Haridwar has earned fame as being the place which has been blessed by the trinity of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Haridwar-- gateway to the four pilgrimages in the Uttrakhand region, is located on the foot hills of Shivaliks. It is also one of the major Shaktipeeths. It is on the banks of River Ganga. The Ganga leaves the mountains and enters the plains with Haridwar being the first major town on the plains.
A paradise for nature lovers, Haridwar presents a kaleidoscope of Indian culture and civilisation. Though the Ganges does not lose its rapids completely nevertheless it becomes very quite and calm here. The water is clean and people prefer taking bath on the numerous ghats built on the river shores. It is said that taking bath here purifies the soul and opens the way for the ultimate freedom, Nirvana. Down the ages, Haridwar has purified the mind, the body and the soul. Not only in spiritual or religious terms Haridwar has come up as a major learning center for arts, science and culture. This place has maintained the Gurukul tradition of teaching. This ancient tradition of teaching has maintained its fervour in Haridwar.
Haridwar has since ages been a source of Ayurvedic medicines and has been providing herbal remedies. Haridwar one of the first towns to be developed on Ganges is still lush and green with forest and trees. With Rajaji Park in the vicinity Haridwar has also been the destination for the wildlife and nature lovers.
The city acquires a unique charm in the evening when the ghats become breath takingly beautiful with thousands of Diyas and Marigold floating in the waters of Ganges. The evening prayer at dusk (Aarti) offered to Goddess Ganga at Hari-Ki-Pairi (steps towards God Hari) is an enchanting experience for any visitor. A spectacle of sound and colour is seen when, after the ceremony, pilgrims float diyas (floral floats with lamps) and incense on the river, commemorating their deceased ancestors.
According to Hindu mythology, Haridwar is one among the four sites where drops of the elixir of immortality Amrita accidentally spilled over from the pitcher (or Kumbha), in which it was being carried away by the celestial bird Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu. These four spots -- Ujjain, Haridwar, Nasik, and Allahabad -- have today become places of prominence where the Kumbha Mela is celebrated, cyclically once every 12 years. Here, millions of pilgrims, devotees, and tourists congregate from all over the world to celebrate this celestial event and perform ritualistic bathing on the banks of the river Ganga.
The spot where the nectar (Amrita) fell is considered to be the Brahma Kund at Har-ki-Pauri (literally, "footsteps of the Lord," and symbolically the footprints of the Amrita) and the most sacred ghat of Haridwar; thousands of devotees and pilgrims flock here from all over to take a holy dip. This act is considered to be the equivalent of washing away one's sins to attain Moksha.
Ardh Kumbh Festival :
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. 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.
Har Ki Pauri :
This ghat is one of the most sacred ghats in India. People say that this ghat was built by Vikramaditya in memory of his brother Bhartrihari. This ghat is also known as Brahmakund. In the evening a Maha Aarti is performed on this ghat. It is an event which is a must, not be missed by any visitor.
Mansa Devi :
This temple is located on top of a hill called the Bilwa Parvat. The temple can be reached by the rope way or one can take the normal trekking route to the top. The top of the hill gives you an excellent view of Haridwar.
Kavand Mela :
The fair is held ten days before Shivteras, during the Hindu months of Shravan & Phalgun.
Chandi Devi :
This temple is on the top of a hill called the Neel Parvat which is on the other side of the river Ganga. The temple was constructed by the King of Kashmir, Suchat Singh, in 1929 AD. Chandi Devi is a three km trek from the Chandi Ghat.
Sapt Rishi :
At one place Ganga divides herself into seven small streams. This place is known as the Sapt Rishi and provides a very pleasing sight.
Maya Devi :
It is one of the Shaktipeeths in India. This ancient temple of Maya Devi is also the Adhisthatri deity of Haridwar. It is said that when Lord Shiva was carrying his wife Sati, who had burnt her self to keep the honour of her husband, then the heart and navel of Sati had fallen at this place.
Daksha Mahadev Temple :
Four kms from Haridwar is a town called Kankhal. Mythology says that the king of this place King Daksha Prajapati performed a yagya. His daughter, Sati was married to Lord Shiva. But Daksha was not happy with this marriage and did not invite Shiva-Sati in the Yagya.
But Sati came and was insulted by her father. She could not take the insult and burnt herself in the yagya kund. On hearing this the followers of Shiva killed Daksha. But later Mahadeo (Shiva) brought Daksha to life. The Daksha temple is an attribute to this legend. This place is one of the five sacred places in Haridwar.
Gurukul Kangri University :
This university is known for its unique system of education. it is located on the Haridwar-Jwalapur bypass road. This old institution follows the ancient tradition of Guru-Sishya pattern of education. The institution also has the Ved Mandir Museum which is has a very good collection of archaeological exhibits and displays artifacts which are of historical value.
Neel Dhara Pakshi Vihar :
This place is an enchanting bird watching point particularly during the winters. There are various species of birds which can be spotted here. Around Laljiwala on the banks of river Ganges one can expect the Siberian Cranes, which are one of the prized visitor to this Pakshi Vihar.
Beauty Point :
On the Mansa Devi temple road, about two kilometer from Haridwar is a point which provides an excellent view of Haridwar and the near by greenery. This place is called the beauty point as the sight from here of the surrounding is very exciting and enthralling.
24 kms from Haridwar is Rishikesh. This place is known as the Tapo Bhumi or the place for meditation of the Gods. Rishikesh is one of the popular pilgrimage for the Hindus. At this place the Ganges leaves the mountains and prepares herself to begin a long journey through the plains.
The queen of hill stations is just 89 kms from Haridwar. The salubrious climate and deep woods makes it an ideal hill station.
This hill station is located in the Shivalik hills. Just 54 kms from Haridwar. The thick woods and scenic beauty of the place is enough to capture the imagination of any tourist.
At Chila is located the Rajaji National Park a popular destination for nature and adventure lovers. The pristine scenic beauty and rich biodiversity of the park has been attracting wildlife lovers from India and abroad The park has 23 species of mammals and about 315 avifauna species.
Piran Kalier :
On the outskirts of Roorkee is the Dargah of Hazrat Makhdum Allauddin Ali Ahmed 'Sabir'. It is a must for any visitor to visit this place. The place is known as Piran Kalier and is located 23 kms South of Haridwar. This Dargah is famed for its mystical powers and is visited in large numbers both by Hindus and Muslims. In fact this place is an living example of Hindu-Muslim unity. During the Rabeeull month of Islamic calender, an Urs is celebrated from the first day of sighting the moon to the sixteenth day.
This is again one of the sacred places for the Hindus. At this place the aggressive Alaknanda merges with the gentle flowing Bhagirathi. The place is 95 kms from Haridwar.
Climate and Transport :
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.
Haridwar is about 200 kms from Delhi, the capital of India and is well connected by road and rail network from all parts of India.
By plane :
Dehradun's Jolly Grant airport, with twice daily service to Delhi on Air Deccan, is 20 km from Haridwar.
By train :
There are daily Rajdhani (overnight, Rs.900 for a 1st class A/C sleeper) and Shatabdi (daytime, Rs.400 for an A/C seat including meal) expresses from Delhi (4-5 hours) and Dehradun (1 hour). There are also a few trains per day to Rishikesh, but buses are faster and much more frequent. The train station is located on the south side of town, within walking distance to most hotels but a 2-km hike to Hari-ki-Pairi.
By bus :
Haridwar's bus station, a stone's throw from the train station, is chaotic and has no signage whatsoever in English. There are regular bus services from Delhi (4-5 hours), Rishikesh (1 hour) and other important towns of North India to Haridwar.
Get around :
Central Haridwar can be reasonably comfortably covered on foot. Cyclerickshaws abound, and most trips in town should not cost more than Rs. 20. Taxis and autorickshaws congregate at the train and bus stations.
Tourist Information Centres of Haridwar :
» Regional Tourist Office - Haridwar, Uttar Pradesh, India.
» Tourist Bureau - Laltarao Bridge, Haridwar, Uttar Pradesh, India
» Tourist Information Center - Railway Station, Haridwar, Uttar Pradesh, India
» Tourist Reception Centre - 36, Chandralok Building, Janpath, New Delhi - 110 001
Haridwar has a population of 14,44,213. Males constitute 54% of the population and females, 46%. Hardwar has an average literacy rate of 70%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 75%, and female literacy is 64%. In Haridwar, 12% of the population is under six years of age.