As a destination abuzz with visitors throughout the year, Rishikesh offers itself as a holy city located in the land of Uttarakhand. Also known as the ‘yoga capital of the world,’ Rishikesh attracts many tourists, mainly searching for peace and calm. Devotees from all over the world visit Rishikesh, famous for its mystical temples. Neelkanth Mahadev is one such ancient temple in Rishikesh that hosts two important annual fairs.
The legend of Neelkanth Mahadev is long known and is highly famous amongst the Shiva devotees. If you plan to visit a peaceful place soon, this article might be of great help to you!
I was staying at Adventura Palm valley resort and I always wanted to cover Neelkanth Mahadev on foot. Yes, you hear it right on foot. This temple is around 13 KM from the campsite. So I started early and left my camp. The campsite was completely booked because of Holi, so I had to pitch my own tent.
I walked all the way from my campsite to Neelkanth, approx 11 KM uphill.
History of Neelkanth Mahadev in Rishikesh
One of the most famous incidents in the history of Hindu mythology is the occurrence of Samudra Manthan.
Dating back to the era of asuras and devas, the renowned episode marked the churning of the ocean. The churning of the sea was an attempt to pursue Amrit- the holy nectar.
Little was it known that a noticeable amount of poison accompanied the market. The toxicity of the venom was such that it could quickly destroy all forms of creation.
Lord Shiva decided to consume the poison with no option left, also called ‘Halalal.’ But instead of swallowing the poison, Lord Shiva kept it in his throat, which led to inflammation.
His throat turned blue, hence giving him the name, Neelkanth. To reduce the pain and inflammation in his throat, Lord Shiva decided to meditate underneath a Peepal tree. He meditated under it for about 60,000 years and established a holy clod called Pind. This is where the Neelkanth Mahadev temple is located now.
Where is Neelkanth Mahadev located?
Neelkanth Mahadev is situated amidst a dense forest at an altitude of 1675 m on the hilltop of Swarg Ashram.
The temple is about 32 km from the sacred city in Uttarakhand, Rishikesh. Inside the holy place sits the Shivalingam, known to be ages old. The glorious Shivalingam is beautifully decorated with fresh flowers and fruits every day.
The temple’s outer walls are decorated with carvings related to the churning of the ocean (Samudra Manthan). An 11 km trek is also available to reach the temple via Swarga Ashram. The trekking route is a steep climb up the hill.
How to reach Neelkanth Mahadev temple?
From Rishikesh to Neelkanth Mahadev:
- The Neelkanth Mahadev shrine is 32 km from Rishikesh city center and 25 km from Lakshman Jhula. You can get rental scooters and jeeps to reach Neelkanth Mahadev temple from Lakshman Jhoola.
- The roads are extra curvy and narrow, so precautions must be exercised if self-driving. The way to the temple does have many shops, and only a limited variety of food options might be available.
From other parts of India to Rishikesh:
- One can easily reach Rishikesh city center by air as the place is located 43 km from the nearest airport, Jolly Grant Airport. The airport is well connected to all other major cities of India, including Delhi, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Mumbai, etc. Also, taxis and cabs are available from the airport to the city center.
- Regular trains are also available from nearly all parts of India to Rishikesh. Public transport or cabs can be booked to reach the city center from the Rishikesh Railway Station.
- Buses and cabs to Rishikesh are available from the main destinations of Uttarakhand like Dehradun, Haridwar, Srinagar, Tehri, Uttarkashi, etc. Rishikesh is situated on National Highway 58, which connects Badrinath. Buses also ply from other parts of North India to Rishikesh.
Best time to visit Neelkanth Mahadev in Rishikesh
The best time to visit Neelkanth Mahadev is from February-March or July-August.
The primary reason behind this is that Mahashivratri and Kanwar Yatra are the two main festivals celebrated here. Mahashivratri is a famous Hindu festival celebrated in February or March that celebrates Lord Shiva or the Adi Yogi.
Two fairs are held at Neelkanth Mahadev on Mahashivratri and Shravan Shivratri (July-August). Another popular celebration is the Kanwar Yatra which is the annual pilgrimage of Lord Shiva’s devotees.
They gather holy water from River Ganga and carry it to the temple. This celebration also takes place in the monsoon months, July and August. Hence, these months constitute the best time to visit the sacred Neelkanth Mahadev temple.
What is the weather like at Neelkanth Mahadev in Rishikesh?
The weather at Neelkanth Mahadev is usually calm and breezy from March to September. As the place is located on a hilltop and surrounded by numerous trees, the weather here remains quite pleasant.
During the Mahashivratri celebration in February-March, the site experiences moderate temperatures with a cool breeze.
Available food options near Neelkanth Mahadev in Rishikesh
Every place has some of the other sumptuous delicacies to offer. And so is the case with Rishikesh. The area is famous for the traditional dishes of Uttarakhand. If you are visiting Neelkanth Mahadev in Rishikesh soon, do try the following words:
- Kafuli: This is a mouthwatering dish from the hills of Uttarakhand. It involves a blend of spinach and fenugreek leaves with salt and spices. This dish is usually presented with gravy that is prepared from rice paste. Kafuli is a rich source of Vitamins A, C, and E.
- Chainsoo: Rishikesh is the gateway to Garhwal, a place known for its traditional dishes. Chainsoo is a pahari dish that is prepared using urad dal. The dish is made by toasting the pulses and blending to make a fine paste. The dish offers a strong taste of garlic and coriander.
- Dubuk: Do you wish to try out the most famous Pahari dish? Dubuk it is then. This winter dish is prepared using Arhar dal or bhaat ki dal. The dish has a thick consistency and is served with bhang ki chutney. Bhaang ki chutney is ready using bhang seeds, cumin, hemp, lemon, chilies, and tamarind.
- Arsa: If you have a sweet tooth, you must try Arsa. Arsa is a sweet dish famous in every household of the region. It is prepared using simple ingredients like cane sugar, rice, and mustard oil. Arsa forms a vital part of the cuisine for every celebration?
- Aloo Gutook: Served along with Kumaoni raita, pooris, and bhang ki chutney, Aloo Gutook is a regional delicacy of Uttaranchal. It is prepared using steamed potatoes. The potatoes are garnished with tossed red chilies, coriander, and spices.
The state of Uttarakhand is visited by thousands of tourists, mainly for its attractions. Some of the best places to visit in and around Rishikesh are:
- Triveni Ghat: The Triveni Ghat is located within the holy city of Rishikesh and is famous for the Ganga Aarti performed here every evening. Devotees visit the place to experience the positive aura of the aarti and hymns. Also, the pilgrims take a holy dip in the waters of the Ganga. The location is well connected to the railway station, airport, and bus stop.
- Lakshman Jhoola: It is a 450 feet long bridge that connects Tehri to Pauri. The bridge is built over the holy river Ganga and offers excellent views of Rishikesh. Various shops are set up at each side of the bridge that offers traditional and religious items. Trayambakeshwar Temple is located near the Lakshman Jhoola and is visited by many tourists.
- Ram Jhoola: Ram Jhoola is another bridge built over the Ganges but more prominent than the Lakshman Jhoola. Lakshman Jhoola is located 2 km upstream as compared to Ram Jhoola. The Ram Jhoola is an essential landmark in Rishikesh, and many ashrams are located nearby the bridge.
- Dev Prayag: If you search for calmness, Dev Prayag should be on your visiting list. The place is marked by the confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi. The location is blessed with lush green surroundings and deep rivers. The place also offers water activities and trekking. Apart from the beautiful sights at Dev Pragyag, the Raghunath Temple and the Chandrabani Temple are other tourist attractions here.
- Rajaji National Park: The place has a plethora of flora and fauna and remains open to the public from Mid-November to Mid-June. This park is famous for more than three hundred species of birds and also for the enchanting beauty it offers. The place also allows accommodation in the forest rest houses located within the forest. This place is another tourist place near the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple in Rishikesh.
If anybody wishes to experience ultimate positive vibes in today’s busy routines, then Neelkanth Mahadev temple is the place. Although the city of Rishikesh is filled with tourists all year round, this place still never fails to amaze everybody with its calm and beauty.
Visiting the Neelkanth Mahadev temple can be a lifetime experience for many devotees as the saga of the place is unmatched. If you are visiting Rishikesh, visit the Neelkanth Mahadev temple to get amazed by the aura and fantastic architecture.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What does Neelkanth Mahadev have to offer?
Beautiful forests and soothing rivers envelop the Neelkanth Mahadev temple. The place offers a sense of calm to all its visitors.
- What are the timings for visiting the Neelkanth Mahadev temple in Rishikesh?
The temple is open from 6 am to 9 pm on all 365 days.
- What are the accommodation options near Neelkanth Mahadev in Rishikesh?
Many hotels and homestays are available near the temple. These places also offer a range of food items.
- Is there any fee to enter the temple?
No, the entry to Neelkanth Mahadev temple is free for all devotees.
- When are the annual fairs held at Neelkanth Mahadev Temple?
Mahashivratri is celebrated with great vigor in the months of February-March. Also, the Kanwar Yatra is celebrated here in July-August.
Any questions related to Neelkanth Mahadev please drop them in the comment section below.