|Nickname(s): Yoganagari, योगनगरी|
|Named for||Hrishikesha (an avatar of Vishnu)|
|• Body||Rishikesh Municipal Council|
|• Chairman||Deep Sharma (INC)|
|• Total||11.5 km2 (4.4 sq mi)|
|Elevation||372 m (1,220 ft)|
|• Total||102,138 (Urban Agglomeration)
|• Density||8,851/km2 (22,920/sq mi)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Vehicle registration||UK 07|
|Sex ratio||875 ♀/♂|
Rishikesh (Hindi: ऋषिकेश; Sanskrit: हृषीकेश) is a city, municipal council and a tehsil in Dehradun district of the Indian state, Uttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as The Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas. and yoga capital. Rishikesh is surrounded by three other districts namely Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal and Haridwar. It is located approximately 25 km north of the city Haridwar and 43 km south-east of the state capital Dehradun. According to Census of India, 2011 Rishikesh had a population of 102,138 making it the 7th most populated city also the largest municipal council in the state of Uttarakhand. It is known as the pilgrimage town and regarded as one of the holiest places to Hindus. Hindu sages and saints have visited Rishikesh since ancient times to meditate in search of higher knowledge.
IAST: "Hṛṣīkeśa" (Sanskrit: हृषीकेश) is a name of Vishnu that means 'lord of the senses'. The root words Hrishika and Isha join together to make Hrishikesha. Hrishika means Senses and Isha means Master or Lord. Hence the word means Lord of Senses or Lord Vishnu. The place gets its name after Lord Vishnu who appeared to 'Raibhya Rishi', as a result of his tapasya (austerities), as Lord Hrishikesha. In Skanda Purana, this area is known as 'Kubjamraka' (कुब्जाम्रक) as Lord Vishnu appeared, under a mango tree. Another legend says that fierce fire broke out here. Lord Shiva was angry with Lord Agni and cursed him. Then Lord Agni prayed here for the expiation of his sins. Hence it is also known as 'Agni Tirtha' (अग्नि तीर्थ) - The holy place to penance of Lord Agni or Fire God.
The name Rishikesh is loosely applied to an association of five distinct sections encompassing not only the town but also hamlets and settlements on both sides of the river Ganges. These include Rishikesh itself, the commercial and communication hub; the sprawling suburb Muni Ki Reti or the "sands of the sages"; Sivananda Nagar the home of Sivananda Ashram and the Divine Life Society founded by Swami Sivananda, north of Rishikesh; the temple sections of Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula, a little further north; and the assorted Ashrams around Swargashram on the eastern bank. The Ganga Arti performed at dusk at the Triveni Ghat is popular with visitors. Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, situated 28 km from Rishikesh, amidst forest is also a popular local pilgrimage, along with 'Vashishtha Guha', (Cave of Sage Vashishtha), 21 km up from the town by the Ganges. Over the years, it has established itself as the yoga capital of the world. From the US, Europe and China and Australia, serious yoga students come to learn asanas and kriyas that will help them lead a healthy life.
Rishikesh has been a part of the legendary 'Kedarkhand' (the present day Garhwal). Legends state that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka; and Lakshmana, his younger brother, crossed the river Ganges, at a point, where the present 'Lakshman Jhula' (लक्ष्मण झूला) bridge stands today, using a jute rope bridge. The 'Kedar Khand' of Skanda Purana, also mentions the existence of Indrakund at this very point. The jute-rope bridge was replaced by iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889, and after it was washed away in the 1924 floods, it was replaced by the present stronger bridge. Another similar suspension bridge Ram Jhula was built in 1986 at nearby Shivananda Nagar.
The sacred river Ganges flows through Rishikesh. It is here that the river leaves the Shivalik mountains in the Himalayas and flows out into the plains of northern India. Several temples, ancient as well as new, can be found along the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh. Shatrughna Mandir, Bharat Mandir, Lakshman Mandir are the ancient temples established by Adi Shankaracharya. Shatrughna Temple is located near Ram Jhula and Lakshman Mandir is near to Lakshman Jhula.
As with Haridwar about an hour south, Rishikesh is considered by Hindus to be a holy city and is vegetarian by law. Meat and alcohol are not served within the city. Cows roam freely in the streets and always have the right of way if they stop traffic.
The Tehri Dam is just 80 km uphill on the way to Gangotri. Rishikesh is the starting point for travelling to the four Chota Char Dham pilgrimage places — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. Rishikesh is also famous for ayurvedic treatments. Many ayurveda centre are run where ayurvedic classes are given by ayurvedic doctors.
Despite the pollution of the Ganges, the water in Rishikesh is relatively unaffected by the pollution as the major polluting points are down the course of the river in the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh.
|Climate data for Rishikesh|
|Average high °C (°F)||20
|Average low °C (°F)||7
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||51
|Average rainy days||3||2||3||1||2||7||15||16||8||2||0||1||60|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||6||7||8||9||9||7||6||6||7||8||8||7||7.3|
As per provisional data of 2011 census Rishikesh had a population of 102,138, out of which males were 54,466 and females were 47,672. The literacy rate was 86.86 per cent compared to national average of 74.04%.
Rishikesh, sometimes nicknamed "The World Capital of Yoga", has numerous yoga centres that also attract tourists. It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of moksha, as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it. Rafting season starts from the month of March and ends in September.
Rishikesh is also home to the 133 year old Kailash Ashram Brahmavidyapitham, an institution dedicated to preserve and promote the traditional Vedantic Studies. Prominent personalities such as Swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Shivananda have studied in this institution.
In February 1968, The Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh. John Lennon recorded a song titled, "The Happy Rishikesh Song". The Beatles composed numerous songs during their time at the Maharishi's ashram, some of which appear on the White Album. Several other artists, including Mike Love, The Beach Boys, Donovan and Gyp Mills visited the site to contemplate and meditate. Former royal palace of the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal at near by Narendranagar, now houses the Ananda–In the Himalayas destination spa and yoga retreat, estb. 2000.
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles visited Rishikesh in 2013, and participated in the Ganga aarti.They also conducted a special hawan for world peace at the ashram . Charles said: "I am amazed by the experience of sitting on the bank of one of the ancients rivers of the world. It is the right time for us to rediscover our connection with nature."
Rishikesh is becoming a popular spot for white water rafting enthusiasts, both from India and abroad, as the Ganges offers medium to rough rapids rated class 3 and class 4. It is also a center for hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, rappelling and kayaking. In previous years bungee jumping was also introduced in Rishikesh. One can also enjoy mountain biking at Mohanchatti  which is near the popular place called Lakshman Jhula in Rishikesh.
As tourists from all over the world are attracting towards Rishikesh for yoga, rafting, and travelling, Rishikesh has become an international attraction. Rafting in Rishikesh is a popular sport in summer, but due to violations of rules most rafting camps in Rishikesh cause pollution to the river.
According to environmental activists, "These camps are not only in violation of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 but also the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 as well as the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 as it is leading to pollution of Ganga by discharging effluent, throwing of solid waste directly and adversely affecting the ecological integrity of the river system."
Environmental activists alleged that these camps, which are located and established as temporary sites, do not have adequate sewage and sanitation facilities, disturb the habitat of wild animals and "affect the peace, tranquility and serenity of the forest area."
"At the camp sites, the camp owners permit employees and the visitors to have food and alcohol. They leave empty bottles, cans, unconsumed food and waste including bones and filth in and around the camp site."
In a 2008 study on the beach camps between Kaudiyala and Rishikesh, experts from the Govind Ballabh Pant Himalayan Environment and Development Institute - RK Maikhuri, Nihaal Farukhi and Tarun Budhal - found that wildlife conservation standards and norms, particularly for waste management were being routinely disregarded.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar was on 1st April hearing a plea filed by non-governmental organisation Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE),The National Green Tribunal has sought explanations from the central government and the Uttarakhand state government on the "unregulated" operation of rafting camps on the banks of Ganga between Shivpuri and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. The state government has assured the tribunal that it will not grant permission to any new camp till the next hearing in May.
As the seriousness of issue "The National Green Tribunal" a bench headed by Justice UD Salvi has reject permission to rafting camps operating in Rishikesh, and slammed the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) and the Uttarakhand government for not filing their replies in the case and directed them to file their response. 
Effecting spiritual environment
The banks of Ganges are no less than any beaches in the world in terms of tourist footfall and picturesque scenery. The overall setting of the bank of Ganges near Rishikesh induces peace and tranquility, thus making it ideal for meditation and yoga since ancient times. However, large number of tourists from different parts from India and the world - obscure of spiritual and cultural values of Rishikesh - consume drugs and alcohol and participate in partial nudity at beaches, which effects the spiritual environment of area where sadhus and yogis gather to meditate and contemplate. According to many, Rishikesh is more becoming somewhat like Goa than a spiritual abode for which it is renowned.
According to many Hindu yogis, this riverside stretch is of spiritual and religious importance, as the Ganges takes its form only after the confluence of rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda at Devprayag in the Garhwal Himalayas and reaches the plains in Rishikesh, as the holy river Ganges. Saints and yogis have been meditating on the banks of Ganges since antiquity. However, lately these banks have been polluted with liquor bottles littered at camps as well as obscene activities and behavior at the beaches.
AIIMS Rishikesh is one of the SIX Apex healthcare institutes being established by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna (PMSSY).With the aim of correcting regional imbalances in quality tertiary level healthcare in the country and attaining self-sufficiency in graduate and postgraduate medical education & training.
First Ayush centre (The Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy of India) was opened in Rishikesh on 4 June 2015 by Shripad Yasso Naik, Minister for Yoga and Traditional Medicine. He believes ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine), yoga, naturopathy, unani, siddha, homeopathy, and other alternative medicine systems will be researched in Rishikesh.
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