History of Rishikesh: Rishikesh is a town situated in the Dehradun District of Uttarakhand state in India. Rishikesh has been the centre of spiritual & religious activities since ancient times. This place is situated on the right bank of river Ganga & it is surrounded on all sides by beautiful hills. There are several mythological stories associated with this place. There is a small story behind calling this place as Rishikesh. According to Skanda Puran this area was known as “Kubjamrak”. It was here in Rishikesh a famous saint named Raibhya Rishi who performed penance on the banks of the river Ganga. As a reward for his strong penance God Vishnu appeared to him in the form of Hrishikesh and so the place was referred by the name Hrishikesh which later became famous by the name of Rishikesh. Besides this there is specific story associated with specific place of Rishikesh such as Triveni ghat, Bharat Temple, Lakshman Jhula etc.
Rishikesh a spiritual city: Rishikesh is a holy place situated at the foothills of the Himalayas along the banks of the sacred river Ganges. As a pilgrimage point, it greets many devout Hindus and wandering saints (holy men). Many come to bathe in the sanctified waters of the Ganges. It is believed that people bath in this holy river for expiation of their sins. You will find many people chanting over here. The religious ceremonies start around 4 am & the chants of people float across the water until well after dark. During night time Ganga aarti ceremonies is performed hundreds of camphor flame leaf boats float on the river. People offer camphor flame & flowers during aarti in river.
Why is Rishikesh famous for Yoga Center: Rishikesh had been the home town of many saints or Rishis who were the originators of yoga. Hence, you will easily find many ashrams & yoga centers in Rishikesh. The origin of yoga is very old during ancient times the knowledge of yoga was handled down form Guru (spiritual teacher) to Shishya (Spiritual student). The ultimate aim of yoga is to reach “Kaivalya”, which means ultimate freedom from materialistic world. Human life is analysed as ultimately full of sorrows and pain. Sometimes we are happy & sometimes filled with which depends on the situation of this materialistic world. Nothing is permanent in this world. Yoga is therefore a spiritual quest. By yoga, the aspirant not only gains health, happiness, tranquility but also knowledge of spiritual world which is timeless & free of sorrows. However the material world is not free of these. The peaceful & relaxing environment of Rishikesh favors meditation. It is known as “Yoga Capital of the World”. Many western students come over here & learn yoga in ashrams. Rishikesh hosts an “International Yoga Festival” which is held every year in the first week of February. Lectures and yoga lessons are conducted by experts in this field during which yoga teachers from different parts of the country participate and many people come from different parts of the country to attend this. Attending satsangs and meditation sessions also form a major part of the yoga festival in the city of Rishikesh. Ganga aarti is another religious ceremony celebrated during the yoga festival in Rishikesh.