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Rishikesh is an Indian city located right on the banks of the Ganga River and is a pilgrimage site for Hindus. The city is located near Dehradun, one of the offbeat places near Rishikesh and the state’s capital of Uttarakhand, in the Dehradun district. Rishikesh is famous because it is the spot where a lot of ancient sages and sannyasis (Indian mendicant monks), as well as yogis, used to do their penance by the side of the Ganga river. These spiritual masters were known to have performed their spiritual practises by the riverbanks, such as yoga, mantras, and meditation. A large number of temples and ashrams have been built alongside the banks of the Ganga River.

7 Offbeat Places Near Rishikesh You Must Visit

1. Uttarkashi

Aerial view of Uttarkashi Town, Uttarkashi District

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Uttarkashi has been a spot for meditation for sages of the Indian religion for many years. The city is mentioned in the Skanda Purana, which says that many sages have done penance at Uttarkashi. Uttarkashi is a very serene place and has the perfect location along the holy Ganga, and has, therefore, been the first choice of yoga for many spiritual seekers from time immemorial.

Uttarkashi has many temples and ashrams and houses the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. The Kashi Vishwanath temple of Uttarkashi is very similar to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Benaras. It has a very large Trishul that simply cannot be moved, and no one knows how deep the base of the Trishul extends into the earth.

  • Distance From Rishikesh: 167 km
  • Best Known For: Dayara Bugyal, Barsu Village, Sangam Chatti, Maneri Dham, Bharkot Airport
  • Best Time To Visit: March to November

Must Read: Spirutual Places To See In Rishikesh

2. Badrinath

View of Badrinath in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

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Badrinath is a temple town in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, accessed via Rishikesh. It is most famous for hosting the town’s Badrinarayan temple or Badri Vishal temple. The temple is an ancient temple, going back to the times of Adi Shankaracharya, who discovered a black idol of Lord Badrinarayan, made of the famous Shaligram stone, amid the Alakananda River. He had originally established the idol in the caves near Tapt Kund, while the King of Garhwal eventually shifted the idol to the present location in the temple. Other locations of interest in Badrinath include the Charanpaduka rock and Mana village, a short hike further upwards from Badrinath.

  • Distance From Rishikesh: 287 km
  • Best Known For: Badrinath Narayan Temple, Vasundhara Falls, Bheem Pul, Tapt Kund, Saraswati River
  • Best Time To Visit: May to October

3. Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath temple in the Himalayas

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Kedarnath Temple is one amongst the 12 Jyotir Lingas (Jyoti means light) of Lord Shiva all throughout India and is located near the Mandakini river in the Garhwal range in the state of Uttarakhand. The temple is open to the general public only during April and November and remains shut during the other months, owing to extreme weather conditions. During winter, the temple’s idol is carried down in a procession to the temple at Ukhimath, where it is worshipped for the remaining six months. The region is historically named Kedarkhand. The temple is not accessible by road, and the length of 22 kilometres from Gaurikund has to be trekked or carried out with the help of miles ponies, and palanquins. Hindu legends state that the temple was originally built by the Pandavas, who were supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance at the holy spot.

  • Distance From Rishikesh: 218 km
  • Best Known For:: Ancient Shiva Temple, Shrines, Himalayan Ranges, and Chorabari Glacier
  • Best Time To Visit: April to June

Suggested Read: Top Temples To Visit In Uttarakhand

4. Gangotri

Ganga devi temple in Gangotri

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Gangotri is a municipality in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, located about 100 kilometres from Uttarkashi, the district’s headquarters. It is a pilgrim town for Hindus located on the banks of the river Bhagirathi, the origin of the Ganges. The town is located at an altitude of 3,100 metres above sea level. According to legends, the goddess Ganga descended at this spot when Shiva released her from his mighty dreadlocks. One can see the Ganga in her pristine and pure, clean form over here. The original Gangotri temple located here was first built by the Nepalese general Amar Singh Thapa, and this temple was again later restored sometime around the 19th century. The temple remains closed from Deepavali day every year and is reopened again on Akshaya Tritiya. When the temple is closed, the idol of the goddess is kept at Mukhba village, located near Harsil. One of the best offbeat places near Rishikesh you must visit.

  • Distance From Rishikesh: 265 km
  • Best Known For: Gangotri Temple, Gauri Kund, Surya Kund, Vishwanath Temple
  • Best Time To Visit: May-June or September-October

5. Yamunotri

The temple shrine of Goddess Yamuna or Jamuna

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Yamunotri, also called Jamunotri, is the source of the famous Yamuna river and is where the Goddess Yamuna sits in the Hindu religion. At an altitude of 3,293 meters, Yamunotri is located approximately 150 kilometres north of Uttarkashi, the headquarters of the Uttarkashi district of the Garhwal division of Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the four sites of India’s Char Dham pilgrimage. The shrine of Yanuma Devi is at the westernmost edge of the Garhwal Himalayas, located on top of a flank of the Bandarpunch mountain. Besides the temple dedicated to Yamuna Devi, there is also a holy thermal spring at Janki Chatti, about 7 kilometres away from Yamunotri.

The actual source of the Yamuna, the Champasar Glacier, is located on Khalid Mountain about 1 kilometre further up. The glacier is not accessible and, hence, is not generally frequented. This is why the shrine is located at the foot of the hill. Since the approach is very difficult, pilgrims offer puja at the temple at the base of the hill itself.

  • Distance From Rishikesh: 215 km
  • Best Known For: Kharsali, Divya Shila, Saptarishi Kund, Barkot, Hanuman Chatti
  • Best Time To Visit: May-June or September-November

Suggested Read: Gangotri Glacier Trek In Uttarakhand

6. Auli

Artificial lake in Auli, Uttarakhand

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Auli is a small town in a meadow located in the Chamoli district of the Garhwal mountains in Uttarakhand, India. Auli is also known locally as Auli Bugyal, which means the “meadow of Auli”. The town is located at a height of about 2,800 meters from sea level. The valley of Auli has some of the highest numbers of flower species found anywhere in the world, during the period of June and October. The valley houses about 520 species of high-altitude plants, out of which about 498 plants are flowering, all with heavy populations of endangered species.

Auli came into prominence in the 8th century CE when Adi Shankaracharya established a Matha called the Jyotir Matha at Joshimath, which is close by, about 6 kilometres from Auli. The matha still exists today. Once this matha was established, Auli became known as the Gateway to the Himalayas. Today, Auli has blossomed into a skiing and hiking destination. It is currently being marketed as a tourist destination. The valley of Auli is surrounded by coniferous and oak forests, all coming together with a panoramic view of the peaks of the Himalayas. The skiing slopes of Auli can be skied by both professionals as well as novices. The GMVN or the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam, a state-owned travel and tourism agency, takes care of the main resort here, while the Uttarakhand Tourism Department regularly conducts skiing and winter sports competitions here at Auli to encourage skiing and winter sports in India.

  • Distance From Rishikesh: 268 km
  • Best Known For: Auli Lake, Chattrakund, Gurson Bugyal, Narsingh Temple
  • Best Time To Visit: March and June

7. Chopta

The view from Chandrashila, Tunganath, Chopta

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Chopta is a small village with an evergreen forest area and meadows. It is a part of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary in the Uttarakhand state of India. Chopta is also known as the ‘Mini Switzerland of India’ and is the base for trekking to the highest Shiva temple in the world, Tunganath. Tunganath lies just about 3.5 kilometres away from the base of Chopta. There is also another spot called Chandrashila, where the moon god is said to have done penance, at the summit, which rises to about 4,000 meters above sea level. From Chandrashila, one can get a panoramic and 360-degree view of the Himalayas. One can spot mountain peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul and Chaukhamba. Chopta is surrounded by rhododendrons, pine, and deodar forests and is extremely rich in flora and fauna. It includes rare species of birds and animals like the musk, deer, and jackals. Choptra is 160 odd kilometers away from Rishikesh, and 45 kilomteres away from Ukhimath. The best time to visit this hillside is from April to November. Chopta can also be a great place to visit during winter because of the light snowfall that the place encounters. Both Tunganath and Chandrashila are covered by snow from December to March.

  • Distance From Rishikesh: 171 km
  • Best Known For: Deoria Tal, Chandrashila Trek, Tungnath Temple
  • Best Time To Visit: March and May

Further Read: Offbeat Destinations In India In December

Make a trip to the Indian Himalayas and visit all these offbeat places spots near Rishikesh while planning your trip to Uttarakhand. Visiting these places will keep youngsters, elders, friends and spiritual travellers entertained and enthralled.

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Frequently asked questions about offbeat places near Rishikesh

What kind of clothing should I take for a trip to the Himalayas?

If you are travelling in the summer months, take some light cotton clothing, along with some inners and a jacket. Preferably, the jacket should be waterproof. Wear sneakers as you may end up walking on snow at times. While travelling in winter, take woollens, a jacket, and inners along with sneakers and woollen socks.

What are some ashrams I can visit while I am in Rishikesh?

Some ashrams you can visit while in Rishikesh include the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, The Divine Life Society (Swami Shivananda’s Ashram), and the Beatles Ashram (which is now defunct).

What are some activities I can do in Rishikesh?

While in Rishikesh there are a number of activities that you can do which include, meditating by the ghats of the Parmarth Niketan near the Ganges, taking a holy dip in the Ganga river, learning yoga from the many yoga ashrams and centres in Rishikesh, spending time at the cafes and indulging in some continental food, shopping and visiting temples. All of these can be done in offbeat places near Rishikesh within 50 km.

Can I do white water rafting in Rishikesh?

Rishikesh has a number of white water rafting experiences throughout the length of the Ganga river. A team of 6-7 are enough to fill an entire white water raft, and an experienced instructor will guide you and accompany you on the boat. Lifejackets are a must for all rafters, and the trip is completed by a dip amid the freezing cold waters of the Ganga!

How can I reach Rishikesh by air?

Rishikesh does not have an airport of its own, and the closest airport is in Dehradun, which is the capital of Uttarakhand. From Dehradun, you can hail a taxi or an auto rickshaw and drive up to Rishikesh.

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