Last Updated on May 27, 2023 by Ellen
The quieter neighborhoods in Rishikesh are on opposite sides of the famous Ganga River between the two pedestrian bridges named Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula (also spelled Lakshman Jhula). These areas are close to the river and mountains, and away from the noisy, congested, modern Indian small city of Rishikesh proper. As of this writing, there is a temporary ferry at Laxman Jhula because of major repair work needed on the pedestrian suspension bridge, built in 1929.
Laxman Jhula closed for re-construction in July 2019. Bridge repairs are scheduled to be done in July 2023.
The temporary ferry helps people cross the holy Ganges River between between the Tapovan and Lakshman Jhula neighborhoods without walking on a busy road.
Tapovan is on a steep hill with twisting narrow roads that lead up to that busy main road, which becomes a two-lane ‘highway’ on either side of the neighborhood.
In addition to motorcycles, rickshaws, cars, trucks, and buses, cows can jam things up on ‘Highway 7’ and drivers are impatient, which makes it somewhat dangerous in narrow spots.
There are more hotels and restaurants and shops in Tapovan, but Laxman is a more pleasant walking experience. At least that’s true while Laxman Jhula is closed.
Unlike Tapovan, Laxman is relatively flat and runs along the Ganga. Motor traffic is limited but cows still rule the road.
Details: Ferry at Laxman Jhula
From Tapovan, the ferry leaves from Pebble Beach — whenever there are enough passengers.
From the Lakshman Jhula neighborhood, the ferry leaves from the ‘Boating Center’ when there are enough passengers. The Laxman boating center is the small white sand beach behind restaurants and shops.
Depending on the time of day, you might need to wait a half hour for your boat to fill up. Or, since there is only one boat that goes back and forth, the other side might have a queue, in which case the boat will cross empty from one side to scoop up a full load of passengers on the other side.
The cost is 40 rupees ($.50). The ride lasts two minutes.
Small point, but important for anyone with mobility issues: neither side has steps at the dock, so you are on your own to make a giant step. An Indian man waiting to board on the other side helped hoist me up.
I guess it’s possible an additional ferry at Laxman Jhula might handle cross-river traffic if the International Yoga Festival in March 2023 draws a lot of attendees this year following COVID.
Options aside from ferry at Laxman Jhula
There are two other budget ways to cross the Ganga to and from Tapovan. First, simply walk down the main busy road to the other pedestrian bridge, named Ram Jhula.
Or, walk east to the hardly-used car and pedestrian Neelkanth Bridge near the Patna Waterfall.
It is a gorgeous, easy walk on the Laxman side. However, this is a long walk on the busy two-lane ‘highway’ on the Tapovan side, as you can see from the map above.
You could try to flag down a bus, but they don’t always stop. A bus conductor from the Patna area to Tapovan charged me 50 rupees for two people – me and Mom Diane.
Once, from the Neel Waterfall turnoff, we hitchhiked back to Tapovan. No problem, if you’re open to that.
More expensive ways to cross the Ganga
If you are in a hurry, you can spend 400 rupees (less than $5) for a private boat ride at the Laxman Jhula crossing. You can go at anytime. Might be worth it if you are in a group…
Rickshaws are everywhere, and will be more than happy to charge you ??? for crossing another bridge (not pictured on the map above) southwest of Ram Jhula. I haven’t done that, so I don’t know the price.
In the grand scheme of things, neither of these last two options is ‘expensive’, but if you’re a budget traveler like me, and you want to cross every day – sometimes more than once – it would add up.
But what’s the rush? It’s more relaxing to go with the flow here.
In that flow, there is always something new to see, something new to entertain the mind, something odd to Western senses that tries to bend your understanding about the world — because after all, this is India.