Rishikesh has something for every kind of traveller. Yoga enthusiasts from across the world flock here. Adventure junkies have enough peaks to scale and mountains to climb. For those yearning a quiet, peaceful holiday, Rishikesh is just right. Given its charm, the Uttarakhand city, by the Himalayan foothills and embanking the Ganga, teems with tourists and pilgrims round the year. But the good news is that for the kind of hotspot it is, Rishikesh is home to plenty of hotels, and there is room for travellers with all kinds of budgets. To get you started, here are five stays you might want to check into.
All rooms in Ananda afford breathtaking views and are equipped with settees, ideal to put your feet up and catch up on some reading or nurse a cuppa. Photo Courtesy: Ananda in the Himalayas
Ananda In the Himalayas is on the road to Uttarkashi. Sharing space on the 100-acre Maharaja’s Palace Estate in Narendra Nagar, this resort is situated 12,480 feet above sea level. Touted as one of the top wellness destinations in the world, Ananda is a place where your mind and body come first. Help yourself to yoga sessions, Vedanta lectures, food that is good for the gut and therapies that balance your dosha—the dynamic state of balance between the mind, body and environment. Sit in Anandmayi’s kutiya and breathe in some inner peace, take a golf class or dive into the swimming pool. Read more here.
(The Palace Estate, Narendra Nagar, Tehri Garhwal, Uttarakhand; www.anandaspa.com; Rs29,000 onwards.)
The Glasshouse on the Ganges, true to its name, is right by the Ganga, and is home to over 70 bird species . Photo Courtesy: The Glasshouse on the Ganges
The river bends around this ‘non-hotel’ hotel of Neemrana and flows north to its source, a rarity, as GM Gajendra Singh points out. The uninterrupted flow croons a gentle lullaby at night, and in the morning, it becomes a background score to the symphony of birdsong that wakes you up. The glass house on the premises is the restaurant and play area; pick a comfortable seat here to watch the world go by. Or lie in a hammock in the sun and wave to white-water rafters speeding down the rapids. At six in the evening, local boys from the nearby village sing a rustic, out-of-tune Ganga Aarti that warms the heart and calms the mind.
(Near 23rd Milestone, NH58 Rishikesh–Badrinath Road, Tehri Garhwal, Gular Dogi, Uttarakhand; www.neemranahotels.com; Rs7,500 to Rs15,000.)
Zostel’s community room is colourful and inviting. Funky artworks adorn its walls. Photo Courtesy: Zostel
Hostels are not meant only for Amsterdam and Paris. At Zostel, a mere 15 minutes from Laxman Jhula, you can take trips and treks organised by the staff or a yoga class on the terrace, watch a movie at night or jam under the stars. Above all, you’re sure to make new friends as you meet fellow backpackers and travellers, and maybe embark on a white-water-rafting tour or attend the Ganga Aarti. While private rooms are available, it’s more fun to share a bunk bed in one of the dorms. Walls covered in travel quotes, Pink Floyd posters and paintings of the Laxman Jhula, the colourful Zostel urges visitors to ‘Live it. Now.’
(NH58 Rishikesh–Badrinath Highway, Tapovan, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand; www.zostel.com; Rs499 to Rs 1,899.)
Riverside Villa, located in a residential area called Nirmal Block, is ideal for larger groups. Photo Courtesy: Riverside Villa
Step away from the traffic in Rishikesh, and the Ganga begins to gush in your ears. This Airbnb property, located near the Triveni Ghat, comes with a private river—if you don’t mind the company of some bathing buffalos. A silent meditation garden with a lily pond and a well-equipped library are also on offer. The river is a smaller distributary that overlooks green hillocks. Around midnight is the perfect time to watch the moonrise against this landscape. This is a little off-the-beaten track, so it is advisable to have a car to get into the city, but Ola and rickshaws work well too.
(Nirmal Block B, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand; www.airbnb.co.in; Rs2,308 (weekdays), Rs4,500 (weekends).)
While staying at Parmarth Niketan, attending the evening Ganga Aarti is a must. Photo Courtesy: Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Parmarth Niketan is one of the largest ashrams in India and has over 1,000 rooms. Open to people of all faiths (or no faith!), the ashram, whose name literally means ‘an abode dedicated to the welfare of all’, observes quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Every evening before sunset, hundreds of people from across the country and the world gather at the Ganga Ghat, in front of Parmarth Niketan, to celebrate Ganga Aarti. This light ceremony is filled with song, prayer, ritual and a palpable sense of the divine. As the bright yellow sun dips into the water and the reflection of its rays brings tears to the eyes, you are filled with a deep sense of bliss, reverence and spiritual fulfilment.
(Main Market Road, Near Ram Jhula, Swarg Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand; www.parmarth.org; Rs600 to Rs2,700)
is a Mumbai-based freelance food and travel writer who gets severe food swings. She Instagrams as @dalalphorum.
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