Fun Things To Do In Rishikesh, India

Yoga, Meditation, Ashrams, Scrumptious Food, And The Beatles.


Rishikesh became recognized in the late 1960s when the most influential band at the time, The Beatles stayed at the Ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to study transcendental meditation.

Today, Rishikesh is the ‘yoga capital of the world’ with hundreds of studios, and ashrams providing an array of classes from yoga, meditation, singing, and music, to massage, healing, and lectures which are all found in the 3 minuscule villages a quick rickshaw ride from Rishikesh. Laxman Jhula, Ram Jhula, and Tapovan are nestled along the banks of the mighty Ganges with two brightly colored footbridges that provide easy access between them.





There is no shortage of Ashrams, hotels, guesthouses to suit every budget. l don’t recommend a hostel when most guesthouses or Ashrams charge as little as 300-500R ($4-7) per night, not including food and yoga classes. Most places offer wifi, linen, and hot water. 

I recommend Tapovan as it’s less noisy and has more options than the other two villages.

When I first arrived in Tapovan I wandered the streets looking for accommodation that suited my budget, and my spiritual and yoga goals. When I entered Vishnu Yoga Shala and Ashram with stunning views of Laxman Jhula bridge and the sacred fast-flowing Ganges I knew this Ashram would be my home for the next five weeks. The Ashram is small with around 8 rooms, a wonderful yoga and meditation hall, and a beautiful temple. I paid 500R per night and most afternoons took their Ashtanga classes (300R). In the evenings I often participated in Puja with the priests, fellow students and anyone from town. Most Ashrams don’t have a set schedule that you must follow unless you pay to participate in the teaching training programs or a spiritual retreat.



Ashtanga, Hatha, yoga therapy, teacher training, and numerous meditation studios are scattered all though Laxman Jhula, Ram Jhula, and Tapovan. Most places offer drop-in classes  (200-300R/ $3-4) throughout the day and provide all the necessary equipment – yoga mats, blocks, straps, and blankets. I recommend trying different yoga and meditation classes as all the teachers have their own unique methods, adjustments, and philosophies that will enrichen your experience.



Just before the sun sets over the Ganges, Hindu ceremonies take place at the ashrams, some of which are on the banks of the Ganges. Open to anyone who would like to observe or partake in Puja (prayer) which involve the chanting of hymns, sacrificial offerings, and the Aarti flame. Its customary to be apprehensive the first few times, but watch and enjoy the immense beauty and calmness of the ceremony. By the 2nd or 3rd time you will want to actively participate and by the 6th time, you will be providing commentary to those who are newbies.


Sing devotional, ancient chants accompanied by musical instruments in smaller venues scattered around Rishikesh. After a busy day, singing or listening to these mantras will quiet the mind and provide a soothing calmness. Ask at any hotel or yoga studio and they will know of current venues offering Kirtan prayer chanting.



Rishikesh is a meat and alcohol-free city, but don’t let this deter you. The Indian restaurants serve unbelievable vegetarian fare and the cafes serve a plethora of International cuisine. As you will be focused on yoga and meditation, it will be a welcomed relief not having to digest chunks of meat and beer. My favorite places in Tapovan are Janta Pure Vegetarian, Shambala, Tat and Free Spirit Cafe.



I spent Christmas morning walking the abandoned Beatles Ashram where the Beatles studied transcendental meditation under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Although the place is rundown one can still wander through the meditation caves, sleeping quarters and the yoga halls which are littered with stunning murals of The Beatles. Bring a yoga mat, book or guitar and spend hours meditating and quieting your mind. Hours: Approx 10-5pm. Price: 600R ($9)