There is no alchohol for sale in Rishikesh, and the city is strictly vegetarian.
The lack of alchohol has obviously not been a problem- the supply of other forms of relaxing substances makes up for that. Chillums are for sale in every side stall.
There is a place nearby, 11kms south on the Haridwar Road, that sells meat and alchohol if the need for these is felt by any traveller
An important part of living in Rishikesh is the daily dip in the holy river. It is usually done either at dawn or late afternoon and evening. I was told that this old man in the picture performed this daily ritual every single day no matter what the temperature of the water is. And the water can get very cold. This devotion is what keeps this country alive. It is fascinating to think that he is there everyday doing what he believes in and his faith makes all discomforts tolerable.
Be sure to remove your shoes before entering any temple. Shoes are considered dirty as we walk with them everywhere. Also many temples do not allow leather in any form (belts, wallets, watch straps, shoes, bags, etc.). So check before entering.
Bathing in the Ganga is one of the main reasons for Rishikesh's existence, though the water is Himalayan cold, it is clean and not as lethal to tourists as the river becomes in Varanasi. Aarti, the floating lantern ceremony is performed every evening at the main ghat, in downtown Rishikesh. Lakshman Jhula is not the place to witness this as the Ganga is just entering the town at this spot. The downtown Triveni Ghat has much more of a Holy Day atmosphere and attracts far more Hindu pilgrims than tourists, which does contribute to the religious carnival atmosphere. The beautiful larger than life painted statues of Shiva, Lakshman and other Hindu gods add to the colourful scene, particularly set against the ice white of the Ganga. Lakshman Jhula does have a lot of its own colour, mostly the red of the many-tiered temples and the acolytes who dress as Hindu gods. Swarg Ashram has the largest collection of Sadhus and Gurus, sporting some flamboyant costumes and hairdos, not just the traditional orange robes. It's quite a common if strange, sight to see the younger holy men riding motorcycles, they cut quite a dash and turn many a lady tourist's head.
After seeing all three, here's what I think of the basic difference in the evening Ganga prayers.
1. Haridwar: Big, bass boosted, tight, kind of a spectacle for the eyes with all the human energy and little temples bustling together.
2. Rishikesh, Triveni Ghat: More quiet, subtle, payers directly next to the river almost touching the water; no steps in between like in Haridwar. Wide, stony, empty beach with twinkling lights in the back... pretty peaceful (if the prayers are not being done over loudspeakers).
3. Swarg Ashram, Ram Jhula: 3km from Rishikesh, prayers here are most different. Many people gather here too but its not tight like Haridwar. More of a meditative discussion-prayer-chant. Whole thing lasts the longest here. Lots of young disciples sing along with much harmony and unison.
They all start at about 6.30 - 7.00 pm. Being part of any is a feast. See whatever works works for you.