About Haridwar

Haridwar, literally means 'The gateway to the Gods'. It's the place where the river Ganga descends to the plain. A Gateway to the four pilgrimage of Uttarakhand, Haridwar is variously mentioned as Mayapuri, Gangadwar, Mokhsadwar in the ancient Hindu scriptures and epics. A major Shaktipeeth from time immemorial, the place is believed to have both sanctified by the powerful trinity of Hindu mythology - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. This is why the place has been a ever-refreshing mystic venue for the purification of the mind, body and soul. The Kumbha Mela, happening once every 12 years and the Ardha Kumbha Mela (Coming once every six years) are big draws.

Haridwar is very much associated with the legends in Hindu philosophy. In order to purge the earth of its sins, it is said the a king named Bhagirath brought river Ganga from heaven to earth. Haridwar is also very popular among both foreign and indigenous tourists because of the different types of alternative treatment facility that it provides. Interestingly enough more and more people are turning towards Ayurveda and Yoga. In Haridwar, you will get some excellent Ayurveda and Yoga institute.

The city of Haridwar is only 10 km away from Rajaji National Park. If you are a wildlife lover or a die-hard adventure maniac, make sure that you visit this wonderful place. Situated in the state of uttarakhand, the city is easily accessible by air, road and rail. Haridwar is only 214 km from Delhi and 386 km from Agra. If you wish to journey by car, it will not take more than just a few hours to reach here. Haridwar also has a railway station and is well connected by rail. The nearest airport is just 35 km away at Dehradun. If you are planning to spend a vacation away from the din and bustle of daily life, this is the place where you should be.

Haridwar located in the foothills of the Himalayas, represents the point where the Ganga reaches the plains. Haridwar is an ancient pilgrimage site, held in reverence for centuries. The Chinese pilgrim Hyuen Tsang who visited India in the first millennium CE, describes Haridwar as Mayura, on the eastern banks of the Ganges. Several temples and ashrams dot this town and a visit to Haridwar is like stepping into a totally different world.

Legend has it that Bhagiratha, brought the Ganges into the earth, and into this point where his ancestors were burnt to ashes by the curse of the sage Kapila. Kapilastaan, a spot in Haridwar is pointed to as Kapila's hermitage. Haridwar was once known as Gangadwara. Haridwar (and Rishikesh) represents the gateway to the Himalayan pilgrimage shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath. The pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrines begins only when the sun reaches the zodiac sign of Aries. Haridwar is also the site of celebration of the Kumbha Mela, once in twelve years, when Jupiter transits to the zodiac sign of Aquarius.

The five sacred bathing spots in Haridwar are Gangadwara, Kankhal, Nila Parvata, Bilwa Theertha and Kusavarta. The main ghat at Haridwar is known as Hari-ki-Pairi (known for a footprint of Vishnu on a stone in a wall). Nearby is the Gangadwara temple, the most important of the several temples that dot this town. The Ganga Aarti which is celebrated at 7 pm each night, is a spectacular sight, when the aarti ceremony is performed at all temples in Haridwar at the same instant (see image above). Hundreds throng to the ghats at Hari-ki-Pairi to participate in this festival. Offerings of lamps and flowers are made to the river immediately following this ceremony and it is a moving sight to watch hundreds of miniature lamps float along the river.

Near Haridwar are the towns of Mayapuri and Kankhal. Kankhal houses the Daksheswara temple, said to be the site of Daksha's yagna, which was destroyed by Shiva.

Har Ki Pauri
One of the most famous and most visited sites of Haridwar, Har ki Pauri is considered as one of its five main holy sites. It is believed to be the sacred place where Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, two great Hindu Gods, appeared in the Vedic era. This place is considered equivalent to the Dashashwamedh Ghat in Banaras, in religious terms. It is also said that Brahma, the Hindu God of Creation, performed a yagna at the Har ki Pauri. The ghat is also said to have the holy footprints of Lord Vishnu.

Har ki pauri is believed to be the exit point of the river Ganges from the mountains and its entry into the plains. A dip in the holy water of the ghat is said to relieve a person of all his sins. The place is surrounded by some ancient and some newly build temples. Throughout the year, religious rituals like 'upanayan' or the initiation ritual, 'mundan' or the head tonsuring ritual, 'asthi visarjan' or immersion of the ashes of the dead and 'shraddha' or prayers appeasing one's ancestors take place here.

Har ki pauri is always crowded with devotees and priests, offering prayers to the Sun God and the holy Ganges. This place is the perfect destination for people deeply in love with religion, philosophy and spiritualism. The auspicious fair of Hindus, the Kumbh mela, is held at Har ki Pauri, after every 3 years. This sacred ghat was built on the bank of Ganges, by King Vikramaditya, in the memory of his brother Bhartrihari. Har ki pauri is famous for Ganga Aarti, a holy ritual of offering prayers to the Ganges.

Evening Ganga Arti
The time of Aarti sees a bustle of activity on the ghats. Many babas are seen sitting in corners, hoping to get some donations from the devotees. Men in blue uniform move around with a receipt book, collecting donations that will be used for conducting the Aarti. People keep walking in all direction trying to find a good place to sit or stand. Hawkers sell wick lamps or diyas to float in the Ganges.

To see the most breathtaking sight in Haridawar, come to the Harki pauri ghat in the evening, when the daily ritual of 'Maha Aarti' takes place. When the sun goes down, the most awaited activity of the evening Aart takes places on the ghat. Ganges is decorated as a newly wedded bride and glows with fluorescence of the thousands and millions of diyas and marigold petals. The Ganga Aarti in Hardwar’s Har-ki-Pauri is one of the famous rituals in India. It starts at around 6.30pm after sunset, with large crowds gathered around both the banks of a canal that carries the waters of Ganges. Loud speakers blare songs in praise of Ganga Maiya and Shiva.

The time of Aarti sees a bustle of activity on the ghats. Many babas are seen sitting in corners, hoping to get some donations from the devotees. Men in blue uniform move around with a receipt book, collecting donations that will be used for conducting the Aarti. People keep walking in all direction trying to find a good place to sit or stand. Hawkers sell wick lamps or diyas to float in the Ganges.

Mansa Devi
This ancient temple dedicated to Mansa Devi is of great importance to the followers of Hinduism. It is situated on the top of Bilwa Parbat and can be reached by foot or by a trolley through the ropeway. Mansa Devi is said to have emerged from the mind of Saint Kashyap and is regarded as the wife of Nag King Vasuki. The Holy Idol of the goddess has three mouths and five arms while the other statue has eight arms. As one of the famous Siddha Peetha temples, Mansa Devi is supposed to grant all the wishes of a sincere devotee. (In fact, Mansa is derived from the word 'Mansha' which means 'wish'. There is a holy tree in the vicinity of the temple. Devotees who want their wishes to be fulfilled by the Goddess tie threads to the branches of this tree. Once their wishes are fulfilled people come back again to the temple to untie the thread from the tree. This is one of the most popular and most visited temples of Haridwar.

One of the most visited temples in Haridwar, Mansa Devi Mandir occupies a place on top of the Shivalik hills. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mansa Devi, believed to fulfill the wishes of those who visit here. It is a tradition with the devotees to tie sacred threads around the tree that stands within the premises of the Mansa Devi temple. From the temple, one can have heart stirring views of the Haridwar town. Along with Chandi Devi temple and the Maya Devi temple, it completes the Siddhapeeth Triangle.


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