Perched on the foothills of the mighty Himalayas, at the point where the Ganges emerges to flow out upon the Indian plains, Haridwar is one of the seven holiest places to Hindus which has been held in reverence for centuries.
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 is a spot in Haridwar that is pointed to as Kapila's hermitage. Haridwar, which means 'Gateway of Gods', is also a point of entry to Dev Bhoomi and Char Dham (Four main centers of pilgrimage in Uttarakhand) Viz. Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. This sacred city is home of many Ashrams (hermitages and plac for meditation) and Dharamshalas (rest houses for pilgrims) that have been established by various swamis, yogis and religious institutions.
Haridwar witnesses pilgrims from across the globe who come here in droves to bath in the Ganges. And as the dusk falls, the river comes alive with flickering flames as floating offerings are released onto the Ganges by the devotees of Lord Shiva and Vishnu.The city also hosts a large pilgrimage festival each year in April at the beginning of the Hindu solar year. Kumbha Mela is held every twelve years while the city soaks up in the spiritual colour during Ardh Kumbha, or half Kumbha which is held every six years. During these important festivals, millions of pilgrims throng to Haridwar from throughout India and abroad.
Places to Visit
Har Ki Pauri
Also known as Har ki Pauri, it is the centre of attraction in the pilgrimage town of Haridwar. Devotees gather here to take a holy dip in the Ganges and to offer prayers. The celebration Ganga Aarti is a sight to behold here for tourists. The aarti ceremony takes place here every evening at 7 pm. As the river Ganga is worshipped, hundreds of diyas are set afloat along the river. According to Hindu mythology, Har ki Pauri is the place where a drop of the nectar fell from the moiling oceans, when the world came into existence.
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.
The temple stands in dedication to Goddess Chandi. One of the most ancient in the country, the temple can be reached either by a ropeway ride or by undertaking a steep climb, that takes up around 45 minutes. The rituals at the temple begin as early as 4 am in the morning. Visitors are required to strictly follow the dress code before entering the premises of the Chandi Devi temple.
Daksha Mahadev Temple
The temple is situated towards the south of the Kankhal town. Built by Queen Dhankaur in AD 1810, the Daksha Mahadev Temple is the site where Daksha performed a yagna (a Hindu ritual to invoke gods and seek their blessings). In the Hindu mythology, Daksha Prajapati is the father of Sati, the spouse of Lord Shiva. The temple is just a few minutes drive from the railway station.
The ashram is both ancient and much popular. The words Sapt Rishi is a combination of sapt (seven) and rishi (sage). According to the Hindu traditions, it is the place where the sacred Ganga split herself in seven streams to prevent any disturbance to the seven sages (Kashyapa, Vashisht, Atri, Vishwamitra, Jamadagi, Bharadwaja and Gautam) who were deeply absorbed in meditation. A 5 km drive from Har ki Pauri takes you to the Sapt Rishi Ashram.
Dedicated to goddess Maya Devi, the temple is a major attraction for all visitors to Haridwar. The temple is counted as one of the shaktipithas in India. According to the Hindu mythology, it is the place where the heart and navel of goddess Sati fell down, while Lord Shiva was carrying her burnt body. The heart and naval of Goddess Sati fell at the spot where Maya Devi Temple was built. Numerous festivals are held at the Maya Devi temple in keeping with the customs and traditions. The temple is worshipped as an embodiment of shakti or power. The temple is located to the east of Har ki Pauri and is easily accessible by buses and auto rickshaws. It is regarded as a must visit for devotees going to Haridwar. The temple is visited by many devotees from various parts of the country especially during the Navratra and the Kumbha Mela in Haridwar.
Lakhs of tourists arrive in Haridwar during the Kumbh Mela, held at the interval of every twelve years. Devotees and pilgrims arrive here to purify their sould by taking a holy dip in the divine water of the Ganges. The highly revered Kumbh Mela begins when the plante Jupiter enters Aquarious and the Sun enters Aries.