A Gateway To God
Haridwar is reputed as the gateway to the four pilgrimages in the Uttranchal region. Visit this sacred place that will purify your body, mind and the soul. Spend some time on the ghats that acquire a unique charm in the evening with countless diyas floating in the waters of Ganges. Down the ages Haridwar has also become a major learning center for science, arts and culture.
The holy city of Haridwar is located in the Himalayan Indian state of Uttaranchal at a distance of 214 km from Delhi. Haridwar extends from latitude 29° 58' in the north to longitude 78°13' in the east. The place is well connected to other cities of north India by road and train.
Haridwar is situated at a height of almost 300 meters above sea level and the temperature usually hovers around 40°C during summers. Winters see the mercury dipping to as low as 6°C. The best season to visit Haridwar is between October to March during winter.
Haridwar or the Gateway to the Gods is one of the seven holiest places according to Hindu mythology, as the Gods are believed to have left their footprints in Haridwar. Due to its geographical location too, Haridwar stands as the gateway to the other three important pilgrimages of Uttrakhand namely, Rishikesh, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Referred to as Mayapuri, Gangadwar, and Mokshadwar in the ancient scriptures and epics, Haridwar has always remained a major pilgrimage for the Hindus.
SITES TO VISIT
Har-Ki-Pauri, the sacred ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya in the memory of his brother Bhartrihari. The golden reflection of floral diyas in the river Ganges is the most enchanting sight in the twilight during the Ganga's aarti ceremony at the ghat.
The temple of Chandi Devi atop the Neel Parvat on the other bank of river Ganges was constructed in AD 1929 by Suchat Singh, the then King of Kashmir. The temple is a 3-km trek from Chandi Ghat and it is believed that the Adi Shankaracharya established the main statue in eighth century AD. The Chandi Devi Temple is now also accessible by a ropeway, which starts near the Gauri Shankar Temple.
The temple atop the Bilwa Parvat is dedicated to Goddess Mansa Devi. One can have a panoramic view of Haridwar, the Ganges, and the countryside from this place.
The Vaishno Devi temple here is newly constructed and a true replica of the original Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu & Kashmir.
The Gurukul Kangadi University is a center of learning where education is imparted in the traditional Indian way. Within the precincts of the University is the Veda Mandir, which houses many archaeological exhibits. It is situated on the Haridwar-Jwalapur bypass road.
Other important places to visit are the Bharat Mata Temple, Maya Devi Temple, Bhimgoda, and Shanti Kunj.
Rishikesh, around 28 km off Haridwar, is at the base of the Himalayas and it is where the Ganges comes down to the plains from the hills. A breathtaking experience of natural beauty and undiscovered wildlife awaits here. Not to mention the peace and tranquility of a landscape associated with sages and meditation.
The Daksh Mahadev Temple is an ancient shrine situated to the south of Kankhal town. This temple was constructed by Queen Dhankaur in AD 1810. Kankhal has several other temples and ashrams too.
The Sapt Rishi Ashram is situated along the Haridwar-Rishikesh road. The Ganges flows in seven streams in front of this Ashram, hence this place is also called Sapt Sarovar.
The Kanva Rishi Ashram is situated around 42 km from Haridwar. The ashram is on the banks of the Malini River along the forest road to Kotdwar.
The Chila Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the Rajaji National Park, covers an area of around 240 sq. km. It has 23 species of mammals and 315 fauna species. Lucky tourists can catch glimpses of elephants, tigers, leopards, jungle cats, Himalayan yellow throated martens, sambers, chitals, barking dears, wild boars, langurs, ghurals, sloth bears, king cobras, woodpeckers, etc. Fishing in the river there is allowed with permits only.
The Triveni ghat is an interesting place to be at dawn, when people make offerings of milk to the river and feed the fish. After sunset, priests set floating lamps on the water during the Aarti ceremony.
The temple of Neelkanth Mahadev, a place associated with Lord Shiva, is situated at a height of 1700 meters. It is a 4-hour walk from Rishikesh and a not-to-be-missed destination away from the madding crowd.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
Haridwar, one of the oldest and holiest pilgrim centers of India, is also the place that plays host to around eight to ten million devotees during the Kumbh melas. The history of the Kumbh Mela dates back to the creation of the Universe and as a show of their faith, Hindus from all over the country assemble to take a holy dip in the Ganges.
The main shopping centers of Haridwar are Moti Bazaar, Upper Road, and Jwalapur. One can shop for rudraksh, Gangajal (vessels containing Ganges water), kumkum (vermilion), Ayurvedic medicines and precious stones in and around Haridwar.
HOW TO REACH
By Air The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant in Dehradun, but it is preferable to use the roads or rail to Delhi and then take flights to the destination of ones choice.
By Rail This major pilgrimage center is well connected by trains to almost all the major cities in India. In fact, trains are the major source of the tourist inflow to Haridwar.
By Road The National Highway no.45 crosses the city, so it is connected to other cities of the state as well as those in the other states too. There are regular buses available from Delhi to Haridwar. The state transport corporation has ordinary as well as deluxe and semi-deluxe buses on this route for long distance travel. There are private buses that take one to nearby places and also some of these private deluxe buses run on the long distance routes.