This post is part of a series on ‘Walks in India‘.
Highlights: Hanging bridges(Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula), Temples, Small shops, Wooded stretch, Ashrams(Swargashram and Parmarth Niketan), Ganga Aarti.
Season: October to March, when it is not hot.
Time of the day: Evening – 3.30pm to 7pm
Distance: Approximately 3kms
Difficulty Level: Easy
Map. This is an interactive map of the walk. Zoom in to get a closer look. Click on the blue markers to identify of each location.
View Walks in India – Rishikesh – Laxman Jhula in a larger map
Map of Places to see and walking in Lakshman Jhula, Rishikesh
Begin the walk from the slopes above Laxman Jhula. This area is a hangout of western backpackers, which means you will see a mandatory German Bakery, restaurants selling cuisine from all over the world, a few bookshops, internet cafes and shops selling all kind of souvenirs. Once you get near the bridge, walk down to River Ganga by descending the steps and spend some time sitting on the rocks or playing in the water. The River is usually shallow in most of the places between the hanging bridges – Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula.
Cross Laxman Jhula, taking your time to admire the river upstream emerging from the mountains, widening itself and mellowing down just after the bridge. The bridge tends to be busy – cows occasionally join the crowds of people crossing the bridge, which seem to amuse the first time tourists from the west. And their reactions of having their ‘India Moments’ – in shooting the cow with a digicam or a camcorder – can amuse you. A few monkeys keep performing acrobatics along the bridge, or on the trees near them.
Across the bridge, located on the south bank are the tall Trayambakeshwar Temple and Swarg Niwas. Visit them if you wish to or turn right after the bridge and head towards Ram Jhula. Just after the bridge are a few tea stalls and shops that block your views of the river. Riverbed behind these shops is has some fine sand where you can walk down, or sit and kill some time.
Walking further on the path takes you to a peaceful wooded area. Lookout for birds here. Jungle Babblers are almost always seen, and a few hornbills and parakeets if you are lucky.
Buildings start appearing again when you reach Swargashram area near Ram Jhula. If you want to refuel, nearby Chotiwala restaurant is a good place to stop for coffee or a quick bite. Turn right here to go towards the river and to Ram Jhula. Walk on the bridge. You can see a few children selling small packs of tiny wheat balls on the bridge for feeding the fish – Masheer – that are gathered in a big group in the waters below, waiting for the feed. Buy a few packs and drop them into the river one-by-one.
Cross the bridge, turn left, get down to the river and take the boat ride to return to south bank again. Walk westwards on the small lane crowded with gem shops, internet centers, cafes and travel agents. Walk past Geetha Bhavan till you reach Parmarth Niketan Ashram. If it is 5.30pm or later, you will see a few people preparing the river bank for the evening’s Ganga Aarti – a ritual of worshipping the Ganges. Sit somewhere on the steps leading into the river and wait for the Aarti to begin. Aarti starts at 6pm and continues till 7. Watch people gather and pray together and sway the lights(aarti) to the tune of the prayers.
Once it is all over, sit back for a few minutes and enjoy your quiet moments on the river bank, listening to the soft gurgling sound of the river.
It is time to head back from here. If you are staying in town, you can catch a rickshaw to get back from the Taxi Stand on the other side of Ram Jhula.
++ More about Rishikesh on paintedstork.com