Find peace and perfect your sun salutation in Rishikesh, known as India’s yoga capital. It's home to many yoga ashrams, fresh mountain air and lots of meat and alcohol-free restaurants. While spirituality is an important part of this Indian city's character, it's also a beautiful place to simply admire the scenery, with its location on the banks of the River Ganges, in the foothills of the Himalayas. There's plenty for extreme sports fans too – you can get your heart racing with white-water rafting and mountain-climbing adventures.
Hostels in Rishikesh are usually within walking distance of the main centre, making it easy to get to the ashram’s morning meditations and yoga practices. The best hostels in Rishikesh offer their own yoga classes so you can practice with fellow travellers. Stay in one of the city’s tallest buildings with views out to the mountains from its rooftop, or by the banks of the river in a quiet, natural setting. Meat is banned in Rishikesh, so expect to find delicious, freshly-cooked vegetarian dishes in Rishikesh hostels that provide meals and free breakfasts.
Rishikesh's most popular traveller hangouts are in the area around Laxman Jhula suspension bridge. You'll find cafés along the riverside, stalls selling authentic Indian food and a few international bakeries. About 3km west of the bridge is Swarg Ashram. This is home to most of the temples and ashrams, including one of the biggest in the region, Parmarth Niketan. If you head slightly out of town, you can discover some of the area’s secret beaches and quiet lunch spots.
Devoted yogis will be spoilt for choice with the many classes on offer here – you’ll see adverts everywhere you go. You could also follow in the Beatles' footsteps and visit the ashram where they did meditation training back in the 1960s. Even if you’re not a yoga fan, you can still find lots of things to do in Rishikesh. Book a river rafting adventure and see the Ganges from a different angle, or take a hike to the nearby Neer Garh Waterfall. As the day draws in, there's singing and dancing as the city’s daily mass evening prayer takes place along the waterfront.
Dehradun Airport is about 35km away from Rishikesh and has daily flights from New Delhi. From the airport, you can take a taxi or bus to the city. There’s also the option of bus travel, with trips leaving from New Delhi every day, as well as from other towns such as Haridwar. To get around town, there's a network of shared autorickshaws, and you can also hire bikes, scooters and motorcycles.