Site Name: Haridwar
Site Type: Hindu religious site
Location: Haridwar, Uttarakhand state, India
Highlights: One of the seven sacred sites of Hindus
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. The other six sacred sites are Ayodhya, Mathura, Kasi, Kanchipuram, Puri and Dvaravati.
Haridwar is located on the foot hills of Shivaliks mountain range. The Ganges river leaves the mountains and enters the plains in Haridwar. It is considered as the gateway to the four major pilgrim sites of Hindus namely Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Rishikesh, the nearest site of Haridwar, is also equally important for Hindus.
Although the river Ganges does not lose its rapids completely, it is comparatively calm in Haridwar. Unlike other cities or towns, the Ganges in this city is clean. Thousands of people take bath in the river in Haridwar as it is believed that taking bath here purifies the soul. Hence, there are numerous river ghats built in this city.
Haridwar is visited not only by the devotees. Even the natural lovers visit this beautiful city. There are thousands of people who love to be here in the evening to watch the spectacular Aarti to the river Ganga. It is a breathtaking view with thousands of lamps and marigold flowers floating in the waters of the river Ganga. Apart from its religious importance, the city is also popular as Ayurvedic medicine center and major learning center.
Haridwar is one of the few sites in India where the great Kumbha Mela festival is celebrated once in twelve years.
The city is also called as 'Har Dwar' by the devotees of Lord Shiva. (Please note 'Hari' means Vishnu and 'Har' means Shiva).
Haridwar, which has a temple for Maya Devi, is also called as Mayapuri.
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.
Places of interest:
- Har-Ki-Pauri aka Brahmakund - the most popular place of Haridwar; the evening aarthi ceremony pulls thousands of people every evening to this place; the most sacred river ghat in Haridwar; a lot of small temples are built on its banks
- Chandi Devi Temple - One of the most important temples of Haridwar
- Mansa Devi Temple - One of the most important temples of Haridwar
- Anjana Devi Temple - A rare temple dedicated to the mother of Lord Hanuman
- Maya Devi Temple - The most important Shakti Peetha temple of Haridwar
- Sapta Rishi Ashram - A picturesque place where the river is split into seven currents
- Lal Devi Temple
- Bharat Mata Temple - A multi-storey temple dedicated to Mother India
- Pawan Dham - A modern day temple made full of glass materials with Hanuman as the main deity
- Kankhal - An important religious site near Haridwar
- Ramanand Ashram
- Ananda Mayee Ashram
Apart from the temples, the city is otherwise also charming for early morning walk, late night walk or watching aarti on the ghats in the evening. Also, the river bath in Ganga is very enjoyable. For those who love to do shopping, there are options in the city. Religious items and ornaments are available in the markets of Haridwar. Also, some delicious roadside North Indian restaurants and authentic restaurants such as Chhottiwalas make the place more interesting.