My Rishikesh trip was 14 day long which includes 2 days of travelling to & fro from Mumbai. 1 day of travelling to and from Mussourie to Rishikesh (I haven’t included Mussourie expenses in this article). All this was done under a fair budget of INR 12000. This includes 2nd tier AC train fare from Mumbai and one-side flight fare from Delhi to Mumbai. Start-to-end trip expenses. It could’ve been a lot cheaper. But since it was an impulsive plan I ended up spending some extra bucks?
This budget guide is for backpackers who are looking for a budget trip and actually wants to experience the best of Rishikesh at minimal costs.
I am explaining all the aspects in details with various possibilities and travelling insights of all these aspects. It’s gonna be a lengthy one. Grab some munchies ?
You can reach Rishikesh via train, bus or air. I suggest you do it via train because travelling from the Jolly Grant airport into the city will be expensive. The bus (if it suits you) is the best option according to me. But, only if you’re travelling from surrounding areas or states. I traveled from Mumbai via Haridwar Express (Train # 12171) which leaves from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus. The commute time is 30 hours. Once you reach Haridwar station, you need to walk out of the station ( do not speak to cab drivers standing near the bridge) and find Vikrams or better called as Tuk-Tuks.
Tuk-Tuk drivers will charge you somewhere between INR 60-100 depending upon where you want to go in Rishikesh. I had to go till Paidal Marg, Laxman Jhula. I ended up paying 80 bucks for the same. Make use of Google Maps on the same, you will get a fair idea of how much you’re getting charged for getting dropped at a certain distance.
If you’re planning in advance then you can book a flight to Delhi airport at cheap prices (as cheap as 1700 bucks from Mumbai to Delhi). From Delhi airport, you can go to Kashmere Gate (ISBT), an Ola will charge you somewhere between 250-400 bucks depending upon the peak hour charges and take a bus to Rishikesh ISBT. From Rishikesh ISBT, you will get rickshaws at INR 100-150 (not-sharing, sharing ones will be even cheaper). Again, depending upon where you want to go. While coming back from Mussourie, I reached ISBT and walked till Chandrabhaga Bridge (10 mins. walk) and took a tuk-tuk from there which costed me 15 bucks till Paidal Marg, Laxman Jhula.
Staying in Rishikesh
Rishikesh got loads of hotels, hostels and dharamshalas. I stayed at a cool, newly-opened, hip hostel dorm located at prime spot near Laxman Jhula with a river view for INR 300-350 a night depending upon the dorm size. The hostel is – Raahi The Travellers Nest.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
The owner of the hostel Kaustubh & the caretaker Suraj are really awesome! They will cater to your needs and make sure you feel at home. This hostel and hostel-mates felt more like family and all these aspects of this place made sure I didn’t feel homesick. The dorms, lobby & restrooms are washed and cleaned on daily basis. It was delightful staying there. Beware of monkeys. They won’t harm you but will definitely take your juices and fruits. Hostel Raahi also got private rooms in case you like your own room.
Food in Rishikesh
Rishikesh was food heaven for me because only vegetarian food is served within the city limits. Non-vegetarian food and consuming alcohol is not allowed and this comes under a legal obligation from the state government. In Rishikesh, you will find expensive cafes as well as reasonably costed Dhabas. I preferred a mix and match of both for my daily meals. I love North Indian food and since it was my first solo trip; staying away from home for such a long period of time was difficult. I need to have home-cooked food. There are several dhaba like restaurants which serve food so appetizing that it will just blow your taste buds. I use to have 4 meals a day. I also suggest, keep consuming fruits and dry fruits at regular intervals to maintain your energy. You can buy fruits enough for one day for INR 70 – INR 100. It can be more than that as well again depending upon which fruit you wana eat or like to eat (I was carrying dry-fruits so the cost for the same is not calculated). Breakfast/brunch (depending up on when I wake up), lunch, evening snacks, dinner. Breakfast and snacks can be eaten at fancy cafes. Lunch and dinner at dhaba/restaurants. You can check out the following places –
Bhandari Restaurant for some kick-ass North Indian food.
60s Cafe for gluten-free and vegan food.
Treehouse Cafe for amazing smoothies, milkshakes, more cold and hot beverages. Also they have pretty amazing musicians coming in on Friday or Saturday nights (I don’t remember exactly, I think it was Saturday night) as Yoga students all around have a holiday from their respective Yoga Ashrams or Schools.
India Delight Cafe for good Italian, Chinese & Mexican food. Also, sunset ghat (not the official name) is right next to India Delight Cafe where musicians jam in the evenings. It is crazy! Do try their Paneer Chilly and Rice. Meet Puran Rawat there, he is a very sweet guy.
Average meal at a dhaba restaurant should cost between INR 150-250 and INR 350-450 at a cafe, depending upon your diet (contains main course, dessert and lassi/chaas).
Commuting within Rishikesh
The best way to commute around Rishikesh is by walking, hiking and use of shared Tuk-Tuks. You can also rent two-wheelers for an average cost of 300 bucks a day. I suggest hiking to the nearby waterfalls. Walking to the cafes and either sides of Ganga river via Ram Jhula & Laxman Jhula. Walking/Hiking around is good for health and it will enable you to explore/enjoy streets more efficiently. You will come across some amazing street graffiti arts, local shops and the amazing sugarcane juice stalls. The sugarcane juice is super refreshing during the afternoon heat in the summers.
It was kind of scary to walk around during late evenings for me (after 10:30 – 11 PM) because I keep reading news articles about how people get mugged and killed. It kinda got spooky for me (can’t help the superficial thought-process) and I feel it is okay to be scared because somehow it helps you find an inner balance and sense of securing your own-self with help of your instincts. It can be liberating! I still am scared of walking through the secluded, spooky trails during late evenings but I know I am gonna overcome this by my next trip. And even if you are scared of it, that’s completely fine! You don’t have to be ashamed of it; doesn’t matter what your friends or whoever has to say. If you wana do it, just do it. It’s amazing to connect with yourself at each level, you know. ?
Adventure Sports in Rishikesh
Image Source: Siddharth Nagi (Flickr)
There are couple of activities that can be done and is super-fun! Bungee Jumping, Cliff Diving and the freaking RIVER RAFTING (If you have seen the video, yes I thought I died ?). If you haven’t watched the video then I suggest you watch this and proceed further!
This experience of rafting is awesome, isn’t it? The river-rafting on weekdays in pretty cheap i.e., INR 450 for 16 KM long route and INR 600-700 for 26 KM long route. Over the weekends (Sat-Sun-Mon), it shoots up-to INR 850 & INR 1000 for 16 KM and 26 KM route respectively. To be frank, meri fatt gayi thi! But it was so cool. Quite literally! (I chickened out before the Level 4 Rapid Current Washing Machine. And, then I along with 6 others hiked for 5 KM till Laxman Jhula ?. Cliff jumping is also a part of river rafting and is covered under the same package.
Bungee Jumping is handled only by one company called Jumpin’ Heights and the cost for the same in INR 4000 for a jump from the height of 83 meters. I think its slightly expensive and to maintain my budget I didn’t go for it.
Shopping in Rishikesh
There are a shops all over which sell handicraft, wooden, spiritual and products associated to God & Goddesses. Haggling is the key to get the best prices. I am bad at it but I have carefully observed a lot of aunties and uncles proving themselves to be pro at it. Bangles, hand made purses, damrus, beautiful & light wooden boxes (to keep jewellery or your smoking stuff, whatever floats your boat), brass and metal idols/showpieces at really amazing prices.
Since, I was scared of walking across the secluded, spooky trails I bought somethings related to Lord Shiva i.e., A Trishul (I am a Lord Shiva obsessed-fan) and stuck it on my bag for moral support (kind of moral support, ok?) and I also got a small Damru from one of the shops. On a serious note, it gives you a moral power and strength from within to face your fears and conquer em’ big time. Har Har Mahadev!
You can work out a budget of INR 1200 keep it aside for shopping. As a guy, I got 2 pair of Kurtas and Chinese Pyjamas for INR 700 (good quality) 100 bucks for Trishul, 50 bucks for Damru, 200-300 bucks for handmade beautiful purse and key-chains for mum and her friends.
In one line:
Rishikesh is like spirituality blended with yoga and hippie culture.
I think this was pretty much all the key-pointers to cover while planning your trip.