Rishikesh is known for its ashrams, temples, and yoga, but it also offers some of North India's best outdoor activities. With two days in town, you'll be able to experience the best of Rishikesh's spiritual side and its outdoor adventures, too. Here's how.
Day 1: Spiritual Highlights
Morning: Start your morning off with a yoga class (this is the yoga capital of the world, after all). Afterward, grab breakfast and make your way over to the old Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ashram, known locally as the Beatles Ashram, in honor of its most famous guests.
Afternoon: In the afternoon, take a trip out to the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple on the outskirts of town. You’ll need to take a taxi to get here, and tours with guides are available—never a bad idea if you want to learn about the spiritual significance of the place and avoid any faux pas.
Night: When night begins to fall, head over to the Parmarth Niketan Ashram on the eastern banks of the Ganges for the evening aarti (prayer) ceremonies, which involve beautiful ritual singing and fire offerings. As with the Mahadev Temple, you’ll get the most out of your experience by going with a guide, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with local spiritual practices.
Day 2: Outdoor Adventure
Morning: Rishikesh has long been known as a whitewater-rafting hot spot, and taking a trip down the rapids of the Ganges River is a highlight for many guests. Just make sure to prebook as this experience is popular, and people from all over India come to Rishikesh specifically to raft.
Afternoon: Don't bother drying off after your raft trip; instead, head up to the beautiful Neer Waterfalls, set in the forest a short drive from Rishikesh. Accessible via a short hike, this waterfall is a great place to cool off, with cascading water leading into a shallow pool. Guided tours often include visits with locals in nearby Neer Village.
Night: In the evening, head back to your hotel to clean up before making your way back out for dinner. There are all sorts of great spots to eat in this vegetarian city, from hippie backpacker cafés to the famous Indian fare at Chotiwala. Consider joining a food tour if you want to try as many local treats as possible.