The descent of river Ganga from the mountains into the plains touches Haridwar before moving down other towns. Haridwar opens the doors to Char Dham or the four religious centers Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri and promises a very pious experience for travelers. One of the oldest beliefs states that anyone taking a dip in the holy river of Ganga here can achieve salvation.
Placed at a height of 249.7 meters above sea level and spread across an area of 2360 sq km, this district witnesses hot summers and cold winters. Connectivity is not a problem with road and railway networks active.
Being of religious significance, it is needless to say that this city hosts religious festivals throughout the year. Some of the well known festivals (mela) are Kumbh mela, Kavad mela, Somvati Amavasya mela and Ganga Dussehra. Of utmost importance is the Kumbh mela, as it occurs once in 12 years when planet Jupiter (Brahaspati) gets closer to planet Aquarius (Kumbh).
Haridwar is a treasury of various temples and religious places of interest apart from shopping hubs and wildlife sanctuaries. Anyone visiting Haridwar must keep time aside to visit all the temples situated in the city and experience the pious and holy atmosphere.
The history of Haridwar has been beautifully spun with the threads of mythological beliefs and historical data. While the holy city finds its reference in epic books like Mahabharata, various scriptures have also mentioned the city as Kapilsthan, Mayapuri and Gangadwar. The city has been linked to various mythological heroes like King Bhagirath, who is said to have brought river Ganga from heaven.
Documented history of Haridwar associated the city with the Mauryan Empire who ruled here from 322 to 185 B.C. Huan Tsang was perhaps the first person to have mentioned Haridwar during his visit in 629 A.D. The city was also raided by the Turkis invader Timur Lang in 1399.
The most revered Sikh guru, Guru Nanak is also said to have bathed at the popular Kushwan Ghat, which today is commemorated by a Gurudwara. Mughal kings too have ruled this holy land. According to the Ain-E-Akbari, a book written by Abul Fazal in the 16th century, Haridwar then was called as Maya (one among the seven most sacred places of Hindus). King Akbar is known to have drunk the water of Ganges in Haridwar.
During, the reign of King Jehangir, Haridwar was known as ‘Haridwara’ the capital of Shiva.
The East Indis Company used the ‘Upper Ganges Canal’ at Haridwar extensively, causing deterioration to the Ganges water flow. In the year 1901, Haridwar was declared as a part of the Roorkee Tehsil of United Province which came to be known as Uttar Pradesh after India’s independence in 1947.
Tour to Haridwar 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 aarti ceremony at the ghat.
The temple of Chandi Devi a top 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 a top 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.
PLACES AROUND HARIDWAR
Tour to Haridwar 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 & FESTIVALS
Kumbh Mela :- India has been attracting the whole world with her rich cultural heritages and spirituality. The renowned Kumbh Mela is a unique blend of all these. Haridwar Kumbh has its importance as the last Kumbh of this century. The Kumbh mela is held in every 12 years to commorate this spritual day .Millions of men, women, children, sagas, Rishi, Munies, baba's and tourists gather here to take a dip in the holy water of holy rivers.
Ardh Kumbh :- The Ardh Kumbh mela (fair) is held in every 6 years which is followed by the Kumbh Mela after 6 years. It is believed that a dip in the holy river Ganga during the Ardh Kumbh gives one Moksha or Nirvana. Ardha Kumbh also attracts a large number of people to take the holy dip during these holy days.
WHERE TO STAY
There are many places to stay in Haridwar, but it is hard to find any luxurious accommodation. Most of the hotels and resorts are in the middle range or budget categories. Many of the ashrams and dharmshalas also provide simple and cheap accommodation. The numerous resorts dotting the banks of the Ganges are also good options.
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 - Haridwar 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. We would provide you all India tourist permit vehicles for the local transportations and also for the intercity drives too.