The holy land of Haridwar is situated to the right of Ganga river bank, and it is the place from where Ganga spreads over the northern plains of India. It is a city that is associated with Lord Vishnu as well as Lord Shiva. It is also one among the seven most sacred cities in India. People from different corners of India as well as the world, come to Haridwar to bathe in the holy water of Ganga and wash all their sins. It is one among the four locations where Kumb Mela is held. The city is considered to be a sacred place where the devotees get salvation from all their pain and sufferings.
It is said that while leaving their footprints on the holy land of Haridwar, the gods also left the spiritual ethos of Hinduism in Haridwar, which all the devotees follow today. This sacred city stands as the doorway to the four major pilgrimage sites of Uttrakhand. The other names given to this magnificent city are Gangadwar, Mayapuri, and Mokshadwar since it has remained the major centre for all the devotees. This is the reason that is also referred to as the land of “doorway to the gods.”
The place is also famous for availability of herbal medicines as well as the traditional way of studying at Gurukul Kangri. The most sacred river of India, Ganga flows from Haridwar and is said to be sanctified by the trinity of Hindu gods – Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva(Mahesh).
Haridwar is considered as the city where people can purify their mind, body and soul by taking a bath in the holy water of Ganga that is said to be so scared that it can wash away all the sins of the devotee. Apart from these mind, body and soul purifying activities in the city, it is also famous for learning science, arts as well as culture. Ayurvedic and herbal medicines is another area for which the Haridwar is famous all around India and even some parts of the world.
The major events taking place here are the Kumbh Mela and the Ardh Kumbh Mela that are held every 12 and six years respectively. While the place is filled with mystic mythology and aura that never fails to cast a spell on its visitors. It is also one among the oldest cities that is mentioned in the Hindu scriptures. The water of the holy river Ganga, is crystal clear and refreshing. Sitting on the ghats, bathing and attending the morning and evening Aarti is just mystical that directly connects the devotees to the lord.
The city is the location for many festivals. There is Kumbh-ka-mela that has a gathering of around 70 million devotees coming from various corners of the world. It is the largest humanity festival. Then there is Ardh kumbh Mela this is held every six months that also accumulates a large mass of people. Apart from this there are many other festivals that are celebrated on a very large scale in Haridwar. These festivals are:
And last but not the least is the kartik Purnima that is held 15 days after Diwali, when the moon is full for the first time after Diwali. This is so because according to the Hindu religion, Diwali is considered to be the festival that welcomes new year.
All the festivals are fascinating and colourful in their own way and tourists from various corners of the world come in large quantities to see this part of real India. The bookings during these periods are very difficult hence it is always suggested that the bookings are made at least 1-2 months prior to the festive season.
TRAVELLING TO HARIDWAR
From the capital city of India: Delhi, Haridwar is just 200 kms away. There is a well connected road and rail route from almost all parts of India, to Haridwar. During the Sawan (July) month, travelling by road is difficult since most of the routes are blocked due to heavy crowd. It is suggested that during the period, trains are used as the mode of conveyance. For travelling to Haridwar via bus, train, taxi or personal car, the best route is: reach Delhi and then take any mode of conveyance that is preferred by the traveller.
If wanting to travel by air, the nearest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun, where Air Deccan flies twice from Delhi to Haridwar.
A number of trains cross Haridwar’s Junction Railway Station every day. Choose any and reach direct onto the city.
Buses are preferred by many people since these are cheap and fast medium of reaching Haridwar from destinations like Delhi, Dehradun, Rishikesh, etc. But these are also very chaotic and over full. Sometimes people have to travel while standing all through the way. The number of A/C buses is in shortage therefore prior reservation is suggested so as to avoid these painful circumstances.
SIGHT SEEING IN HARIDWAR:
The whole city can be toured very easily via local shared autos as well as cycle rickshaws. On the way you would see many local shops selling the holy water of Ganga, local food joints known as Dhabas, little tea stalls and many men and women dressed in saffron colures. These are the general sites that everyone would encounter. Animals like dogs, cows and monkeys would be seen in plenty. Be sure that you are safely carrying your stuff like specs, bags, purses, etc as these monkeys have a unexplainable love for specs and bags that they snatch from almost every person who doesn’t take well care of their belongings.
Hari-ki-Pairi or Har-ki-Paudi: this is the main area where devotees come to take a dip in the holy water of Ganga and ask for the blessings of the Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The legend says that har-ki-paudi is the place where the drop of nectar fell while the oceans were churned and the world was created. Every morning and evening, numerous people gather and worship the holy water by floating Diyas and attending the Aarti. The place where the people bathe and aarti takes place is commonly known as Ghats. The famous Ghats of Haridwar are Subhash Ghat, Ram Ghat, Hari-ki-Pauri, Vishnu Ghat etc.
Maya Devi Mandi, is located on the upper area of Haridwar. The temple is famous for its 51 shakti peeths and is the reason that Haridwar is also known as Mayapur.
Mansa Devi temple is in the centre of the town. The temple is accessible via cable cars or via road. The view is mystical and the temple is typical.
Bharat Mata Mandir, as the name suggests is dedicated to Mother India and is half temple and the other half is nation building exercise that hss 7 floors with deities, secular heroes and saints placed all over.
Other famous sites are Chandi Devi Mandir, Daksh mandir, Bilkeshwar Mahadev Mandir , and Ma Anandamayee Ashram
The latest additionto the various places to see in the holy land is the Divya Yog Mandir Trust that is founded by Baba Ramdev and lies on the outskirts of the city.
Being a holy land, Haridwar is a pure vegetarian land. The tourist gets numerous options in the vegetarian menu but the most common are Puri aloo, south Indian cuisine and the proper India thali having roti, daal, sabji, sala, curd, pickle, and papad.
The most popular eating joints are:
Shopping is not for what people go to Haridwar. However, the popular shopping centres like Upper Road, Moti Bazaar, Kankhal and Jwalapur, has some amazing emporiums of handicrafts ad handloom. Imitation jewellery is also very easily available. Since the river brings along many beautiful stones with itself, You can find neat and beautifully carved stone Idols, toys made from stone, etc. Mala such as rudraksha mala, Chandan Mala, Sphatic mala, and many more article made from sandalwood can also be bought at affordable prices.
NEARBY PLACES TO VISIT:
The two most famous tourist sports nearby Haridwar are Rishikesh that is 26 kilometres upriver and the other is Rajai National Park that is also the link between Haridwar and Rishikesh. Both can be covered in a day and are a splendid experience. One must surely vist these places and if possible and is one has enough time like a day or 2 more, go higher to Dehradun, Mussaoorie that have a complete different weather and atmosphere.
OTHER INFORMATION ABOUT HARIDWAR:
Area: 12300 sq. Km.
Altitude: 295 metres above the sea level
Local transport: taxis, rickshaws, Tonga, buses, tempos, cycle, auto rickshaws.