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Rishikesh

Rishikesh
Rishikesh view and 13 storey Shiva temple across Lakshman Jhula bridge over the Ganges
Rishikesh view and 13 storey Shiva temple across Lakshman Jhula bridge over the Ganges
Nickname(s): 
Yoganagari
Rishikesh is located in Uttarakhand
Rishikesh
Rishikesh
Location in Uttarakhand
Rishikesh is located in India
Rishikesh
Rishikesh
Rishikesh (India)
Coordinates: 30°06′30″N 78°17′50″E / 30.10833°N 78.29722°E / 30.10833; 78.29722
CountryIndia
StateUttarakhand
DistrictDehradun
Municipality1952
Named forHrishikesha
Government
 • TypeMayor–Council
 • BodyRishikesh Municipal Corporation
 • MayorAnita Mamgain (BJP)
 • Municipal CommissionerChatar Singh Chauhan, IAS
Area
 • Total11.5 km2 (4.4 sq mi)
Elevation
372 m (1,220 ft)
Population
 (2011)
 • Total102,138 (Urban Agglomeration)
 • Rank7th
 • Density8,851/km2 (22,920/sq mi)
 • Male
54,446
 • Female
47,672
Languages
 • OfficialHindi
 • OtherGarhwali
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
PIN
249201
Telephone code+91-135
Vehicle registrationUK-14
Literacy (2011)86.86%
• Male92.21%
• Female80.78%
• Rank2nd
Sex ratio (2011)875 / 1000

Rishikesh, also known as Hrishikesh, is a city governed by Rishikesh Municipal Corporation (since October 2017),[1] 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 of the World".[2][3][4] It lies approximately 25 km (16 mi) north of the city Haridwar and 43 km (27 mi) southeast of the state capital Dehradun. According to Census of India, 2011 Rishikesh had a population of 102,138 making it the seventh most populated city in the state of Uttarakhand. It is known as the pilgrimage town and regarded as one of the holiest places to Hindus.[3] Hindu sages and saints have visited Rishikesh since ancient times to meditate in search of higher knowledge.[5]

In September 2015, the Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma announced that Rishikesh and Haridwar will be the first in India to be given the title of "twin national heritage cities".[6] Due to the religious significance of the place, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly prohibited in Rishikesh.[7] The city has hosted the annual International Yoga Festival on the first week of March since 1989.[8][9]

Etymology

IAST: "Hṛṣīkeśa" (Sanskrit: हृषीकेश) is a name of Vishnu composed of hṛṣīka meaning 'senses' and īśa meaning 'lord', thus 'Lord of the Senses'.[10][11] The name commemorates an apparition of Vishnu to Raibhya Rishi,[12] as a result of his tapasya (austerities), as Lord Hrishikesha.[13] In Skanda Purana, this area is known as Kubjāmraka (कुब्जाम्रक) as Lord Vishnu appeared under a mango tree.[11] 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 Tīrtha' (अग्नि तीर्थ) — the holy place to do penance of Lord Agni or Fire God.[14]

History

Rishikesh has been a part of the legendary 'Kedarkhand'.[15] Legends state that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the asura 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 using two jute ropes at the point where the present 'Lakshman Jhula' (लक्ष्मण झूला) bridge stands today.[13] The 'Kedarkhand' of Skanda Purana, also mentions the existence of Indrakund at this very point. The jute-rope bridge was replaced by a 248 foot long iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889. After it was washed away in the 1924 floods, it was replaced in 1927 by the present stronger bridge built by the United Provinces Public Works Department. This bridge connects the two districts of Tapovan, Tehri and Jonk, Pauri Garhwal. Another similar suspension bridge Ram Jhula was built in 1986 at nearby Sivananda Nagar.

The Ganges, one of the most sacred rivers to Hindus,[16] flows through Rishikesh. Here the river leaves the Shivalik Hills in the Himalayas and flows into the plains of northern India. Several temples, ancient and new, are along the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh. Shatrughna Mandir, Bharat Mandir (lord Vishnu's avatar), Lakshman Mandir are the ancient temples established by Adi Shankaracharya. Shatrughna Temple is near Ram Jhula and Lakshman Mandir is near Lakshman Jhula.

Rishikesh has in recent decades shifted from a pilgrim to a tourist town. The International Yoga Festival introduced in 2000 has brought new influx of tourists. Local markets have evolved from commercialising goods such as “local and religious handicrafts” to a more service-oriented tourist industry with “provision stores, cafes, hotels and yoga and meditation” as well as rafting.[17]

Geography

View of Rishikesh from the beach

Rishikesh is at 30°06′12″N 78°17′41″E / 30.103368°N 78.294754°E / 30.103368; 78.294754. It has an average elevation of 372 metres (1,220 ft).[18] The town is located in the Tehri Garhwal region of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.

After flowing 249 km (155.343 mi)[19] through its narrow Himalayan valley, the Ganges emerges from the mountains at Rishikesh, then debouches onto the Gangetic Plain at the pilgrimage town of Haridwar.[20] Despite the pollution of the Ganges, the water in Rishikesh is relatively unaffected as the major polluting points are down river in the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh.[21]

The Tehri Dam is just 86 km (53 mi) 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.

According to Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, its climate is humid subtropical (Cwa). Average maximum temperature is 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees fahrenheit).[22] The average minimum temperature is 7 degrees Celsius. The wettest month is July with highest rainfall of 444mm. The driest month is November with rainfall of 10mm. Months of May, June, July and August has the highest UV index of 12 and January and December have the lowest UV index of 4.[23]

Climate data for Rishikesh
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 17
(63)
22
(72)
29
(84)
35
(95)
39
(102)
38
(100)
33
(91)
32
(90)
32
(90)
30
(86)
25
(77)
20
(68)
29
(85)
Average low °C (°F) 5
(41)
8
(46)
14
(57)
18
(64)
23
(73)
25
(77)
25
(77)
24
(75)
23
(73)
15
(59)
9
(48)
6
(43)
16
(61)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 51
(2.0)
33
(1.3)
34
(1.3)
9
(0.4)
20
(0.8)
94
(3.7)
482
(19.0)
495
(19.5)
219
(8.6)
76
(3.0)
9
(0.4)
17
(0.7)
1,539
(60.7)
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
Source: Weather2Travel[24]


Civic Administration

Rishikesh Municipal Corporation administers the city. The urban local body was incorporated into a Municipal Corporation in 2018.[25] The city is divided into 40 wards. When the delimitation of the wards was done at the time of the formation of the Municipal Corporation, the minimum population of each ward was 2,300 and maximum 3,000.[26] Rishikesh belongs to the Hardwar Lok Sabha constituency.[27]

Demographics

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% compared to the national average of 74.04%.[28]

Tourism

Yoga

Students from around the world undergoing yoga teacher training by the River Ganges at Rishikesh, 2015

In February 1968, the Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh, attracted by his Transcendental Meditation.[29] The Beatles composed numerous songs during their time at the ashram, many of which appear on the band's self-titled double album, also known as the "White Album".[30] Many westerners followed, increasing participation in yoga, to the extent that Rishikesh has been nicknamed "Yoga Capital of the World"; it has numerous yoga centres that attract tourists.[3] Serious yoga students come to learn and to become qualified as yoga teachers.[5][31][32]

The city includes the district of Sivananda Nagar, the home of Sivananda Ashram and the Divine Life Society founded by Swami Sivananda, north of the town centre; the temple sections of Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula, a little further north; and assorted ashrams around Swargashram on the eastern bank. The Ganga Arti performed at dusk at the Triveni Ghat is popular with visitors.[33] Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, amidst forest 28 km (17 mi) from Rishikesh, is a popular local pilgrimage, along with Vashishtha Guha (Cave of Sage Vashishtha), 21 km (13 mi) up from the town by the Ganges.[34][35]

Rafting camps

View of Rishikesh
River Banks in Rishikesh

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 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 campsites, 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 campsite."

In a 2008 study on the beach camps between Kaudiyala and Rishikesh, experts from the Govind Ballabh Pant Himalayan Environment and Development Institute—R. K. Maikhuri, Nihal Farukhi and Tarun Budhal—found that wildlife conservation standards and norms, particularly for waste management, were routinely disregarded.

A bench headed by the National Green Tribunal chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar on 1 April 2015 heard a plea filed by the non-governmental organisation Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE). The National Green Tribunal has sought explanations from the Government of India and the Government of Uttarakhand 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 would not grant permission to any new camp till the next hearing in May.[36][37][38][39][40][41]

As the seriousness of issue "The National Green Tribunal," a bench headed by Justice U. D. Salve has rejected permission to rafting camps operating in Rishikesh and slammed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the Government of Uttarakhand for not filing their replies in the case and directed them to file their response.[42][43]

Effect on spiritual environment

Chit chat at bank of River Ganga at Rishikesh
Shiva statue near Parmarth Niketan which was washed away by the 2013 flood on River Ganga

It has been reported that large numbers of tourists visiting Rishikesh from India and the world have been consuming drugs and alcohol and appearing partially naked at beaches, leading to complaints that the spiritual environment of the area has been affected.[44][45][46][47]

According to many Hindu yogis and sadhus, the riverside stretch is of spiritual and religious importance, as it is where the Ganges takes its form after the confluence of the rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda at Devprayag in the Garhwal Himalayas. Saints and yogis have been meditating on the banks of Ganges since antiquity. However, these banks have been polluted with liquor bottles at camps as well as obscene activities and behavior at the beaches.[46][48][49][50][51]

Health

AIIMS Rishikesh is one of the six apex healthcare institutes being established by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (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 and training.[52][53]

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 medical science), Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy, and other alternative medicine systems will be researched in Rishikesh.[54]

Transport

Rishikesh railway station is the major railway station in the city. The railway station was created in 1939, during the British era. It is connected to Haridwar JN with two reserved mail/express trains 14609/14610(Hemkunt Express) and 24887/24888 (Barmer Express); and four unreserved trains 54471/54472, 54481/54482, 54463/54464 & 54483/54486. This city is connected with state capital Dehradun with rail route via Raiwala JN which is 12 km from the city.[55] A new railway line, connecting Rishikesh with Karnaprayag is under construction.[56] The city is well connected with all major north Indian cities like Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida via bus. Rishikesh has air connectivity with Dehradun Airport at just 15 km from the city center.

Gallery

See also

References

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External links