‘Ancient Mangrove Cave in Rishikesh’
Far away from the madness of the city lies the Vashishta Gufa which is one of the best places to meditate in Rishikesh. This ancient cave is nestled on the banks of river Ganga and is hidden in the midst of a thick grove of Gular (Ficus) tree. A flight of 200 steps will take you to Vashita Gufa.
Inside Vashishta Cave:
The entrance of Vashishta Gufa is well lit but as one steps further, the cave becomes pitch black. The cave is clean, well maintained and its floor is strewn with white mats that can seat 12 people at a time. One can see a Shivlinga installed at the end of the cave. The only source of light is the flickering oil lamp. The cave is cool and the aroma of burning incense sticks lingers in the air. It’s a very nice place to indulge in meditation.
Mythology related to Vashishta Gufa:
As per the Hindu legends, it is the same site where the great sage Vashishta meditated during his stay in Rishikesh. Revered as one of the greatest Vedics, Rishi Vashishta was one of the Saptrishis (Seven Great Sages or Rishis) and the guru of Lord Rama. It is believed that after the sad demise of his children, sage Vashishta tried to commit suicide in the Ganga river.
But his plea was refused by Goddess Ganga. Arundhati, the wife of sage Vashishta was spellbound by the beauty of this place and decided to stay here. To overcome the grief, Sage Vashishta and Arundhati immersed themselves in meditation at this place for over a hundred years.
History of Vashishta Gufa:
It is believed that Swami Purushottamananda Ji, a famous Hindu saint visited here in the 20th century. Later an ashram was built near the cave which is known as Swami Purushottamanand Ashram where many devotees come for meditation. Currently, the ashram and cave are managed by Swami Purushottamananda Ji Trust.
About Vashishta Gufa:
Vashishta Gufa is a naturally formed caved which is 60 feet deep and has a Shivlinga inclined vertically into the cave opening. There are several rooms built outside the cave area which has become a permanent stay for the Sadhus. Since the cave temple is situated in the midst of a dense thicket you can explore the wilderness.
Things to do in and around Vashishta Gufa:
Although Vashishta Gufa is a place to offer prayer and engage in spirituality. But one can also delve deep into the surroundings that offer amplitude of adventure opportunities. The wooded beauty near Vashishta Cave is perfect for camping, trekking, bird watching, and star gazing. Go for village walks to Gular, a tiny hamlet located near the ashram or relax on the beach near the river.
There is a small cave outside the ashram which is known as “Arundhati Cave”. On the other side, you can see an iron suspension bridge near Gular village from where you can cross the river. If you have ample time, then visit some of the nearby attractions like Neer Ghattu waterfall at 2.5 km away and Shivpuri a famous river-rafting and camping site at 11 km away.
When to visit Vashishta Gufa:
Vashishta Gufa can be visited throughout the year since the weather is always pleasant here.
Timings to Visit Vashishta Cave:
The visiting timings of Vashishta Gufa are from (9 am to 12 pm) and from (3 pm to 6 pm). The cave remains close between (12 pm to 3 pm).
Transportation Options: Cab/Auto
Trip Duration: 1-2 hours
Food: Few tea shops located nearby
Petrol Pump: Available at Shivpuri
How to Reach Vashishta Gufa in Rishikesh:
The Vashishta Cave is located about 20-25 km away from Rishikesh and only 6 km from Shivpuri. Follow the Rishikesh–Badrinath highway route which will only take an hour to reach here. Buses, jeep and taxis are available to Vashishta Gufa from Rishikesh. Rishikesh railway station at 25 km away is the nearest railhead and Jolly Grant airport Dehradun at 39 km away is the closest air connectivity from here.