Rishikesh: Trace the Beatles Trail, with Saloni Gulati
Updated: Feb 21, 2022
The land of river, rituals, and great new adventures.
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Hi! I am Saloni, 25 years old, and on a mission to explore our Incredible India.
I started my Instagram Journey as a traveler to share my travel experiences and inspire women in India to get out of their comfort zone and explore the world. It was also, for fulfilling my travel dreams, as it helps me make money and sustain my travel lifestyle.
For me, Travelling to Rishikesh has always been a delight! I have been there in almost all the seasons.
Getting to know Rishikesh
Situated in the lower Himalayas, Rishikesh is a fusion of fun and piousness, which is why the city holds two names- the Adventure Capital of India and the Yoga Capital of the World.
The rivers and mountains set the scenery for yoga, hikes,scooter and of course rafting. If you are looking to experience nature spiritually along with some adventure, this is the perfect place for you.
Fun Fact: The legendary music band ‘The Beatles’, when spiritually exhausted with fame, attempted the ‘Transcendental Meditation’ in Rishikesh in 1968. During this process, the band wrote 48 songs which hit the records in huge numbers.
Best time to visit:
Winter & Spring (October-April) are the ideal seasons to visit Rishikesh as the weather is pleasant, complimenting the picturesque landscape.
Try avoiding June – September as June can be very hot, and it rains from July-September which makes river rafting inaccessible
How to plan your day in Rishikesh
Spend your first day exploring the famous tourist places like Laxman Jhula, the main market, and cafes that line the riverside. Visit temples and ashrams like Tera Manzil temple and the Beatles ashram. Also, don’t miss a beautiful sunset and evening aarti ceremonies on the bank of the Ganges River at Triveni Ghat.
Start your day early and don’t miss the sunrise at Kunjapuri sunrise point near Kunjapuri temple (a 30 minutes drive from Rishikesh). It offers a 180 degrees views of the greater Himalayas.
Return to Rishikesh, freshen up, have breakfast, and head out for river rafting. Along with river rafting, you can also indulge in activities like bungee jumping, cliff jumping, kayaking, and flying foxes. End your day in any of the lovely cafés alongside the river.
There are many enchanting waterfalls in and near Rishikesh like Vashishta Gufa, the hidden gem of the city (A popular place for meditation lovers that offer calm and serene surroundings).
Visiting the falls
Beautiful waterfalls that you can visit nearby- Neer Garh waterfall, Patna waterfall and Garud Chatti waterfall. If your trip is longer, add others for the next day. I went to Neer Garh waterfall and after that headed towards Kyarki and kothli village.
Tip: Begin your day early and try to reach there before sunset
How I held on the boat through the waves
River rafting on the Ganges is an experience of a lifetime. Rishikesh is one of the best places to raft on Ganga. The 16 kilometre stretch from Shivpuri to Laxman Jhula has rapids of all intensities and with interesting names like Return To Sender, Roller Coaster etc. The currents here are very strong but the best part about rafting in Rishikesh is that people with no skill and zero experience (me being one of them) can also try their hand at it.
Book your rafting adventure through any online website or you can contact them in the city through locals, you will find many Centers that take you for group rafting. After that, they will arrange a pickup for you to reach Marine Drive, the starting point of your rafting experience. They will provide you with gears like life jacket and paddles and will update you with the the safety measures like the right way of paddling and what to do when you fall? I was scared to be honest when they told us that we can actually fall from the raft but at the same time was very excited to experience it. I was seated at the second place on the right side of the raft adjacent to a friend who was on the left side of the raft and was not scared at all!
The guide on our raft instructed us to sail forward and we started rowing our raft. It was all fun and easy until the first rapid. We could see the waves getting wilder from the distance. I was scared but kept rowing as hard as I could, and soon we found ourselves combating the strong current.
On the second rapid, the guide told us that it’s tough, so be prepared. The water roar was louder than before , we were trying to paddle harder but suddenly the guy infront of me fell into the water, we were obviously scared but the guide helped him get back on the raft, I can’t even begin to explain the panic and struggle of that moment. After a while, our guide told us we can jump in the water if we wanted to because at that point the water flow was normal. Most of the people on the boat went down but I was pretty content in watching them than jumping deep.
Then we had to cross the last rapid which was relatively easy. After that, we came to the end point, left our rafts and gears and boarded the bus to our rooms.
It was an extremely fun and one-of-a-kind experience.
Per day budget - ₹3500 approx
Meals - ₹800 for 3 meals (eating at cafes and dhabas)
Transport - Scooty - ₹500 per day
Extra activities like rafting / Beatles Ashram - ₹200-800
River rafting fees - starts from ₹800
Stay - ₹2000 per night
(Please note - I was travelling alone and preferred to stay in a private double bedroom, if you stay in a dorm, the expense will be much less)
Tips to cut down expenses:
Plan your mode of travel – If you’re going from Delhi, I would suggest travelling by road. Taking a Volvo is a convenient option and takes around 5-6 hours to reach. Volvo bus ticket will cost you around ₹600-800 per person depending on the quality /service.
Commute within city - If you are not taking your own vehicle, rent a bike or scooty to explore the local places instead of booking a taxi or auto. Scooty will cost you around ₹400-500 per day while a taxi or auto ride can cost you twice as much and even then, you won’t be able to explore properly.
Prefer a Hostel over a hotel when travelling solo
Staying in a hostel (pre checked and surveyed) is always more economical than booking a hotel and you also get to meet several travellers and know about newer and rarer locations.
I stayed at Hosteller which is one of the best hostels in Rishikesh. It is safe and budget friendly, even the private room with double bed will not cost you more than 2200 INR.
I chose a Deluxe Double room which costed me around 2000 INR per night (without meal).
You can also explore other options like Dormitory (₹500 per person)
and superior cottage (₹2500).
They do have a separate female dormitory as well. They also offer workation package for long stays (more than a week) - around 12500 per week for a private room and 3000 per week for a dorm.
Benefits of residing at Hosteller:
The property is located in tapovan, which is one of the most peaceful areas around Rishikesh. You can go for an early morning walk up to the hills and witness the whole land in front. Basic amenities are easily accessible as there are many shops around, Lakshman Jhula is 20 mins from here and Beatles Ashram is about 30 mins away. The best part is that you can easily rent out bikes/scooty as the renting service is just outside the property.
Overall, my experience at the property was wonderful. The community managers and staff are very polite, cooperative and made sure that I had a good time there. They even set up a bonfire with live music in the common area for all their guests.
Budget friendly - Zostel and Bluejay Hostels (both offer dorm stay as well as private rooms)
Dorms ₹500 per person ; Private rooms- upto ₹2000 per room (without meals)
Luxury - Aloha on the Ganges
₹8000-10000 per room including breakfast (depending on the season)
Cafe hopping by the bank
1.Ganga beach Café - near 13 Story Temple, Laxman Jhula (estimated cost ₹500 for two)
2.The Beatles Cafe, Paidal Marg, Tapovan Sarai, Laxman Jhula, near Hanuman Mandir (estimated cost ₹600 for two) — has a terrace with river view, 60s theme
3.Freedom Cafe, Near Laxman Jhula, (estimated cost ₹500 for two) has a beautiful river view. (Must try their cold coffee)
4.Cafe brew master - hotel peepal tree tapovan, ₹500 for two, (must try - hot coffee and brownie)
Other famous and authentic restaurants:
1.Dada’s Thali (dada ki thali) - location- Tapovan Jonk, it’s more like a dhaba but serves thali with unlimited simple and tasty food
2. Chotiwala by the Ganges - near ram jhula, very famous as it’s a family run restaurant for half a century. It’s a multi cuisine restaurant, cost - 600 for two (must try their Gulab jamun).
The inescapable part of this place is the person who portrays himself as Chotiwala with a painted face outside the restaurant and happily lets visitors take pictures with him.
3.The Sitting Elephant - this cafe is in the main city, Haridwar road, pallika nagar, cost — ₹1000 for two - ganga view
What to pack for Rishikesh?
It can get quite hot in summers and extremely chilly in winters as Rishikesh is on the banks of Ganga. For summers, loose clothes like a cotton lower or shorts with a tank top or t-shirt are good and comfortable to go. I went there in August, it was monsoon. The weather was so beautiful, the mountains were covered with clouds and there was greenery all around. The days were warm, and nights were a bit chilly due to rains. Carry an umbrella or raincoat if possible. Else, you can easily get them from the local market.
A puffer jacket and a warmer are must to carry for winters as the temperature can drop to 5-6 degrees in winter.
Clothes & Footwear:
Wear clothes that are comfortable to commute in.
Oversized sweaters or sweatshirts will always make you feel warm and also add up a pinch of style to your day
If you plan to go rafting, do carry a proper and covered pair of footwear (preferably waterproof), wearing a sandal or slip-ons is not a good idea.
Wear shoes throughout as you will be on your toes all day and you don't need your feet to tire you out.
When traveling solo, always remember to pack light as the more the number of bags in hand, the less space you have for fun!
Safety & other accessories:
Things to carry as a solo female traveller
Always carry pepper spray, a torch with extra batteries, a power bank and menstrual cups in a handbag or fanny pack.
A first aid kit, especially if you are traveling alone, you may not find medical stores everywhere on the hill stations so better to keep all the basic medicines with you to be on a safer side.
Must carry an umbrella / raincoat and rain shoes if you are travelling around July – September.
Also, if you want to enroll for yoga and meditation practices, carry comfortable yoga wear accordingly.
Documentation to carry (ID card etc):
Carry your address proof (ID card) with you for the check-ins, driving license (in case you wish to rent out bike/scooty) and covid vaccination certificate.
Tips for women:
Clashing with your period dates?
I remember it was my first day of my period when we went for a hike to Patna waterfall. I experienced severe cramps on day 1, and still can’t believe that I was able to reach the waterfall and then come back.
I did a few breathing exercises, took a few halts in between the hike and then I was good to go. Carry a painkiller along with you just in case it gets unbearable.
It was my second day of period when I went for river rafting, and to be honest I was quite scared about the overflow. Try to stick to dark coloured lowers that keep your comfortable and carefree.
The washrooms at the accommodation were very clean and hygienic (in both private rooms and dorms)
The public washrooms are not well maintained, so try and carry portable stand and pee equipment or sanitizer with you.
Rishikesh is quite safe, but you should always be alert and prepared to your fullest. Always carry some self-defence tools like pepper spray and avoid going alone at night (after 10pm). You will not find much crowd at night as markets usually close by 9 - 10pm
In case of an emergency, you should reach out to:
Women helpline number (Uttarakhand) - 9411112780 (24x7 WhatsApp Helpline Service) and 180018041111 (toll free)
Save it NOW!!!!
Leaving you with a zeal to visit again!
Thank you for going through my little journey, hope it was helpful! I put up a fairly detailed description so that anyone of you looking for a similar guide before planning a trip can have an insight of what its like to travel in that city. I also believe that exploring a new place by yourself should be a well thought and curated journey as it opens you to new possibilities in life. So, in the spirit of travel and adventure, I hope you will not only take away from this guide, but add in your own essence of how you visited that place because everyone experiences a place, especially mountains, in their own way. Lastly, I would like to emphasize – Explore and Travel, but sustainably. Take good care of you utilities and have the time of your life!
For more, you can also request a 1:1 Trip Consultation with me! Apply here.