Haridwar Â is an ancient city and municipality in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, India. The River Ganges, after flowing for 253 kilometres (157 mi) from its source at Gaumukh at the edge of the Gangotri Glacier, enters the Indo-Gangetic Plains of North India for the first time at Haridwar,which gave the city its ancient name, GangadwÃ¡ra.
Haridwar is regarded as one of the seven holiest places to Hindus. According to the Samudra manthan, Haridwar along with Ujjain, Nashik and Prayag (Allahabad) is one of four sites where drops of Amrit, the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilled over from the pitcher while being carried by the celestial bird Garuda. This is manifested in the Kumbha Mela being celebrated every 3 years in one of the 4 places, and thus every 12 years in Haridwar. Amidst the Kumbha Mela, millions of pilgrims, devotees, and tourists congregate in Haridwar to perform ritualistic bathing on the banks of the river Ganges to wash away their sins to attain Moksha. Brahma Kund, the spot where the Amrit fell, is located at Har Ki Pauri (literally, “footsteps of the Lord”) and is considered to be the most sacred ghat of Haridwar.
HOW TO REACH
Haridwar railway station is a major station well connected to all major cities in India. Tourists can take trains from Delhi (Dehradun Shatabdi), Kolkata (Doon Exp), Mumbai (Dehradun Exp) and Chennai (Ddn Mas Exp), Bhopal (Hw Ltt Ac Sf) along with various other cities in the country.
Nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, which is a domestic airport located at about just 20 km away from city center. Taxi cabs are available from airport to Haridwar city, which cost about Rs 400. The airport operates daily flights to Delhi. Nearest International airport is Delhi, which is about 200 km away. Delhi airport is well connected to most of the domestic airports and foreign airports.
Haridwar is well connected by tourist bus services and state owned bus services. All cities in and around Haridwar are connected by state buses. Many deluxe buses are available at a regular interval from Delhi to Haridwar with a fare less than Rs 500 per head. Buses are also available from Jaipur (Rs 300), Jodhpur (Rs 500), Dehradun (Rs 250), Shimla (Rs 1,000) and many other cities located close to it.
WHAT TO SEE
Bharat Mata Mandir:-
Bharat Mata Mandir, which is also known as Mother India Temple, is one of the most visited temples located in Haridwar. The temple is dedicated to Bharat Mata by her devoted patriotic nationals. This religious shrine was founded by Swami Satyamitranand Giri. In 1983, this temple was inaugurated by Late Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi.
Located at Sapt Sarovar, the temple is visited by large number of devotees every year. With a height of 180 ft, the temple stands tall with eight stories. Different legends, mythologies and deities are represented by each floor of this shrine. In addition, the Bharat Mata Mandir is also dedicated to all the patriotic freedom fighters, who contributed to the freedom of the country.
Har Ki Pauri:-
Har Ki Pauri, one of the most famous places in Haridwar, is believed to be the exit point of River Ganges from the mountains and entry into the plains. In addition, this sightseeing is also among one of the five main holy sites of Haridwar. According to another legend, it is believed that at this place, two great Hindu Gods; Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu appeared during the Vedic era. Since then the place is considered to be sacred.
In addition, it is also said that Lord Brahma, who is the Hindu God of Creation, performed a yagna at this place. Moreover, according to the chronicles of history, an imprint of holy foot of Lord Vishnu is present on one of the stones of this ghat, which is indicative of the name.
Vaishno Devi Temple:-
Vaishno Devi Temple, not known by many, is a replica of the temple, which is located in Jammu. This temple has been recently constructed and hence, does not fall into the league of ancient temples.
Similar to Vaishno Devi Temple located in Jammu, the path which leads to worship the Goddess is full of tunnels and caves. In addition, it is believed that the deity blesses only those worshippers who truly intend to seek the blessings of goddess.
Sapt Rishi Ashram:-
Sapt Rishi Ashram, located at a distance of approximately 5 km from Har ki Pauri, is one of the most famous ashrams of Haridwar. Hindu Mythology states that the ashram is located, where the seven great sages or Sapt-Rishis, Kashyap, Vashisht, Atri, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gautam used to meditate.
It is also said that the River Ganges at this place split herself into seven streams, so that the seven sages mediating here would not be disturbed by her flow. Owing to this reason, this place is also known as the Sapt Sarovar or Sapt Rishi Kund. All the seven streams reunite further ahead and flow as Neel Dhara, which forms a beautiful channel while entering Haridwar.
Chandi Devi Temple:-
Chandi Devi Temple, located on the top of Neel Parvat, is one of the most famous temples of India. This place is of great religious importance and is also considered as one of the Shakti peethas of North India. This temple is also known as Siddh peetha, as it is believed to have powers to fulfil the wishes of devotees.
According to legend, it is believed that Goddess Chandika Devi rested for a short while on Neel Parvat. This happened after she killed demon kings, Shumbh and Nishumbha. This temple was constructed to welcome her back.
The amazing Udan Khatola is a ropeway that is used to reach the temples on the hill. It is faster and easier way to visit the temples than by climbing the rugged terrain. It starts in the area close to Chandi Devi mandir and one can enjoy magnificent views of the low lying regions.
However shops in Haridwar have some interesting things to offer to the tourist. The main shopping centers are Moti bazaar, Upper Road, Jwalapur and Kankhal. You can also check out the Government Handloom and Handicrafts Emporiums and the Gandhi Ashram. Here you will find a range of handicraft decorative pieces. If you are interested in jewellery, then you can choose from a variety of imitation ones which make good fashion accessory.
The food habits of Haridwar people comprises of vegetarian flavor that speaks of their belief in the piousness and purity of life. The temples, Ghats, ashrams and other sacred places of Haridwar have collectively made it a site of reverence. Most of the tourists coming to Haridwar are pilgrims who seek the blessing of the deities of the various shrines of the place. More often than not these devotees adhere to strict vegetarian dishes to keep their religious sanctity intact. This is one of the prime reasons why most of the eateries of Haridwar come with vegetarian menu.