Haridwar Tours
Haridwar Tours

Haridwar literally means Gateway to the Lord. One of the holiest Hindu pilgrim sites on the banks of the sacred river Ganga, Haridwar in Uttarakhand, is a bustling town with crowded markets, a multitude of temples, ashrams and ghats overflowing with pilgrims desirous of attaining a measure of salvation - in this life or in the next one. Most of Haridwar's visitors are temporary - mendicants and sadhus who stop here to offer prayers before venturing to greater heights, pilgrims seeking succour and foreigners in search of spiritual sustenance. Happily for its permanent residents, the turnover never stops and people keep flocking to Haridwar for the many spiritual delights that it offers.

The centre of all this activity in Haridwar is Har-ki-Pauri,which literally means footsteps of God. Lined with temples and guesthouses looking on to the river, the ghats (river landings for bathing) have worshippers bathing early in the morning and the spectacular Ganga Arti (worship of the river Ganga with lamps) in the evenings. In the distance are the Himalayan peaks, and all around forests and hill shrines. The atmosphere, the rituals and the view around Haridwar all serve to give the uninitiated a glimpse into Hindu religious philosophy.

Haridwar is one of the four sites where the great Kumbh Mela takes place every twelve years. Associated with the divine nectar of life churned out of the sea by the gods, Haridwar along with Allahabad, Ujjain and Nasik was one of the spots where the urn was kept down and spilt some of its divine contents. Sanctified by the belief that visiting Haridwar during this period brings more nirvana to the Hindu soul than many years of penance and prayers do, millions of pilgrims throng the town for a dip in the holy Ganga during the Kumbh celebrations.

Haridwar Tours

History of Haridwar

According to Hindu belief, Haridwar is the land that was sanctified by the footprints of the Lord. Associated with both Shiva and Vishnu, it is believed to have been the place where Sati (Shiva’s consort) consigned herself to the sacrificial fire. The terrible ‘Tandava’ (dance of destruction) performed by Shiva in grief led to Vishnu dismembering Sati’s body, with the different parts scattering across India. Besides its pre-eminence in Hindu texts, Haridwar’s claim to fame is its mention by the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang and its invasion by the plundering troops of Timur Lame.

Sightseeing in Haridwar

Sightseeing in Haridwar includes numerous places. The main focus of activity is along the Ganga and on the bathing ghats. Har-ki-Pauri is the main ghat, with bridges and walkways connecting smaller islands in the river.

Metal chains hang from the bridges for pilgrims to hold onto while bathing in the swift currents of the river. It is believed that King Vikramaditya built the ghat in memory of his brother Bhartrihari. Also known as Brahmakund, popular legend says that Lord Vishnu left his footprint at Har-ki-Pauri. Besides bathing at this site, you can take in the spectacular view of the Ganga Aarti in the evenings. Priests perform ritual worship of the river with huge multi-layered lamps, to the sound of conch shells and bells. Thousands of earthen lamps are floated in the water, which glitters like gold in the darkness. Though non-Hindus are not allowed onto the main ghat, they can watch the proceedings from the clocktower on a small island.

Haridwar Tours To the east of Har-ki-Pauri lies the shrine of Maya Devi, one of the 52 shaktipeethas revered by Hindus as the sites where body parts of Sati fell. Dating to the 11th century, the Maya Devi temple is said to be the spot where Sati’s heart and navel fell. Up north is the pool known as Bhimgoda. According to the epic Mahabharata, the Pandava hero Bhim drew water from the rocks by creating a pool with the stroke of his horse’s hoof.

Other sightseeing places include Chandi Devi temple that is situated on top of the Neel Parvat across the Ganga. Built in 1929 by the Maharaja of Kashmir, the last kilometre or so to the temple can be traversed on foot or on a cable car from the Gauri Shankar temple. According to popular legend, the Goddess Shakti killed the demon Chanda-Munda and gained the epithet Chandi, after which the temple is named.

Perched on the crest of the Bilwa Parvat, behind the town is the white painted shrine of Manasa Devi. Dedicated to the mother goddess, the main image in the temple is a three-headed, five armed Durga, while another idol has eight arms.

The temple can be accessed either by foot after a one-and-a-half kilometres trek or, by the ropeway that leaves from Upper Road near the station. From the temple, you get excellent views of the river and Haridwar.

The modern Bharat Mata Temple is an eight-storeyed edifice 5 kms north of the centre. The temple dedicated to ‘Mother India’ has images of important historical figures and Hindu deities.

Haridwar Tours Shanti Kunj is an ashram specialising in yoga lessons and natural cures. Pawan Dham has a temple dedicated to the monkey god Hanuman. The significant feature of this temple is its richly decorated glass interiors. A likeness of the cave shrine of Vaishno Devi at Jammu has been recently established in town.

On the outskirts of town – on the Jwalapur by-pass road is the other sight, Gurukul Kangri University, where training sessions in Ayurvedic medicine are conducted. The university also has a museum called Ved Mandir exhibiting artifacts from ancient times.

At Kankhal, 6 kms downstream, is the famous Daksha Mahadev Temple, also known as Shri Daksheshwar temple. According to Hindu mythology, King Daksha the father of Sati performed a grand fire sacrifice (yajna) at this spot.He invited all the celestial gods and goddesses except Shiva, his son in law, to the sacrifice, which enraged his daughter so much that she burnt herself in the sacrificial fire. When Shiva came to know of this, he beheaded the king, but later restored him to life. The temple is dedicated to this legend and has a gilded image of a serpent symbolising Shiva. The temple set on the banks of the Ganga, surrounded by trees, was built in 1810. Kankhal has some other temples and Ashrams besides the Daksha Mahadev temple.

Where to Stay in Haridwar

Haridwar has a variety of places to stay ranging from deluxe hotels to budget accommodations. Most of the accommodation is near the markets or facing the Ganga on the ghats. If you are looking for a deluxe stay then try Hotel Country Inn & Suites that will provide you with modern amenities and comfortable stay. Other accommodations under deluxe category are Hotel Haveli Hari Ganga that is located at Ramghat in Haridwar or Hotel Classic Residency. You can try Disney Inn Hotel or Le Grand Hotel for a standard stay.

If you don’t want to spend much on your stay then try the mid-rung hotels like Sagar Ganga Resort, Alpana Hotel or Ginger Hotel. These hotels are moderately priced and are well-equipped with decent facilities for your comfortable stay. A traveller with budget constraints can check out budget hotels like Hotel Arjun, Mansarover International or Hotel Jewel. These hotels feature very basic amenities and are apt for a budget traveller. Other that this you will find a number of ashrams and tourist lodges which provide clean and economical stay with very basic facilities.

How to Reach:

The closest international airport is Delhi approximately 200 kms away. The Jolly Grant airport at Dehra Dun is 35 kms away.

Travelling to Haridwar by train is a great option as it is linked with all major cities to cater to the millions of devotees that flock to this city. Janshatbdi Express, Ujjaini Express Dehradun Indore Express, Uttaranchal Express and the Dehradun Madras Express are just a few of them.

The National Highway No. 45 passes through the city and makes a journey to Haridwar by road an excellent travelling option. Travelling to Haridwar by road has been made easy because of the city's proximity to many major cities of northern India. There are many state buses and deluxe buses that go to Haridwar.

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