Rishikesh (the RISHI’s hair, or possibly a corrup-tion of, Hrishikesha, an epithet of ARJUNA) is an important Indian PILGRIMAGE center. Many SWAMIS taught or lived there, including SWAMI SHIVANANDA and the MAHARISHI MAHESH YOGI, who founded the TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION movement.
   Rishkesh lies in northern Uttar Pradesh in the foothills of the HIMALAYAS, on the GANGES. At the Triveni Ghat, the steps down to the Ganges, many offerings are made and ablutions done, for the Ganges is the purest of rivers, and at Rishikesh its water is very cold and fast. At sunset there is a custom there of setting little lamps adrift on the Ganges in worship to Ganga Devi, the river GOD-DESS. Rishikesh is filled at all times with swamis, SADHUS, mendicants, and peregrinating pilgrims who seek this holy shrine for purification and devotion. Rishikesh is not far from HARIDVAR and is a waystation for pilgrims going farther up the Himalayas to BADRINATH.
   Further reading: Augusthy Keemattam, The Hermits of Rishikesh: A Sociological Study (New Delhi: Inter-cultural, 1997); Reeta Khullar and Rupinder Khullar, Gateway to the Gods: Haridwar, Rishikesh, Yamunotri, Gangotri-Kedarnath-Badrinath (Dehradun: Uttaranchal Tourism and UBS Publisher’s Distributors, 2004).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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