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A spiritual mecca, Rishikesh has been attracting movers and shakers since before The Beatles put it on the map. Astride the holy river Ganges the self styled ‘Yoga Capital of the World’ holds a sacred place in the hearts of Hindus around the country. Filled with ashrams, yoga centres and Ayurvedic wellness practices it is not all “Om Shanti Om”; the fast flowing Ganges and vertiginous valleys make it a favoured destination amongst adrenaline junkies too. Many of the best places to stay in Rishikesh combine the two, allowing guests the best of both healing and exhilarating activities.
No visit to Rishikesh is complete without witnessing the mesmerizing evening ‘aarti’: a devotional fire ritual in honour of the goddess Ganga involving singing, rituals and dedications. A truly hypnotic performance, you will be swept away.
A great way to explore this small town is with a private walking tour. Starting at Laxman Jhula Bridge you will be taken through the markets, ashrams and temples. Learn about the area’s culture, history and religion.
Many hotels offer private yoga classes however Omkarananda Ganga Sadan and the Sivananda Yoga Centre are two of the most prestigious. Or, if you fancy a giggle, why not try ‘Hasya’ otherwise known as ‘Laughing Yoga’.
Unfortunately the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram, where John, Paul, George and Ringo made their home in the 1960’s has seen better days. However it enjoys a secluded spot and is a scenic walk out of town. Renovation work is set to take place in 2016.
The river and the mountains are a draw for lovers of the great outdoors. From white water rafting to trekking and even bungee jumping, there is plenty to get your pulse racing.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Rishikesh are all ideal for making the most of this destination, whether you're after the action or the relaxation.
For nature and tranquility
- All you need to take with you to The Glasshouse on The Ganges is a good book and a pair of walking shoes. This lovingly decorated property has a homestay feel. On the bank of the river Ganges, ensconced in a luscious mango orchard, there is an impressive population of local birdlife.
- Comprised of just six comfortable Swiss tents, Camp AquaForest provides an intimate stay, where thoughtful staff will help you plan out your excursions. Stay here to be as close to nature as possible.
- Rishikesh, indeed India, is overwhelmed with wellness resorts, however Ananda in the Himalayas is the cream of the crop. A former palace this regal property provides the utmost in five star luxury and holistic wellness. Two treatments, yoga classes and Vedanta teachings are included. A rejuvenating stay.
- Innovative architecture and modern design set Raga on the Ganges apart from the crowd. The spa enjoys floor to ceiling windows with views across the river and bedrooms have private balconies.
For a family stay
- Jam packed with on site and off activities (it even has its own climbing wall!) plus private family cottage accommodation Atali Ganga is the perfect stay for all ages - older children especially. Having won many an award since its opening it stands in great repute. A modern getaway, right on the Ganges.
Still not sure which to book? From back to nature to wellness retreat browse through our list of the best places to stay in Rishikesh to start to plan your trip. Or contact one of our friendly gurus for advice.
Best Hotels in Rishikesh
AquaForest Camp 6 rooms from $37Rishikesh (Ghattugad)
AquaForest provides comfortable accommodation on the banks of the Ganges in six air conditioned tents. More than just a place to rest your head, staff will go out of their way to organise your trip in Rishikesh. Breakfast and dinner are served and included in the price. Book or you'll miss out!Back to Nature - Located on the banks of the River Ganges you sleeping as close to nature as one could be.Local markets - Laxman Jula market is great for picking up clothing, jewellery and naturally made goods.Sights nearby - The evening 'aarti' is a must visit when in Rishikesh.Secluded setting - For escaping.
Raga on the Ganges 31 rooms from $89Rishikesh (Tehri Garwhal)
A design property and a perfect blend of active and pamper break. Boasting a spa with floor to ceiling windows and a bounty of excursions, there is something to suit every tempo. Rooms benefit from private balconies and are decorated in locally sourced woods and rich colours, with modern bathrooms.Views - Wonderful views over the surrounding countryside and the holy river GangesSwimming Pool - Outdoor poolSecluded setting - For escaping.Back to Nature
Glasshouse on the Ganges 21 rooms from $130Rishikesh (Uttarakhand)
Another of Neemrana's faultless heritage hotels. With an enviable location on the banks of the River Ganges, nestled amid a mango orchard, Glasshouse boasts vintage decor and friendly service. Rooms are bespoke design, making the most of the views and filled with antiques. For true escapists!Back to Nature - Lying on the banks of the River Ganges this property reminds guests of the simpler things in life.Sights nearby - Visit The Beatles' ashram, as it has now become known, where the group stayed in the 60's.Local markets - Rishikesh market is a great place to pick up some trinkets to take home.Birdwatching - There is an impressive variety of nesting birds along the river banks.
Atali Ganga 22 rooms from $178Rishikesh (Uttarakhand)
Where leisure, activities and serenity meet. Chic, modern mountain hideaway ideal for families and outdoor lovers. Comprised of 22 private cottages with iPod docks but no TVs, private terraces and Ganga views. Comfort food is served in the cosy White Water Cafe. An award winning hotel.Families - Family cottages and plenty of on and off site activities - better for older childrenActive Holiday - An activity lover's dream! Rock climbing, river rafting, trekking and so much moreBirdwatching - Head out with one of the naturalist and learn about Uttarakhand‘s abundant birdlifeLocal markets - Though an hour's drive away the market town of Rishikesh is great for shopping
Ananda in the Himalayas 78 rooms from $489Rishikesh (Uttarakhand)
Former palace turned luxury spa retreat. Rooms are decorated in natural palettes of creams and greens, all have balconies. The restaurant serves healthy cuisine and there is daily afternoon tea with sugar-free options. There is a pool, award winning Ayurvedic spa and fitness centre.Spa breaks - One the most renowned spas and arguably the best in the world for Ayurvedic treatments.Local markets - The town of Rishikesh is awash with shops and stalls selling local handicrafts and religious artefacts.Private Hot Tub - Book the Vicregal Suite for your private terrace with hot tubSights nearby - For music fans The Beatles ashram is worth a visit.