Haridwar, the place of pilgrimage, situated on the right side of the bank of the holy Ganga, is associated with both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Among the seven sacred cities of India, it is also one of the four venues for the Kumbh Mela, held in its magnitude every twelve years.
It is said that when the Gods left their footprints on the land of Haridwar, metaphorically they also left an indelible mark on the spiritual ethos of every Hindu. Attracting millions of devotees each year, this holy place has been rightly named Haridwar, meaning: 'the gateway to the Gods'.
The belief that the mind and soul can be cleansed by visiting Haridwar draws people in huge number to participate in the Kumbh Mela which happens once every 12 years and the Ardh Kumbh Mela, which comes once every six years.
Being one of the oldest cities, Haridwar finds its mention in the ancient Hindu scriptures. Haridwar is one of the first towns where Ganga emerges from the mountains to touch the plains. And that's why the water is crystal clear and cool. In the evening the ghats look breathtakingly beautiful, as thousands of diyas and marigold flowers float and illuminate the Holy waters. Places of visit include:
The temple of Chandi Devi a the Neel Parvat on the other bank of river Ganga was constructed in 1929 AD by the King of Kashmir - Suchat Singh. Legend has it that Chanda-Munda the army chief of the local demon king, Shumbha-Nishumbha, was killed by Goddess Chandi here after which the place got the name Chandi Devi. It is believed that the main statue was established by the Adi Sankaracharya in 8th Century AD.
Bharat Mata Temple
An important temples of Haridwar, it is a huge construction with has eight floors which has images of cities, heroes and great men.
It is the famous ashram of Gayatri. Followers and pilgrims from far and wide converge here for yoga and natural cures.
This sacred Ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya in memory of his brother Bhartrihari who came to Haridwar to meditate by the banks of the holy Ganga. This sacred bathing ghat is also known as Brahmakund. It is the most important ghat on the river Ganga, where a holy dip is a must for every devotee.
Legend has it that while the Pandavas were here, Bhim with one blow of his horse's hoof drew water from the rocks at this spot.
Mansa Devi Temple
The temple of Bilwa Parvat is dedicated to the Goddess Mansa Devi. The powerful imagery of the goddess is depicted with her having three mouths and five arms.
Vaishno Devi Temple
The newly constructed temple dedicated to the Goddess Vaishno Devi is on the lines of the famous temple by the same name in Jammu.
Gurukul Kangri University
Within the precincts of this University is the Ved Mandir which houses many archaeological exhibits. It is situated on the Haridwar-Jwalapur bypass road.
Daksh Mahadev Temple
The ancient temple of Daksh Mahadev is situated in the south of Kankhal town and was constructed by Queen Dhankaur in 1810 AD.
Chila Wildlife Sanctuary
A popular destination and adventure lovers, the Chila Wildlife Sanctuary, is part of Rajaji National Park which covers an area around 240 sq km wide. Wildlife lovers come here to admire its scenic beauty and rich biodiversity. It has 23 species of mammals and 315 fauna species. The best time to visit is from 15th November - 15th June.
Fairs & Festivals of Haridwar
Though all the Hindu festivals are celebrated here with pomp and gaiety, it is the Ardh Kumbh which attracts the mind of any tourist to this place. The Ardh Kumbh is held every six years and the last Ardh Kumbha of this century ended this year. It is said that a holy dip in the river Ganges during the Kumbh gives you Moksha or Nirvana.
People gather in huge number to take the holy dip during these holy days. There are Saints, Naga Sadhus, Politicians almost every one is here. The city is overflowing with people. If going to Haridwar during the Ardh Kumbh then avoid the over crowded ghats. Every there are reports of stampedes and the various factions or Akharas of Sadhus clash with each other. Ensure your accommodation well in advance if going during the Kumbh.
Shopping in Haridwar
Haridwar is a pilgrimage center and visitors come here to visit the temples so as such there is no particular item which can be recommended to be bought here. But Haridwar offers you some good handicraft items which can be kept as decorative pieces or can be used as gift items. In the markets surrounding the temples, one can find jewellery imitations which are very popular among the devotees. The bangles, chains, ear and nose rings are some items which can be bough there.
Then the shops also have items made of stone. From Rishikesh, Ganga enters the plains and in all this area it sheds its load of stones which are not only polished naturally but come out in amazing shapes and sizes. These stone are used to make small idols which are very neatly, delicately and intricately carved.
Look out for Kitchen set toys made from stone. You can also get some items of talk stone. The main shopping centers are Moti Bazaar, Upper Road, Jwalapur, Kankhal. The UP handloom Emporium is near the Bharat Mata temple and the government Emporium, Gandhi Ashram is near the Haridwar post office.
Haridwar is located at a height of almost 300 meters . One Should never expect any sort of pleasant high altitude climate here. During the summers the temperature usually hangs around 40 degrees but winters sees the mercury dipping as low as six degrees. So neither of the seasons are suitable or ideal for tourists to venture in Haridwar. The monsoons further add to the miseries of the visitors. The best seasons to visit Haridwar is some where between September and June.