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Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

Rishikesh has emerged as a popular tourist destination for people across the globe. Surely, being the “Yoga capital of the world”, it is meant to remain the center of attraction for people from all walks of life. This city will not leave you enchanted only with its temple and shrines, but this treasure trove is full of diverse factors that will make you visit this place again and again. So, a lot is known and heard about this beautiful city which is lodged between the gigantic Himalayas. But do you know the specific story behind the name of this city?

So, Hold on and let us unravel all the facts behind the naming of this Yoga Capital- “Rishikesh”.


Parmarth Niketan Rishikesh
Parmarth Niketan Rishikesh

If we break down the term, it says Rishi’s (Saint’s) hair. Rishikesh was formerly the epicentre of Tapasya ( penance).  Even, Lord Ram came here for penance after killing Ravan, and they crossed the Ganga, which is why we have Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula here.

So, being a Taposthali for searchers – Rishies – who used to practice their Tapas along the Holi Ganges and had long jatas or Kesh (hairs), this city acquired the name “Rishikesh”


Lord Vishnu With Maa Lakshmi
Lord Vishnu With Maa Lakshmi

Rishikesh is also spelt as Hrishikesh. This name refers to Vishnu appearing to Raibhaya Rishi as Lord Hrishikesh as a result of his austerities. According to the mythological legend, Lord Vishnu, in the avatar of Hayagriva, vanquished the demons Madhu and Kaitabha in the Satya Yuga. When the Lord walked into the jungle to do penance after slaying them, he came upon Rabhya Rishi meditating. According to the Skanda Purana, as a reward for the Saint’s spiritual practice, Vishnu appeared to him in the shape of Lord Hrishikesh and blessed the Rabhya Rishi, saying, “As long as you have practised Supreme austerity by controlling your senses, let Hrishikesh identify the area.” And this is the reason that still in Kalyug (The present era), this city is known as Rishikesh.


skand puran
Skanda Puran

Rishikesh finds its mention in Skand Puran, where this holy city is known as Kubjamrak. The legend behind this name suggests that Lord Vishnu appeared here leaning against a mango tree. This city got mentioned by many holy Indian texts. This City is the place where Lord Shiva after drinking poison ” Kaalkut” (which appeared during Samudra Manthan) and keeping it to his throat, has done meditation for thousands of years that place is called “Neelkanth” and shiva got his name Neelkanth Mahadeva.


Rishikesh takes its name from Hindu mythology and means “Lord of Senses”, which is synonymous with Lord Vishnu. Apart from its mythological significance, Rishikesh is undeniably an enlightening place to visit. With the Himalayas as a background and the clean Ganga flowing through it, Rishikesh can surely awaken and enlighten all of your senses. Thus, Rishikesh is an apt term for this city.


Article by

Vedika Mishra, Editor in Chief, Discover Uttarakhand Magazine

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