Site Name: Har Ki Pauri
Site Type: River ghat; a sacred place for Hindus
Location: Haridwar, Uttarakhand state, India
Highlights: The most important site in Haridwar
Nearest Railway Station: Haridwar
Nearest Airport: Dehradun - 35 kms from Haridwar
How to reach: Well connected by road
Hotel: A lot of options including low cost and free accommodation such as ashrams
Restaurants: Varieties of options - but only vegetarian
Haridwar is a relgious city located on the banks of the beautiful Ganges river in Uttarakhand state of India. The city is an ancient city and has so many sacred places and temples for Hindus. It is considered as one of the seven most sacred sites of Hindus. Haridwar is dotted with a lot of religiously important sites such as temples and ghats. Let us explore the most important site in Haridwar, Har Ki Pauri, in this article.
Haridwar is located on the foot hills of Shivaliks mountain range. The Ganges river which leaves the mountains and enters the plains in this town does not lose its rapids. There are many ghats built across the entire town. Among all those ghats, the Har Ki Pauri ghat is the most popular one. This site is also the most popular site in all categories in entire Haridwar and the nearby town, Rishikesh.
Thousands of people take bath in this ghat, which is also called as Brahma Kund. The aarti ceremony is performed everyday in the evening. Thousands of lamps and marigold flowers float on the water of the river, which is a spectacular sight. At the same time, aarti is performed in all the small temples located on this Ghat, which should not be missed out. Thousands of people gather on the ghat to get the glimpse of this great event everyday. It is one of the most important not-to-be missed things for a traveller in entire India.
Har Ki Pauri is one of the five sacred bathing spots of Haridwar. The other four places are Kankhal, Nila Parvata, Bilwa Teertha and Kusavarta. It is believed that the footprint of Lord Shiva is found on a stone in a wall and hence this place is called as Har Ki Pauri (the word Pauri means 'foot steps'). Few people claim that it was the footsteps of Hari (Vishnu) and not that of Shiva.
The great internationally popular Kumbha Mela festival happens in Har Ki Pauri once in twelve years.
Being the most popular place has its own disadvantages too. The ghat is dotted with a lot of tiny temples most of them are dedicated to the river Ganga called as Ganga Ma. The idol of Ganga is mostly found along with her mount Makara, the mythological sea creature. It should be noted that most of these modern days temples are built not out of devotion but mainly to collect money from the devotees and visitors. The place is filled full of Pandas, Pujaris and beggars who extract money from the visitors. The devotees or travellers need to enjoy the experience of this place along with all these nonsense. It is unfortunate.
As per the legend, the King Bhagiratha of Ayodhya brought the heavenly river Ganga into the earth to calm the souls of his ancestors who were burnt by the curse of the sage Kapila. The spot where the sage's hermitage is found is called as Kapilastaan in Haridwar. Hence, the city is also called as Gangadwara.
As per another legend, the nectar (amruddha) that came out from the ocean churning was sprinkled at 12 places in the entire universe. Out of those 12 places, only four places were on the earth. Har-Ki-Pauri ghat in Haridwar is one of those four places.
The great legendary King Vikramaditya (of 1st centurcy BC?) is said to have built this ghat in the memory of his brother Bharthari who had come her to meditate. It should be noted that the Vikrama Shaka (epoch) is attributed to this king.