The whole area (Garhwal) was famous as Kedarkhand in the past as mentioned in the Skanda Purana. As per the Skanda Purana the area is named as Kubjamrak because here lord Vishnu appeared to Raibhya Rishi under a mango tree. Raibhya Rishi selected the place for his long penance (Tapasya or austerity) Lord Vishnu was pleased by his act and appeared to the sage as a “Hrishikesh.” The word is combination of two word Hrishik and esh. Hrishik means senses and esh means god or master. It means god of senses. The Sthala Purana states as follows: “Raibhya Rishi preferred the sacredness and beauty of the place where Lord Vishnu appeared, so he remained there in the form of intense plants, which look like his matted locks. In consideration of this and the divine qualities of Raibhya Rishi, the area recognized as Rishi Kesha or Rishikesh, or the hair of the Rishi (Sage). Skanda Purana mention that the Lord Vishnu blessed Raibhya Rishi and gave him this divine message: “while you have performed supreme tapasya (austerities) by controlling your senses, let the place be recognized as Hrishikesha (Lord Hrishikesha, master of all senses).
The place is also mentioned as place where God Vishnu defeated the mighty demon Madhu. As per the Ramayana Lord Ram made hard penance for killing mighty demon Ravana. Lakshmana (Brother of Lord Rama) crossed the river by Jute Bridge which is known as Lakshman Jhula. The Jute Bridge was replaced by Iron suspension bridge in 1889. The bridge damaged in 1924 flood, than bridge was replaced by new bridge.
Legends also mention that the Lord Agni (God of fire) made penance for Lord Shiva. According to the legends Lord Shiva consumed poison (Halahal) which was obtained during sea churning (Samudra Manthan) along with the Nectar (Amrit). The place is now known as Nilkanth Mahadev Temple. Kunind was the first one to rule the area. Later Shak kings and Naga Kings ruled here. In 1398 Vatsraj was the king of the area. Ajaypal was the king during 1493 1500. During the 1804 to 1815 Gorkha Kings rule the whole area. After 1815 East India Company came here. After freedom the area is merged in Uttarpradesh. In November 2000 Uttaranchal became independent from Uttarpradesh. From January 2007 Uttranchal was named as a Uttarakhand.
In 1880 Swami Danaraj Giri established Kailash Ashram. Swami Sivananda (1887-1963) founder “The Devine Life Society” lived here in Muni Ki Reti for 03 decades. Parmarth Niketan is estab/>lished by Swami Shukdevanandji. The Beatles came to Rishikesh in the 1960s to study yoga, and since then the city has styled itself as the “yoga capital of the world.