Nestled in the Himalayan foothills, Rishikesh is one of the most sacred cities in northern India. Located in the state of Uttarakhand, Rishikesh is the hub of sages, yoga practitioners and pilgrims, who throng the ghats (stepped banks of a river) and temples. In recent times, it has also become a centre point of adventure sports, offering activities like white water rafting, bungee jumping, canoeing and others. Ever since the Beatles arrived at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram here in the 1960s, looking for peace and inspiration for their music, Rishikesh has been a favourite destination for soul-seeking. Often called the yoga capital of the world, the tranquil forested slopes on the city’s outskirts are dotted with ashrams (places of spirituality and meditation), yoga institutes and luxurious spa resorts. The city sees a flurry of activity during February-March, as it plays host to dignitaries and yoga enthusiasts who come to take part in the International Yoga Week, organised by the State Tourism Department. Rishikesh is also noted for Ayurveda, and is home to several institutes offering education in the same. It is also known for its yoga schools, some of which are highly esteemed. A city of temples, legends abound at every turn in Rishikesh. According to one such lore, the great Hindu saint Raibhya Rishi performed prolonged penance on the banks of the Ganges. As a reward to the saint’s penance, Lord Vishnu appeared to him in his incarnation of Lord Hrishikesh. Another legend says that Lakshmana, the brother of Lord Rama, crossed the Ganges river here on a bridge he built with jute ropes. It is said the Lakshman Jhula, a famous attraction, stands at the same spot. The city is also the starting point of treks to several Himalayan pilgrimage centers such as Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.

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