Haridwar is district of Uttarakhand state in India. Haridwar is place where the river Ganges enters in plain areas north India after flowing 250 kms from its origin Gaumukh (Gangotri Glacier).
Haridwar is the place where people from across the India visit for pilgrimage and to take a holy dip into the holy river Ganges. Haridwar city is an ancient and it is one of the most sacred cities in India. The diverse nature of the Hindu religion has attracted foreign visitors from all around the world. Foreigners always attracted to Haridwar because here they can closely experience India's complex culture, various Hindu rituals and the ancient civilization.
Haridwar is one of the primary areas where river Ganges emerges from the mountains and enters to the plain areas. Lush green forests and crystal clear water of river Ganges and background of mountains create the charming beauty of this holy city. In the evening ghats looks beautiful as hundreds of diyas (lamps) and marigold flowers float and light up the river Ganges. The Rajaji National Park is just 10 kms from Haridwar. Its an ideal destination for wild life and adventure lovers. "Agar apne paap dhone hai to Haridwar mein Gangaji ki dubki lagao" (If you want to purify yourselves take a holy dip in the water of river Ganges at Haridwar. All your sins will be purified). This is most common thing which you can hear about Haridwar in all over India.
Haridwar contains two words Hari and Dwar. Hari means god and Dwar means gate. Haridwar means gateway to the god. There are four holy temples Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath on the hills also known as chardham. Haridwar is like a entry point to these chardham. People visit Haridwar before visiting these temples so the town was became famous as Haridwar. Shaivites call it Har Dwar Gateway to Lord Shiva (Kedarnath Temple) and Vaishnavites call it Hari Dwar Gateway to Lord Vishnu (Badrinath Temple) It is also said that Haridwar is blessed by the presence of all three major Gods of Hindus namely Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar. Thus, with all these mythological links attached to its name, it's little wonder why Haridwar is often referred to as 'gateway to god'.
Haridwar is an ancient pilgrimage site situated in the foothills of the shivalik range in Garhwal Himalayas. Haridwar is welcomes the river ganga to the plain areas. Haridwar means gurgling of river Ganges, innumerable temples, groups of monks in saffron clothes, enchanting sounds of vedic hymns and the divine holiness.
Apart from religious importance Haridwar is also a centre for learning different arts and culture. Haridwar is well known as great source of Ayurvedic medicines and herbal remedies. Haridwar is now home to unique Indian tradition of teaching "Gurukula." Gurukula Kangri Vishwavidyalay is providing unique teaching in Gurukul system since 1902.
Haridwar is always place of interest for the researchers because it is one of the oldest living cities in India. Haridwar has numerous temples with interesting legacies. Maa Ganga after carrying the purity of heaven from the kamandal of Lord Brahma, washing the feet of Lord Vishnu and flowing through the sahastrara of Lord Shiva came on this earth and made Haridwar as itâ€™s divine flow area. From time immemorial, Maa Ganga has been doing the duty of absorbing the heat and negativities of this earth. Besides and , It is Gateway for the four dhams of Himalayas viz. Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Haridwar is divided in several small areas such as Mayapur, Ranipur, Jwalapur, Har Ki Pauri, Motichur, Devpura, Bhupatwala, Haipur Kalan, Shivalik Nagar, and Brhampuri. Haridwar is also one of the four places where Kumbh Mela occurs after rotation of every twelve Years and Ardh Kumbh after every six years. It is said that drops of Amrit (Elixir) fell in to the Brahmkund of Har-Ki-Pauri, therefore considered that a dip in the Brahmakund.
It has been proved by archaeological findings that terracotta culture had an existence in Haridwar during 1700 B.C. and 1800 B.C. Haridwar has been in people's mind from the period of Buddha to the British arrival and still in the 21st century. Haridwar was ruled by Maurya Empire from 322 BCE to 185 BCE and later it came under the rule of Kushan Empire according to historical evidences. Well-known Chinese traveler Huan Tsang visited India in 629 AD. He has mentioned Haridwar in his travel journal. At that time Haridwar was part of the kingdom of the King Harshvardhan (590 to 647). The city was also invaded by Timur Lang (1336–1405), a Turkish King on January 13, 1399. First Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak (1469–1539) bathed at 'Kushwan Ghat' on Baisakhi Day. Later in the 16th century Haridwar came under reign of Mughals and emperors like Akbar and Jehangir stamped their dominated here. According to Ain-e-Akbari Mughal Emperor, Akbar drank water from the Ganges river collected from Haridwar, which he called 'the water of immortality'.
Thomas Coryat, an English traveler visited Haridwar during the reign of Jehangir. In 18th centaury Haridwar was a port city and it was widely used by ships of East India Company. One of the two major dams on the river Ganges is the Bhimgoda Dam. It is situated in Haridwar. Dam was opened in 1854. Haridwar Municipality' was constituted in 1868 including Kankhal and Mayapur. Haridwar was connected with railways by Laksar Railway Station in 1886. In 1901, Haridwar has population of 25,597 and Haridwar was a part of the Roorkee tehsil, in Saharanpur district of the United Province. Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya was established in 1902. In 1946 Haridwar was merged in Uttar Pradesh State.
Haridwar Legends : According to Kedarkhand (Chapter 111) in Skanda Purana, the ancient great King named as Shwet did long penance on the bank of river Ganges at Haridwar. The Brahma pleased with his devotion & blessed that the place will be special place with blessing from all gods and bathing here will be very fruitful to devotees. Raja Vikramaditya's brother Bhratuhari has also done penance here. In his memory, King Vikramaditya built a “Paudi (pawadi)”/ Steps here, which later became famous as Har Ki Paudi or Har Ki Pauri. Apart from this two Guru Datatrey also has spent great amount of time here in Meditation. Haridwar is mentioned in various ancient Indian scriptures (Purans, Upanishads and Mahabharata) as a Mayapur, Kapilsthan, Mokshdwar or Gangadwar. In Mahabharata great sage Dhaumya mentioned Haridwar (Gangadwar) as a major pilgrimage town to Yudhisthira.
The legendary King Bhagirath, great grandson of the King Sagar of Suryavanshi clan (an ancestor of Lord Rama), is said that he brought the river Ganga down from heaven, through his long penance of many years, for the salvation of the souls of his 60,000 ancestors from the curse of the sage Kapila. The penance was answered and the river Ganges trickled out from Lord Shiva's locks and its ample holy waters rejuvenated the 60,000 sons of King Sagara. Sage Kapila lived here in his ashram so this place was also known as Kapilsthan. The tradition which was established by King Bhagirath is now followed by thousands of Hindu devotees, who bring the ashes of their departed family members, in hope of their salvation by the water of river Ganges.
Pandits (Priests) of the Haridwar have been known to keep genealogy records of most of the Hindu population. Known as vahis, these records are updated on each visit to the city, and are a repository of vast family trees of family in North India.
It is believed that nectar (Amrit) which was one of the fourteen valuable ornaments that came out from the sea churning (Samundra Manthan) was sprinkled at 12 places in the entire universe. Out of that 12 places 08 places are in heaven and only 04 places on earth. Har-Ki-Pauri in Haridwar was one of the four places where Amrit was sprinkled on earthr. As a result, every 12 years Khumbh Mela comes to Haridwar and draws more than half a million pilgrims. The Ardha Kumbha Mela comes once in every six years.
It is also said that Haridwar has been blessed by the attendance of all three major Gods; Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Haridwar is the place where terrible Tandava Nrutya (dance of destruction) performed by Lord Shiva in sorrow led to Lord Vishnu dismembering Sati's body, with the different parts scattering across India. Pilgrims believe that they can go to heaven by getting their salvation after a holy dip in the river Ganges at Haridwar.
Haridwar Travel Guide
Haridwar can be visited through out the year. Shoes are not allowed in all temples. Haridwar city is spread over 12.3 sq kms. Its Altitude is 315 meter from sea level. Literacy rate in Haridwar is 73.43 percent. According to census in 2011 population of Haridwar district was 18,90,422 in which Haridwar city has 1,75,010. Haridwar district sex ratio is 880 female per 1000 male. Hindi, Garhwali and English are the major languages in Haridwar. Non vegetarian food and alcohol is strictly not allowed in Haridwar. Auto rickshaw (Vikrams or three wheelers) are best option for visit in side in city. You can also use it on sharing basis. Cotton cloths in summer and woolen cloths in winter are best options for clothing. Avoid short cloths (such as swim suites, mini skirts) because this is holy town. Shoes are strictly not allowed in any temple, holy place or even in the river Ganges. Photography inside the temple or ashram is not allowed at many places. Haridwar is 230 km from Delhi and 25 km from Rishikesh and 110 km from Mussoorie and 55 Km from Dehradun and 110 km from Devprayag.
Things To Do In Haridwar
Ganga Aarti (Ganges Ceremony) : Ganges ceremony at Har Ki Pauri is famous in whole India. Everyday hundreds of people come here for the Ganges ceremony (Ganga Aarti). During some festival days it is visited by more than million people in a day. River Ganges is worshiped in this ceremony, because river Ganges is providing life in the form of water since hundreds of years to mankind. Sit at the ghat with local people. Listen vedic hymns with divine music and chant them along with thousands of people. Feel the auspicious atmosphere and devotion. Offer earthen diyas with in floral bowl to river. Worth to visit if come in this region.
Yoga in Haridwar : Yoga is now popular activity all over the world. In Haridwar there are so many ashrams where you can learn and practice yoga. For short stay in Haridwar you can take short classes in morning and evening from good yoga instructors. For long stay you can learn yoga in deep. Yoga can give you perfect synchronization of mind, breath and body. Yoga can also improve your immunity, relations, energy level and health of your body and mind.
Meditation in Haridwar : Haridwar is sacred place and there are so many places are here which has amazing surroundings for meditation. Here there are so many good meditation instructors who can teach you meditation. Meditation is a practice to train the mind to know our self. Meditation is normally used for relaxation and stress release world wide. Meditation can give you a peace and balance which benefits to you both your emotional health as well as your overall health.
Holy Dip at Ganges : According to Hindu tradition if you take a bath in the river Ganges your all sins will be removed. Average one billion people take holy dip in year. During Kumbh Mela year the number is increased to 10 billions. River Ganges is very clear and has sacred surroundings in Haridwar compare to other towns such as Varanasi or Allahabad. So this is best place to take holy dip at Ganges.
Haridwar Walk : Haridwar walk by Haridwar Rishikesh Tourism is unique way to experience Haridwar. This tour is organized everyday. This tour provides opportunity to know this town and experience the Indian culture as well as day to day life of local people. Tour needs a minimum 05 hours but still you will not get tired because the whole tour has lots of things to do in less walking distance. The walk contains not only visit to interesting places but it also provides opportunity to experience some interesting things such as tasting famous local food items, to see genealogy registers (more than 400 hundred year old tradition), experience of art and culture.
Hinduism Lecture by Guru : This is new trend in Haridwar. So many visitors from foreign countries are eager to learn and know about Hinduism when they come in this holy area. Some Guru's (Spiritual Leaders) are here from them one can have small discussion or lecture on Hinduism. Prior appointment is required for this.
Ashram visit : Haridwar is famous for its various ashrams. Every sect of Hindu has their Ashram in Haridwar. There are so many types of ashrams are their. Every ashram has own work culture and rules. These ashrams are often visited by the well known spiritual leaders from all over India. Some ashrams are well known for their social and religious activities. Thousands of people are living in these ashrams for peaceful life. Visit these ashrams to know their culture, meet people living in ashrams.
Astrology in Haridwar (Palmistry) : Astrology or Palmistry services are also available in Haridwar. Personal horoscope and palm reading can be done at many places but you should choose the best among them. Birth date, time and city are general requirements for the session. Most of the people want to get answers about their future.
Shopping in Haridwar : Haridwar is best place to buy things which are related to spirituality specially Hinduism. There are several shops where they sale different stones, rudraksh, idols and many other things.
Haridwar Biking or Cycling : Haridwar has beautiful surroundings of hills, river and jungle area. So many people like to enjoy biking or cycling to near by areas. Bikes and cycle can be hired on rent. Guide is required when driving to remote areas.
Places To Eat In Haridwar : Haridwar is well known destination for Indian as well as foreign tourists, so Haridwar has lots of varieties in food. In Haridwar traditional Indian cuisine, Italian, Maxican, Chinese, American food is available. North Indian and South Indian food is widely used. Non vegetarian food is prohibited in Haridwar area because it is a holy place. How ever there are lots of varieties of food in Haridwar mainly near Railway Station and Ranipur area. Common Indian traditional Items are below listed.