The Gateway to God – Haridwar
Haridwar, the name means Gateway (Dwar) to Lord Vishnu (Hari)! In other words, it can be said that Haridwar is the place from where you can gain access to the Lord. Haridwar is a religious town which is located in the foothills of Himalayas in the state of Uttrakhand. The City was home to the tri-dev Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Here the holy rives Ganga (Ganges) emerges from mountains and begins a long journey to the Bay of Bengal. Thousands of pilgrims not only from India but across the world come here to take a dip in the holy water of Ganga. Haridwar contains more than 300 Hindu temples and is best place to learn about Hindus and Hinduism.
Haridwar is one of the oldest ancient living cities. Here you’ll find various colors of life and will also experience various Hindu rituals being performed like mundane, pitra daan, dah sanskar, asthi visarjan etc. Every evening, the Ganges comes alive with a surreal glow as hundreds of small lamps are lit and sent to float down the river after prayer.
Best time to visit
How to Reach Haridwar
There are various options available to reach Haridwar. Being a religious tourist destination, Haridwar is well connected to all the major cities of India.
By Air : Jolly Grant Airport of Dehradun, situated approximately 40 km away, falls the nearest from Haridwar.
By Rail : The railway station at Haridwar connects it with all the important cities of India. All the trains going to Dehradun also make a stoppage here.
By Road : With the National Highway passing through it, Haridwar is easily accessible from the key cities in India, by road. You can get buses as well as taxis, from cities like Delhi and Dehradun, for reaching the place.
Where to Stay
Being a famous tourist destination Haridwar has a good number of hotels and lodges. Depending on your pocket you can heir a room that fits your need. All the hotels are well equipped with the modern amenities. If you are looking for a budget stay in Haridwar, then Dharamshalas would be the best option and other available options could be Hotel Alaknanda, Hotel Alpana, Hotel Midtown, etc. For a royal experience ‘Haveli Hari Ganga’ heritage hotel will suit you perfectly.
Hardiwar Attractions & Festivals
Being a religious tourist destination, temples are the main attractions in Haridwar. The evening aartis are a different experience in itself. The environment totally transforms and you are in different world. If you have heard about the “Kumbh ka Mela” that is one big event that takes place at Haridwar, held there once every 12 years. Millions of pilgrims come from across the world to take a dip in Holy ganges. The ardh kumbh is another attraction that takes place once in every six years.
Places to See in Haridwar
Har ki Paudi
The most popular as well as the most scared of all the tourist attractions in Haridwar is the Har ki Paudi. It is basically a bathing ghat that holds as much reverence for the devotees as the Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi. As per the legends, ‘Har ki Paudi’, meaning the Steps (Paudi) of Vishnu (Har), was once visited by Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva and even served as the venue of a yagna by Lord Brahma. Taking a dip in the holy waters around the bathing ghat is one of the main reasons why pilgrims come to the city.
Mansa Devi Temple
A trip to Haridwar, without a visit to the Mansa Devi temple, is totally incomplete. The temple, as the name suggests, is dedicated to Mansa Devi – an incarnation of Goddess Durga. It is situated atop the Bilwa hill. Health conscious people prefer to trek their way to the temple, while the adventure enthusiasts can make use of the ropeway cable car.
Pawan Dham Temple
Situated at a distance of around 2 km from the heart of Haridwar is the Pawan Dham Temple. Dating back to the ancient times, the magnificent temple stands ornamented with intricate glasswork on its walls. The extensively festooned idols of the temple also make it worth paying a visit.
Maya Devi Temple
Another temple in Haridwar that is dedicated to a goddess is the Maya Devi Temple. It enshrines the image of Goddess, as an incarnation of Power or Shakti. One of the major attractions of the temple is that it forms one of the Shaktipeeths in India. Along with that, Maya Devi Temple is believed to be the place that became the recipient of the heart & navel of Sati (wife of Lord Shiva).
Vaishno Devi Temple
Vaishno Devi Temple is amongst those temples in Haridwar that do not have an ancient lineage and were built sometime back only. The major attraction of the temple arises from the fact that its design is majorly based on the Vaishno Devi Temple of Jammu.
Bharat Mata Temple
The most unique and unusual temple of Haridwar is the ‘Bharat Mata Temple’. It is totally different from the typical Hindu temples and is dedicated, not to various Gods and Goddesses, but those people who have influenced the country in one way or the other. Each of the eight stories in the temple is dedicated to a different group, like spiritual leaders, freedom fighters, etc.
Chandi Devi Temple
Chandi Devi Temple dates back to the year 1929, when it was built under the aegis of Suchat Singh, the King of Kashmir. It is situated atop the Neel Parvat and enshrines the idol of Chandi Devi, the Goddess who killed the demon brothers Shumbh-Nishumbh. Legends say that the idol was enshrined there by Adi Shankracharya, in 8th century.
Rajaji National Park
Rajaji National Park offers unspoiled natural beauty only 10 kilometers (six miles) from Haridwar. Its eco-system is estimated to be 10 million years old, and a diverse range of wildlife can be seen there, including elephants.
Swami Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpreeth
Anyone who has an interest in yoga and Ayurveda shouldn’t miss visiting Swami Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpreeth, at Bahadrabad near Haridwar. This fascinating educational institution aims to link ancient wisdom with modern science.