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Places to Visit in the Area

Haridwar

T
he pilgrim city of Haridwar is located on the Ganges about 25 kilometres south of Rishikesh. It is known as the gateway to the shrines of the high Himalayas, and has itself a number of well-known temples and Ashrams. The noted bathing ghat, Hari-ki-Pairi, is also the main location for a Ganges bath every twelve years during the Kumbha Mela festival.

Lakshman Jhula

Is a township located 2 kilometres north of the Sivananda Ashram at a site on the Ganges where Lord Rama's brother Lakshman was said to have meditated and done austerities in ancient times. There is a footbridge across the river and a number of temples and Ashrams in the general area.

Neelkanth Temple

On a mountain on the eastern side of the Ganges, opposite the Sivananda Ashram is a very ancient and famous temple devoted to the worship of Lord Siva. The legend has it that Siva consumed venom that was churned from the ocean during the Samudra Manthan and his throat became blue ("neel" is blue and "kanth" is throat.) Around the time of the festival of Sivatri one can see thousands of people walking up to the temple (at 926 metres in altitude) to do worship. The walk up takes about 4 hours, or one can take a taxi, jeep or bus from Laksman Jhula to the temple by road.

Garuda Chatti/Phul Chatti

These are places on the road to Neelkanth, located on the Ganges 4 and 10 kilometres north respectively from Laksman Jhula. From Garuda Chatti a path leads up into the hills, beside which are a number of enchanting waterfalls and other natural sights. Phul Chatti is an Ashram located at a spot where a smaller river enters the Ganges. Both places are on the old pilgrimage path that was used for hundreds of years to walk up to the holy shrines of the Himalayas.

Vasishtha Guha

This is a very famous cave located on the Ganges about 45 minutes by taxi from Rishikesh. The cave is reputed to be the place where many great saints and sages have done meditation and austerities. The view of the river at this point is exquisite.

Kunja Puri

This is a temple dedicated to the worship of the Divine Mother. The temple is located at the top of a mountain west of the Sivananda Ashram that rises to 1,645 metres. One can have darshan of the temple and also a beautiful, almost breath-taking, panorama of the high Himalayan snow peaks in the distance. Assuming one is quite fit, a walk up to the temple is possible (about 4 hours up, 3 hours down), or otherwise there are taxis and buses that go to Hindola Khal, which is a 45-minute walk below Kunja Puri.


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