Sightseeing in Rishikesh. Part I

Lakshman Jhula and Ram Jhula

Some people call Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula the districts of Rishikesh while others consider that it comprises separate villages located near the city on the Ganges. Whatever it is, this place is worth visiting. And the main sightseeing attractions of it are the suspension bridges over the sacred river. In fact these bridges gave this area its name.
Ram Jhula is translated from Sanskrit as “the cradle of Rama.” For this reason, the bridge and its surrounding area derive their name. The legend says that in ancient times this place was visited by gods and great sages who had been living here. And in the last century this place was visited by the great gurus and the yoga teacher, Swami Sivananda. In Ram Jhula was built one of the largest ashrams dedicated to Swami which became a place of pilgrimage for people all over the world.
Lakshman Jhula – a cradle of the heroic brother Rama – Lakshman. It stretches across two kilometers. Foreign tourists and pilgrims like to stop in this quiet and cozy area. Because of this there are many hostels and cozy hotels. The cafes serve not only Indian but also European dishes.
But the most important thing in Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula are the graceful suspension bridges across the Ganges. It is nice to feast one’s eyes across the scenery, enjoy the water coolness and feel how inside you something light and new that can change your whole life.

Triveni Ghat

Triveni Ghat is located on the banks of the Ganges and is known as an important place for bathing in Rishikesh. This is a place through which three of the most sacred rivers of India flow: Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. It is believed that those who dip into the water near the Ghat wash away all their sins and free their souls from bad karma because the water here has a strong purifying power. Near Ghat there is a magnificent statue of Shiva which is an impressive sight, especially during the monsoon when the Siva becomes half-submerged in water.
Every day, morning and evening, thousands of pilgrims are dipped into the water of the sacred place, then enjoy Maha Arathi (ritual worship Mother Ganges). And besides, on Ghat it is nice to just sit and enjoy the cool river breeze.

Ganga Aarti at Triveni Ghat

Ganga Aarti at the Triveni Ghat is also called Maha Aarti (Great Basin). This is an evening prayer on the banks of the Ganges River and it is one of the major events on the Ghat which attracts a large number of devotees and visitors.
Aarti is accompanied with chanting of bhajans and sounds of drums and bells. People make wishes and then light candles and put them in flower-filled leaf boats and release them into the water. Hundreds of lights twinkle in the evening light and create a magnificent view. This ritual is in praise of Mother Ganga.

Swarg Ashram

On the east bank of the Ganges, close to Lakshman Jhula Bridge there is a place called Swarg Ashram. This is a small group of different ashrams which are closely situated next to each other. Most of these Ashrams offer yoga courses and spiritual learning and also are well-known among tourists. There are ancient temples with beautiful carved statues, cozy restaurants with vegetarian cuisine and small shops with souvenirs and clothing.

Tryambakeshvar Temple

Tryambakeshvar Temple, dedicated to the three-eyed Lord Shiva, is one of the most famous temples in Rishikesh. This grand 13-storey high building stands on the banks of the Ganges in close vicinity to Lakshman Jhula.
Unlike other temples, which are dedicated to a single deity, this holy shrine praises of all the Hindu gods and goddesses. A huge flow of pilgrims and visitors is observed here during the month of Sawan and Mahashivratri festival.
In addition to its religious significance, the temple is also famous for its magnificent view over the area: from the top floor of the building you can enjoy a magnificent sunset over the majestic Himalayas.

Bharat Mandir Temple

Bharat Mandir is one of the most ancient temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It was installed in the 12th century by the Adiguru Shankaracharya and it is situated in the heart of the town on the banks of the Ganges. The temple was founded on the sacred day «Basant Panchami» and is a very bright religious festival with a lot of tourists and pilgrims also known as Spring Festival. The temple sanctum houses an exquisite idol of Lord Vishnu and its uniqueness lies in the fact that it was carved from a single black stone, which is called Saligram.
Every year the Saligram is taken to Mayakund for a holy bath and then taken back to the temple after a procession. According to legends, if a devotee on Akshya Tritiya takes 108 parikramas (rounds) of Shri Hrishikesh Narayan (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) then all his wishes and dreams come true.
Near the temple there is an age-old tree, or rather, three woods, which are the combination of banyan, ficus and bilva. Underneath this tree is a broken statue of Buddha, dating back to the reign of Ashoka.
The temple complex has an interesting museum that is stocked with ceramics, coins and other artefacts found during excavations. There are sculptures of Yakshini, Yaksha and the four-armed Vishnu.
Owing to its religious and cultural relevance, Bharat Mandir is a popular place among devotees, historians and archaeologists.

Gita Bhavan

Gita Bhavan is one of the oldest temple complexes in Rishikesh. It is situated on the banks of the River Ganges and is dedicated as a museum for Hindu religious literature storage and its walls keep a lot of ancient books from the Vedas to the Puranas, epics and legends.
Bhavan is a large complex consisting of several discourse halls and rooms where visitors can stay overnight for free.

The temple columns are unique because there are many engraved scenes and writings of the popular epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Many people come here to meditate and attend religious discourses (Satsangs). In Bhavan guests can enjoy delicious vegetarian food at reasonable prices. It also has an Ayurvedic department where using Himalayan herbs the different medicines are prepared.
One of the most revered attractions of this place is a centuries-old banyan tree. It is believed that under this tree famous saints (such as Swami Ramtirth) made their repentance.

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