bridge, night ceremony, night views
  2. Rishikesh day 2: Lucky restaurant, Ram Jhula, local market, Landsowne
  3. Rishikesh day 3: Duraj Coffee, Ram Jhula bridge, Ganga view restaurant, Honey Hut, Lakshman Jhula bridge
  4. About the Ganesha Inn Hotel

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Rishikesh day 1

We woke up before 6 this morning, as we had to catch an early train to the North.  We had a small issue at checkout where they ask us to pay the three nights we already booked and paid.  After we managed to retrieve the hotel voucher from my emails, we hit the road to the New Delhi Railway station arriving only a few minutes before the train departure.  We got the first class ticket this time (as it was the  only option left for that date) and it’s definitely a whole different experience.  Indeed not only there is a lot more space, with very comfortable reclining chair, but they were constantly serving food and beverages, starting by a nice cup of tea, followed by a bowl of corn flakes with warm milk, then the main omelette dish with rotis, and followed by coffee and juices.  This comfortable environment combined with great service, enabled me to catch up on some overdue Funky India articles.

Ganesha Inn Room View

We arrived to Haridwar Junction surprisingly precisely on time (which can be quite rare for the huge Indian railways).  We quickly went to the nearby bus station politely avoiding the numerous rickshaws and taxi drivers with their astronomical fares.  A few moments later we were sitting comfortably in the back of the crowded bus heading to Rishikesh and enjoying the views of the surrounding mountains.  The town is located less than 30 kilometres away but took us close to an hour to reach our destination.  At the Rishikesh main bus station we took a large shared rickshaw to get to our hotel.  We arrived at the Ganesha Inn at midday and we were automatically impressed by the views from the ground floor, until the owner invited us to check the rooftop balcony and the famous 401 room (if you can afford it, it is by far the best room out there).  We have booked the standard room through Agoda, but after a glimpse of the presidential room and it’s amazing view from its private balcony, we just couldn’t resist and opted for a negotiated upgrade.

Rishikesh Lakshman Jhula bridge

Soon after we descended by the narrow street of Rishikesh, way up to the town’s most symbolic Lakshman Jhula bridge, where we sat on a bench observing the locals, tourists and the monkeys.  Captivated by the colourful street action, we ended up spending a good portion of the afternoon, enjoying the sun and looking at the cheeky monkeys hanging from the entrance tower and various cables of the bridge. By mid afternoon we decided to head back up, stopping in a small charming restaurant on the way, which offered unprecedented views of the Ganges river and the surrounding.  It is the perfect place to hang out around a cup of tea or have a nice meal.  The place has a Beatles theme, and had been renovated since the last time I came, with a new design, much cleaner but with the same large view of the mountains and the surroundings.

Rishikesh night ceremony

After our late lunch, we came back to base and had a little snooze.  As dusk, I went for a solo walk around town, chatting with the local merchants before crossing the bridge towards the eastern Ghats and assisting to the night ceremony on the beach, right on the bank of the sacred river Ganges on the backdrop of the magnificent sunset.  It was a very Zen and peaceful experience, with a mix of chants, bathing and traditional music.

By night fall, I was back at the hotel, spending the last moments, enjoying the views from our room balcony and being grateful to be able to experience such an enchanting Indian destination.

Rishikesh day 2

I woke up from my partner’s excitement of having a new guest, a small monkey visiting our balcony.  I barely saw his tail before he magically disappeared towards the neighbouring building.  Soon after we were heading down the village, crossed the bridge and settle for the Lucky restaurant, where we had a lovely breakfast platter while enjoying the view of the Ganges.  After the meal, we went down the eastern side of Rishikesh, until we reached the second pedestrian bridge known as Ram Jhula, passing a variety of animals including dog, ponies and monkeys.

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The Ram Jhula bridge is an attraction in its own rights , with a mix of fish food vendors, local and international tourists, motorcycles and orange dressed Brahmans.  Back on the western side of town, we passed through a small local market, where we bought some souvenirs and stopped for a refreshment break, before getting back on the main road, from where we caught  a 5INR rickshaw that took us to the heart of Landsowne.  In town we went to the bank (as there are no ATM in Rishikesh) and got back to base taking two other rickshaws, the first up to the Ram Jhula bridge and the second to the top of Rishikesh.  Back at the Hotel Ganesha Inn, we chilled on the balcony, before taking a an afternoon nap.  As you may see, this was by far the most relaxing part of our Funky India trip, a bit of peace in between the  more hectic cities of new Delhi and Agra.

Later that afternoon, we went for a lunch/dinner meal at the Pizza Italiano place in front of our hotel, before heading to the Ganges river, to assist once again at the religious ceremony.  Soon after nightfall, we had a walk through the narrow street next to the bridge, before getting back to our room with its magnificent views and enjoy a nice cup of comforting chai.

Rishikesh day 3

We woke up relatively early that morning and soon after we went for a small walk around town, before stopping at the constantly busy Duraj Coffee and its spectacular view of the Lakshman Jhula bridge and the Ganges river.  The food and the service was a bit overrated, and a typical tourist hangout, but still a good spot to get some sunshine and enjoy the laidback Rishikesh lifestyle passing by.

After breakfast we came back to the hotel and spent some time catching up on some web task (we had complementary internet and wifi at the Hotel Ganesha Inn) including booking our last night of our Funky India Trip in Mumbai.

Market next to Ram Jhula bridge

Half noon we decided to hit the road, and jumped into a 5 INR multi person rickshaw up to the Ram Jhula bridge.  We soon realized that it must be a special day for Hindus as the bridge was packed with local tourist.   We dropped some postcards at the post office, crossed the bridge and only then, by the bank of the river, did we find some peace, with cows and ponies resting on the  greyish sand.  We walked back on the Eastern bank of the Ganges, passing the various temple, ashrams and meditation centres, until we reached the Rishikesh beach, where we stopped at the Ganga view restaurant for lunch, which as its name suggest offers a close up view of the river, the bridge and the other side of town with its boutiques and houses hanging on cliff tops.  Quite a remarkable view and with the food quite good as well (we shared the special Ganges thali), it is definitely a place I would recommend.  It even had a lounge section where guest can sit on the carpeted floor surrounded by colourful pillows.

Lakshman Jhula bridge

Early afternoon we were back at the hotel, sunbathing from the balcony while enjoying the Ganges flowing by.  A quick power nap and we were back on the streets of town where our first stop was the modern and very clean Honey Hut, a unique Health cafe which as its name suggest, offers a wide selection of natural honey products including sweats, teas and coffees.  With our sweet tooth satisfied we headed once again to the Lakshman Jhula bridge hopping to get on a boat for a river tour .  However  as we enquired, we realized that the option offered was by no mean good value for money (250INR for 2 minutes and 1500INR for a 25 minutes ride) and we decided to go back to our favourite chilling spot, the western entrance of the bridge.  If you love monkeys, it is definitely the place to be, as there is no other place where those funny animals with human traits interact so naturally interacts with the environment.   Some are acrobats, some are mothers carrying their babies , other fatter elders, but all of them are always very hungry, knowing from a distance if someone has any food.  We managed to get some pretty nice shots and footage right on the bridge, while giving bananas to the smaller monkeys.

At night fall, we ordered a vegetarian (all the town is strictly vegetarian) from the joint across our hotel, and spent our last night contemplating the view from our balcony, that we will be soon missing.

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About Ganesha Inn Hotel

Monkey on the balcony of the Ganesha Inn Hotel

The Ganesha Inn is one of the best value for money hotels in Rishikesh.  It is centrally located on one of the highest part of town, only a short walk to the sought after cafes and boutiques, as well as to one of the town’s key attractions, the Lakshman Jhula Bridge.  The hotel’s biggest asset is by far its magnificent views of the Ganges River and mountains packed with various temples and ashrams, which can be seen as soon as you enter from the reception floor.  We originally booked the standard room but we had to upgrade to the presidential option (room 101) once we saw it with its private balcony.  The top floor 401 room is also worth considering if it’s available and you have the budget.  As for the standard of the rooms, they are nothing special, but nothing to complain, being very clean.  Finally both the owner and manager and all the other day and night staff where very polite and helpful with any request we had.   The Ganesha Inn offers free wifi and computer with internet on the ground floor, which is always a nice bonus.  I would definitely recommend the hotel and hope I will have the chance to enjoy it once again someday.

Book a room at the Hotel Ganesha Inn, best prices guaranteed.

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