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Haridwar Travel Guide


 

Located on the foothills of the Shivalik Ranges, along the banks of the Ganges in the state of Uttarakhand, Haridwar is an ancient city which is counted amongst the most sacred and popular religious destinations in India. The holy city gets its name from an amalgamation of two words, ‘Hari’ meaning "God", and ‘Dwar’ meaning "gateway", both of which combined translates to "Gateway to God". It is an entry point to the holy Char Dham Yatra that commences from here every year on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya.

It is important to note that Haridwar is associated with a long history that can be traced back to Vedic times. It is one of the four places along with Allahabad, Ujjain and Nasik, where the drops of elixir (amrit) accidentally fell after the Samudra Manthan, or the churning of the seas by Devas and Asuras. That is why it is chosen to host the famous Kumbh and Ardh Kumbh Mela every twelve and six years respectively. Also, it is in Haridwar where Lord Shiva released Ganga from his hair to remove the curse and absolve the sins of King Bhagirath’s ancestors. No wonder, the town holds a great religious significance and is home to plenty of ancient temples and revered shrines. As much as Haridwar is known for its temples, it is equally famed for its ghats or the river banks where pilgrims flock in great numbers for a holy dip and to absolve their sins.

Other than its religious significance, Haridwar is a city that is fast emerging as a centre of yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic practices. There are several ashrams in the town where tourists can enrol for courses in yoga and spiritual healing. Immersed in tranquillity, they are highly sought after by tourists seeking peace and soul awakening.

Recommended Tour Packages for Haridwar Tour with Char Dham Yatra 2020
Popular Tourist Attractions & Places to Visit in Haridwar

Steeped in a spiritual aura and exuding a mystical charm from every nook and corner, Haridwar is a place that defines the age-old Hindu culture and religion. The place is always abuzz with tourist activity and is home to a number of ancient temples, sacred ghats, ashrams and meditation retreat centres, all of which make for Haridwar’s popular tourist attractions and places must see when in the city.

Har Ki Pauri: By far the most famous ghat on the banks of the Ganges, and a prime religious attraction, Har ki Pauri is the epicentre of spiritualism in Haridwar. Believed to have been built in the 1st century BC by King Vikramaditya in memory of his brother Bharthari, it is highly revered by followers of Hinduism. The revered spot literally translates to “footsteps of the lord” and is considered one of the seven most sacred places in the country, thronged by uncountable pilgrims every day seeking a dip in its holy waters that are said to absolve them off all their sins. It would be interesting to note that Har ki Pauri is also popularly known as Brahmakund and is famed for its world famous "Ganga Aarti" that is held on the river banks every evening. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that thousands of tourists flock here just to get a glimpse of this magical spectacle full of floating lights, echoing chants of the priests, reverberating temple bells and a floral aroma of incense wafting in the air. If you intend to be part of this soulful experience of your life, make sure you are on the ghat at least half an hour early to get a good place to sit and enjoy uninterrupted views of various ceremonies and rituals being performed.

Mansa Devi Temple: Located atop the Bilwa Parbat in the Shivalik Hills, the Mansa Devi Temple is one of the most revered shrines and a part of the “Panch Tirth” within the holy city of Haridwar. The temple is regarded as a Siddha Peeth and dedicated to Goddess Mansa, the wish fulfilling reincarnate of Shakti, who is believed to have been born from Lord Shiva’s mind. The sacred little place can be accessed via two routes: one, on foot via a strenuous walk uphill, and second, taking an aerial ropeway ride (the Mansa Devi Udan Khatola), a much easier option and definitely a fun experience loaded with captivating views of the scenery. If planning to go for the latter, make sure you are at the boarding point a little earlier than the prescribed time, especially during the peak season of Navratri, when the temple gets very crowded and people have to wait for hours in a queue. Devotees who want to get their wish fulfilled, must tie a thread to the holy tree which has been seated inside the temple complex since ancient times. And once their wish is granted, they need to come back again to untie the thread as their gratitude to the deity.

Chandi Devi Temple: Situated atop the Neel Parbat at an altitude of 2900 metres on the eastern summit of Shivalik Hills, Chandi Devi Temple is yet another of the most popular religious sites, and one of “Panch Tirths” of Haridwar. Dedicated to Goddess Chandi Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, the temple is a revered Siddha Peetha and was originally built around 8th century, with Adi Shankaracharya consecrating the principal deity. The present structure dates to 1929 when it was rebuilt by Raja Suchat Singh during his reign in Kashmir. According to legends, Chandi Devi was born out of Goddess Parvati to slain the two ruthless demons, Shumbh and Nishumbh who, during Puranic times, had created havoc in the Indra Lok. After intense prayers by the gods, Parvati assumed the form of Chandi and killed the callous asuras. It is said that after the fight, the goddess rested on top of the Neel Parbat for a short while and the temple here testifies this very legend. Thousands of devotees flock here today, seeking the blessings of the goddess. The number of devotees are greater in number during auspicious festivities of Navratri, Chandi Chaudas and Kumbh Mela. To reach the temple, one can either choose to go for a trek starting from Chandighat or take the recently introduced cable car ropeway, which starts from the lower station near Gauri Shankar Temple in Haridwar.

Maya Devi Temple: Lovers of Hindu mythology cannot skip a visit to the famous Maya Devi Temple, which is counted amongst the most popular spiritual places to visit in Haridwar. Built in the 11th century, the temple is one of the oldest in India and completes the Siddha Peeth Triangle in Haridwar along with two other sacred shrines – Chandi Devi and Mansa Devi. Legend has it that the temple stands at the very site where navel and heart of Goddess Sati fell when she self-immolated herself on a yajna fire during Vedic times. No wonder, it is considered one of the highly revered fifty two Shakti Peetha Shrines and is flocked by pilgrims in great numbers, especially during the festival of Navratri to pay their homage to the presiding deity, Goddess Maya, a three-headed and four-armed deity, considered a reincarnation of Goddess Adi Shakti. Many also consider Maya Devi as the chief guardian of the holy city and believe that a pilgrimage in Haridwar is incomplete without the darshan of this divine deity. Those planning a trip to this sacred shrine must note that the temple sits just a few kilometers from Har ki Pauri and can be easily accessed by auto-rickshaws that run through the town in large numbers.

Patanjali Yog Peeth: The famous Patanjali Yogpeeth run under Baba Ramdev’s flagship project started in 2006, is another great tourist attraction in Haridwar. The institute gets its name from Maharishi Patanjali, the famous yogic guru from the Vedic times, and is one of the largest Yoga and Meditation centres across the world, offering yoga and retreat services to the distressed souls. The complex also houses laboratories dedicated to Ayurvedic research and studies, an Ayurvedic medication & treatment centre, a canteen and a residential accommodation. Whether you are looking to avail any of these services or simply interested in getting a deeper insight into yogic lifestyle & philosophy or the age-old Ayurvedic culture of the country, Patanjali Yog Peeth is a must visit place in the holy city.

Daksha Mahadev Temple: Located in the small town of Kankhal, 6 km. from Har ki Pauri in Haridwar, the Daksha Mahadev Temple is one of the most popular and sacred shrines of Uttarakhand. Named after King Daksha Prajapati, father of Goddess Sati, it is a significant Hindu pilgrimage site visited by uncountable devotees from far and wide. The holy month of Sawan, in particular, sees a massive footfall of pilgrims visiting here in huge numbers to pay their obeisance to Lord Shiva, whom this temple is dedicated to. It is said that in ancient Vedic times, it is at this place that Goddess Sati immolated herself in the sacred yajna fire owing to the humiliation and disrespect caused by her father to Lord Shiva who was her husband. Infuriated at receiving the news of his wife’s sacrificial act, Shiva could not control his anger and emerged as a linga (pillar of light) from the holy fire, beheading Daksha the very moment. The sacred Yajna Kunda is still present in this ancient temple and is said to be the original site where the epochal event from Hindu mythology unfolded. Pilgrims flock here in huge numbers every day to pay their homage to the Shiv Linga and the Yajna Kunda, followed by a visit to other beautiful shrines in the temple precincts.

Sapt Rishi Ashram: Located on the banks of River Ganga, Sapt Rishi Ashram is another popular attraction of Haridwar. The beautiful ashram is located 5 km off the main city and steeped in deep peace and tranquillity, making for an enchanting place to visit when in the holy city. Built in 1943 by Goswami Guru Dutt, it has an interesting legend associated with it, according to which, the ashram sits at the very site where in Vedic times, seven great sages namely Vashisht, Kashyap, Atri, Bharadwaj, Gautam, Vishwamitra and Jamadagni, meditated. Once while they were meditating, the flow of the Ganges disturbed them with her gushing noise. Furious and irritated, the rishis trapped the flow of the river owing to which she split herself in seven streams. These seven streams later came to be known as “Sapt Sarovar” that further reunite a little ahead of the ashram and flow as “Neel Dhara” just before entering Haridwar. As of date today, the ashram is a well maintained complex hosting a residential hostel and a Sanskrit learning centre for the poor children. Visitors can travel here anytime and soak their souls in the tranquil vibes or attend a yoga & meditation class that is held in the ashram premises regularly.

Bhimgoda Tank: Named after Bhima, the second of the five Pandavas from the epic Mahabharata, Bhimgoda Tank is a sacred pond of water placed near Birla Ghat, just 1 km. from Har ki Pauri in Haridwar. According to mythological legends, when the Pandavas were on their way to the Himalayas through Haridwar, Bhima felt the need for some water. He thrusted his knee (Goda in Hindi) against the ground and a tank came into existence with waters of Ganges flowing into it. Today, the place is a popular tourist spot in the holy city, surrounded with a surreal natural scenery peppered with lush gardens and well-manicured flower beds. An array of water fountains further adds to the beauty of the place, lending it a magnetic charm.

Best Time to Visit Haridwar

Blessed with an enchanting scenery and a moderate climate, Haridwar is a year round destination. However, the best months to plan a trip here are February, March and September through November. Starting summers i.e. late March until June, the days are quite hot and make sightseeing and exploration, an exhaustive activity. Nevertheless, it’s a great time to enjoy a dip in the Ganges. With July, the holy month of Savan sets in and major roads are blocked due to heavy pilgrim inflow in the city. Planning a visit during this time certainly gives you a different kind of experience. Beginning September until November, the weather gets extremely pleasant, and travellers during this time can comfortably take pilgrimage and sightseeing tours, along with other outdoor activities.

How to Reach Haridwar

By Road: Haridwar is very well connected by road from majority of the states in North India including Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and other parts of Uttarakhand. Various state transport and private buses frequently ply on these routes. Additionally, tourists can choose between different categories, such as A/C, Non A/C, sleeper and deluxe, depending on their budget.

By Air: The city of Haridwar doesn’t have any airport of its own. The nearest domestic airport is the Jolly Grant Airport that sits in the city of Dehradun and connects it to the metropolises in India including Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Trivandrum. Domestic airlines serving on these routes primarily comprise of Indigo, Spice Jet, Vistara and Air India. After disembarking at the Jolly Grant Airport, tourists can choose between buses and taxis to reach Haridwar. Those travelling from outside India, can take a flight to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. Once there, they can either take a direct taxi, train, or board a domestic flight to Haridwar.

By Train: Haridwar has a railway station of its own, which connects the holy town well with major cities and tourist destinations in India including Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Dehradun, Shimla, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Puri and Kochi. Several trains pass through these stations and provide for a safe and comfortable journey. Tourists can book their seats in any class depending on their preference and budget constraints.

Where to Stay in Haridwar?

Regarded as one of the seven holiest cities for Hindus in India, Haridwar is a place replete with plenty of accommodation choices. From luxury hotels resorts, heritage boutique properties and upscale hotels to decent mid-range and economical lodges, the town caters to every need and budget of tourists travelling to the pilgrim city. Besides, a number of ashrams (hermitages) and dharamshalas dot the city, offering a rustic stay amidst peaceful environs and tranquil settings.

Other Activities to Do in Haridwar

While Haridwar is best known as a spiritual town famed for many religious activities, one can also enjoy various adventure activities like river rafting, bungee jumping and rock climbing, in places located in close proximity to the city of Rishikesh.

Wildlife enthusiasts can embark on wildlife safaris, nature photography and bird watching. Plenty of ashrams and meditation centres have mushroomed throughout the city, offering peace and tranquillity. Tourists can choose from any one of the popular institutes like Patanjali Yoga Peeth, Shanti Kunj and Saptarishi Ashram to try the art of meditation and science of Vedic healing. Needless to say, each of these institutes offer the right ambience, food and accommodation to attain spiritual awakening and peace of mind.

Haridwar has always been a heaven for those seeking traditional Ayurvedic treatment and holistic massages. The Niramayam Naturopathy Centre seated under luxurious settings is well-known for their healthy therapies and makes for a place must visit.

Haridwar is a city very popular among foodies, and probably one of the best things to do here is to gorge on its ultra-delectable street food which is simply a treat for the palettes. Head for some aloo puri at the famous Chotiwala Restaurant, kachoris at the Kashyap Kachori Bhandar and Jalebis, Ras Malai & Rabri from the famous Mathura Walo ki Prachin Dukaan. Those with a sweet tooth are surely going to love a dose of thick and creamy lassi at the ever popular Prakash Lok which buzzes with activity in the Barra Bazaar.

General Information

Temperature:

  • Summer: Max - 36°C. Min - 13°C.
  • Winter: Max - 26°C. Min - 7°C.

Clothing:

  • April to August - Cotton, light coloured clothes.
  • Sept to March - Heavy woolens, jackets & shrugs.

Popular FAQ for Haridwar

Q: Why Haridwar is so famous in India?

Ans: Haridwar is one of the prime Hindu pilgrimage destinations in India, which is believed to have served as the abode of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu in Vedic times. One of the most sacred cities in the country, it is where the holy river Ganges bid goodbye to its origin in the Himalayan realms before entering the plains of North India. The sacred town is home to innumerable temples of religious significance, while also sitting as a gateway to the Chota Char Dham comprising of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Additionally, the place is a historic learning centre and imparts great knowledge about the country's age-old cultures, its ancient science of medicine and various primeval art forms. Not to forget, Haridwar is one of the hosts to the world-renowned fairs of Kumbh Mela and Ardh Kumbh Mela, the two largest congregations recognized across the globe, attended by millions of devotees and pilgrims every twelve and six years respectively.

Q: What is the religious importance of Har ki Pauri?

Ans: Har ki Pauri is by far the most popular religious attraction in the holy city of Haridwar. It gets its name from the words ‘Har’ meaning 'Lord Vishnu', 'ki' meaning 'of' and 'Pauri' meaning 'steps', literally translating to footsteps of the God. It is said that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu visited this very holy site in the Vedic times. A stone wall here on which is engraved a footprint is believed to be that of Lord Vishnu, and testifies to the mythological legend. Besides, it is one of the four sanctified sites across the country where the divine nectar (amrit) fell from the kumbha or the pitcher when it was being carried by the celestial bird Garuda, after the mythological event of Amrit Manthan. No wonder, the place is held in high regards by patrons of Hindu religion and is steeped in spirituality with many ancient temples lining its shores. Pilgrims travel here from across the globe to take a dip in its holy waters and attend the sacred Ganga Aarti in the evening, which not only provides for an enchanting spectacle but is also counted amongst the major things to do in the hallowed city.

Q: What is the best & convenient way to Reach Haridwar?

Ans: Travelling from anywhere across India, the best, fastest and most convenient way to reach Haridwar is by air unless you have budget constraints, in which case, bus or rail would be the most suitable option. The nearest airport to the holy city is the Jolly Grant Domestic Airport that is located in Dehradun and connects the city to every major metropolis in the country. After disembarking here, tourists can hire taxis or buses to reach Haridwar. It would only take close to two hours.

Q: What is the morning & evening time of Aarti at Har ki Pauri?

Ans: Performed twice a day, before sunrise and after sunset, Ganga Aarti is one of the major attractions in Haridwar. The morning rituals start as early as 5.30 AM and continue till 6:00 PM. Those wishing to attend it in the evening, must reach the ghat before 6.00 PM and be part of a magical affair until 7.00 PM. These are the official timings, however, and minor changes may be observed depending on the season.

Q: What is the distance of Rishikesh from Haridwar?

Ans: Rishikesh is located at a distance of almost 23 km from Haridwar by road. The route is frequented by many state and private run buses along with taxis.

Q: Is Wine Allowed in Haridwar?

Ans: Being a holy town of great religious importance, alcohol and liquor along with non-vegetarian food is strictly banned in Haridwar. Note that tourists are thoroughly screened on the checkpoints for carrying any such substances along with them.

Q: How far Kedarnath & Badrinath is from Haridwar?

Ans: Kedarnath sits at a distance of about 240 km from Haridwar, while Badrinath lies approx. 350 km from the holy town. Both are well connected by motorable roads and can be reached via buses and taxis that frequently ply on the route.

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