Rishikesh is unique place when it comes to variety of experiences. First of all there is 3 major things which attracts people from all around the world to Rishikesh is Yoga, Spirituality and Adventure.
Yoga & Meditation in Rishikesh: Rishikesh attracted many spiritual leaders with its charm in ancient time. Some of them were practicing yoga and meditation. Later they inspired their devotees to practice yoga and meditation much before the science accepted its benefits. Later when the Beatles visited Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram in Rishikesh in 1960s that attracted yoga lovers from all around the world to Rishikesh. Now this small town in unofficial world capital of yoga. Here you an learn multiple type of yoga at one place. You can try multiple type of yoga rather than just learning one type of yoga.
Spirituality in Rishikesh: Rishikesh started attracting spiritual people much before the town came to existence. The holy River Ganga, Himalayas and the beautiful surrounding of Rajaji National Park creates magical feeling. Later the spiritual leaders started making ashrams (spiritual retreats) and invited their followers to come here stay with them. Gradually when the more people started coming here at these ashrams the more rooms they added. Now few ashrams are so large in terms of area and the number of guests they can accommodate that they will easily get nomination in largest ashrams in India. Every year people are coming here to stay in these ashrams and learn various philosophies. The stay in these ashrams can give you a break from busy life and help you in improving you life. Its not about changing your religion or belief but to learn something new.
Adventure in Rishikesh: It was 1984 when first river rafting expedition was organized in Alaknanda and Ganga River. Now white water rafting in river ganga is one of the main reason to visit Rishikesh for many tourists. Later in Shivpuri (20 kms far from Rishikesh) many local people started earning money from establishing beach camps here. Now it is attracting large number of tourists mainly in March to June and all other long weekends. In 2006 Bungy jumping started here. Rishikesh is also kind of gateway for some amazing treks in Garhwal Himalayas. Due to all these Rishikesh is now an unofficial capital for adventure in India.
Things to do in Rishikesh:
Holy dip in the river Ganga: River Ganga is considered as most holy river in India. Taking holy dip in the River Ganga is a life time dream for millions of people in India. People believe that their sins will be washed away when they take holy dip in the River Ganga. Take holy dip and feel blessed.
Attend Ganga Aarti: River Ganga is worshiped as goddess here. Everyday evening there is special prayers organized here which is dedicated to River Ganga. Aarti means prayer. At Rishikesh there are multiple places where every evening Ganga Aarti is organized. Ganga Aarti at Parmarth Niketan is liked by many. Here Ganga Aarti is organized with live Kirtan (devotional music). Apart from here at Triveni Ghat they organize the traditional Ganga Aarti.
Strolling: There are many places where walking can be interesting. To know Rishikesh better street walk is must. Street from Lakshman Jhula to Ram Jhula & evening walk at triveni ghat is best choice. Evening walk at Astha Path is also good.
Yoga & Meditation Classes: Trip to Rishikesh is not complete if you don’t try yoga meditation here. If you are new to yoga you can join group for beginners yoga. If you have multiple days try various type of yoga at multiple place rather than learning at one place.
Staying at Ashram: Staying at ashram can be life changing experience here. 2 or 3 days are not enough. One week or two week will be good start if you are new to this. You can learn some new philosophies while attending lectures. Meet some new people. Feel far away from busy life. Take part in voluntary activities (Karma Yoga).
Rafting in River Ganga: Enjoy white water rafting in Ganga. Rafting is open during September to June. Shivpuri to Rishikesh route is most famous. Avoid it on busy days such as summer weekends as it will be more enjoyable on less busy days.
Overnight camping with friends: Camping on the beach of river Ganga with friends will certainly become lifetime memory. (Beach camps are not available from July to Sep due to monsoon.
Sunrise or Sunset view from Kunjapuri: Visit Kunjapuri Temple (1675 meters altitude) which provides panoramic views of Himalaya and the Rishikesh.
Meditation in Vashishtha Cave: Meditate in this ancient cave which was used by Sage Vashistha and many other spiritual leaders. The place has some unique positive energy which experienced by many.
Jungle Safari: If you are nature lover than Jungle Safari at Rajaji National Park will be a treat for you. Park is open for tourist from November to June.
Bungy Jumping: Experience the India’s highest bungy jumping (83 meters). Flying Fox (Zip-line) and Giant Swing is also available at the same place.
Air Safari: Newly added activity. Get amazing views while flying in motor powered parachute. It can be lifetime moment while feeling like a bird.
Trekking Near Rishikesh: There are some light treks near Rishikesh which are good as a half day activity. Neer Gaddu Waterfall, Kunjapuri Trek is popular.
Ayurvedic Massage: Get an ayurvedic massage & remove stress and body pain.