Location : Uttarakhand Region (Uttar Pradesh)
Main Attractions : Har Ki Pauri, Chandi Devi Temple
Near by Attractions : Rishikesh, Deoprayag
Best Season : September to June
Gateway to the four pilgrimages in the Uttrakhand region, is located on the foot hills of Shivaliks. 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. 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.
Haridwar has earned fame as being the place which has been blessed by the trinity of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. It is also one of the major Shaktipeeths. 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.
Prime Religious Attractions of Haridwar
• 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.
Other Attractions of 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.
Excursions of Haridwar
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.
Fairs & Festivals of Haridwar
• Ardh Kumbh
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 and the last Ardh Kumbha of this century ended this year. 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.
Shopping in Haridwar
Haridwar is a pilgrimage center and visitors come here to visit the temples so as such there is no particular item which can be recommended to be bought here. But Haridwar offers you some good handicraft items which can be kept as decorative pieces or can be used as gift items. In the markets surrounding the temples, one can find jewellery imitations which are very popular among the devotees. The bangles, chains, ear and nose rings are some items which can be bough there. Then the shops also have items made of stone. From Rishikesh, Ganga enters the plains and in all this area it sheds its load of stones which are not only polished naturally but come out in amazing shapes and sizes. These stone are used to make small idols which are very neatly, delicately and intricately carved. Look out for Kitchen set toys made from stone. You can also get some items of talk stone. The main shopping centers are Moti Bazaar, Upper Road, Jwalapur, Kankhal. The UP handloom Emporium is near the Bharat Mata temple and the government Emporium, Gandhi Ashram is near the Haridwar post office.
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.