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This page has not been updated since June 2014.

Situated in the foothills of the Himalayas where the sacred river Ganges emerges from the Shivalik mountains the holy city of Rishikesh is rich in sacred significance for Hindus.

As well as many temples and ashrams the city has many yoga centres and ayurvedic treatment centres which add to the large number of pilgrims who come to bathe in the sacred river water. Rishikesh is also the starting point for the Char Dham pilgrimage, considered essential for Hindus at least once in a lifetime.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit Rishikesh every year to bathe in the Sacred Ganges and to attend evening candlelight ceremonies. However, the Ganges is polluted, there is little rubbish collection ad holy cows roam the streets eating plastic bags.

The vigour of the river flow at Rishikesh has also made it a centre for white water rafting and other adventure sports. The city was severely affected by the 2013 flooding caused by heavy rains in the montains with many casualties and damage to property. The famous riverside stone statue of Shiva meditating was washed away by the swollen River Ganges.

Progress so far

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati of Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh with students from the ashram.
The local Mayor and the Parmath Niketan Ashram, under Pujya Swami Chidandad Saraswati, joined the Green Pilgrimage Network at the extraordinary GPN meeting in Trondheim in 2013. They want Rishikesh to be a model Hindu city and the Parma Ashram to be the first Hindu green temple. Work has begun to draw up a long-term plan.

Hindus from Rishikesh took part in the first ever Hindu Environment Week in March 2014. A water blessing ceremony was held at the Parmarth Niketan ashram in Rishikesh (under the guidance of Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati) to raise awareness about the sanctity of water and issues facing the river Ganges. Later students from the ashram's school installed a bio-sand water purification system in a village school.

Useful links

Rishikesh website

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Related information

Green pilgrimage network members
The vision is of pilgrims on all continents and the pilgrim cities that receive them, leaving a positive footprint on the Earth
Hindu ecology
An outilne of Hindu teachings on the environment
June 11, 2013:
Delightful new play script helps spread the Green Pilgrimage message
A play script version of 'The Hidden Forest', Jahnavi Harrison's story about Hindu women going on pilgrimage in India, has been published. Suitable for schools the script can be downloaded from the ARC website.