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.