WEEKEND GETAWAYS FROM DELHI: Haridwar (Uttarakhand)
“Ganges’ wave of religion and spirituality”: Haridwar Tourism
No spiritual journey can ever be considered complete without a visit to Haridwar, one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Hindus. Literally meaning ‘the abode of Lord Vishnu’, Haridwar, located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, is a land of legends and myths.
Considered as one of the seven holiest cities in India, Haridwar sees millions of people flock to it every year to pay their respects to the Lord, or to wash away their sins.
However, with the passage of time, Haridwar has evolved from being a mere religious city to a multifaceted cultural and spiritual center, and only after exploring Haridwar will you realize that there is a lot more to the city than just visiting temples and taking a dip in the holy Harki Pauri.
Haridwar has a perennial mystical air around and is the perfect holiday option for anyone seeking spiritual connection as well as a chance to indulge in and get closer to nature.
Har Ki Pauri is, of course, the most visited place in Haridwar. Harki Pauri is essentially a ghat built by King Vikramaditya in the memory of his brother, and the location is thronged by devotees all year round. Every evening, as the sun goes down, the Ganga aarti is performed at the ghat, turning the place into a glittering, sensory spectacle.
With flaming torches and ringing bells wherever you look, the evening aarti at HarkiPauri is a mesmerizing event that should in no way be missed out on. Other ghats in Haridwar that you can visit are the Gaughat and the Vishnu Ghat.
A place of historical significance in Haridwar is the BhimgodaKund/Tank. Situated a short distance away from HarkiPauri, legend has it that the Pandavas stopped to drink water in Haridwar on their way to the Himalayas, and Bhimgoda was the place where Bhim drew water using just his knee, thus giving birth to its name. It is a famous tourist attraction in Haridwar and draws intrigued visitors all year round.
Haridwar has a plethora of temples dedicated to various gods and goddesses. The most famous of these temples include the Mansa Devi temple, the Maya Devi temple, the Chandi Devi temple, the Bharat Mata temple, and the Anandamayi Ashram. A lot of these temples are located on hilltops and offer stunning views of the entire city.
A very popular tourist attraction in Haridwar is the Rajaji Tiger Reserve and National Park, which is spread out over an area of 1000 square kilometers and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Another attraction that nature lovers will enjoy is the Neel DharaPakshiVihar, which is a natural park renowned for being an excellent spot for bird-watching. If you’re lucky (and on time), you might even catch a glimpse of the Siberian Crane inside the park!
Places to Visit:
Ganga Aarti is a religious prayer that takes place at the bank of the sacred river Ganga at the Har Ki Pauri ghat in Haridwar. Bringing in tourists and devotees from all over the world, it is a ritual of light and sound where the priests perform prayers with bowls of fire and the ringing of the temple bells. Visitors float “diyas” (small candles) and flowers, surrounded by the chanting of the mantras and the reflection of the lights off the surface of the flowing river, which is said to be blessed by the Goddess Ganga.
Haridwar is a sacred town in the state of Uttarakhand, on the banks of the river Ganga. The town is believed to be blessed by the holy trinity of gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. Haridwar, literally translating to “Gateway to the Gods”, is a passage of pilgrimage for all worshippers who wish to purify and cleanse themselves of sins in the present and previous lives. Those who bathe in the river are said to have achieved “Moksha” (nirvana). The ceremony of bathing in this blessed river is known as KhumbMela, which takes place in the Har Ki Pauri ghat every 12 years when millions of devotees purge themselves of their ill doings.
Har Ki Pauri:
Regarded as one of the most sacred Ghats in Haridwar and India, Har Ki Pauri is a revered landmark and is visited by devotees and visitors in large numbers seeking the blessings of Holy Ganga by offering their prayers. Har Ki Pauri which literally translates to ‘Steps to Lord Shiva’ is situated in the holy city of Haridwar which is considered as one of the seven holiest places in the country.
A dip in the river Ganges here is believed to wash away one’s sins and according to the Indian mythology, it is one of the four places where the drops of elixir (‘Amrit’) were accidentally spilled by the celestial bird Garuda. The river is filled in a golden hue of countless diyas offered by devotees floating along the river.
Har Ki Paudi is the place where River Ganga flowing through the Himalayas touches the plains for the first time. Oozing serenity and calm all the time, it is the evening time at Har Ki Pauri that is most cherished by its visitors. With a plethora of temples at the riverbank, offerings are made with lighted candles and diyas floating across the river, an enchanting sight to behold.
The chanting of mantras and prayers with sages meditating exudes spiritual vibes and is an experience of a lifetime. The sound of gongs in the background takes one to an entirely different world. Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are believed to have visited the place in Vedic times. The large footprints on a stone wall are said to belong to Lord Vishnu.
Chandi Devi Temple:
The Chandi Devi Temple of Haridwar is a charming temple perched on the Neel Parvat of the Shivalik Hills. Built-in the year 1929 by the then king of Kashmir, it is believed that this temple has existed in one form or the other since the 8th century.
This is a very famous pilgrimage and gathers devotees all around the year. Chandi temple is also known as Neel ParvatTeerth is one of the five pilgrimages of Haridwar. It is also known as Siddha Peetha, a place where devotees worship to fulfill their desire. Because of its location, the Chandi Devi temple is also a preferred choice for trekking tourists.
You can also reach the temple zenith by the means of a ropeway, the view from which is exhilarating.
The historic beauty of Chandi Devi Temple is best experienced as you hike your way up to the top. With the verdant greenery of the surrounding, you will certainly feel the presence of the divine around you. Being one of the oldest and revered temples in Haridwar, this shrine has a tremendous footfall throughout the year. One of the most festive times here is during the festivals of ChandiChaudas, Navratra, and Kumbh Mela when the temple sees amazing celebrations and massive participation. The Chandi temple during the festival time is a must-visit.
Mansa Devi Temple:
The Mansa Devi Temple is a famous temple in Haridwar in Uttarakhand that is dedicated to the goddess Mansa Devi, who is considered to be a form of Shakti and is believed to have emerged from Lord Shiva’s mind.
Thousands of Hindus flock to the temple every year in large numbers to this temple, which is one of the ‘PanchTirths’ or the five pilgrimages in Haridwar. The temple is also popularly known as BilwaTirth and is perched on the top of the BilwaParvat on the Sivalik Hills.
The word Mansa means to wish, and devotees firmly believe that the goddess Mansa fulfills all the wishes of a dedicated and sincere person who visits the temple. Thus, the magnificent temple is regarded as a ‘SiddhPeetha’, which is the term that is used to refer to places where desires and wishes get fulfilled.
Together with the Maya Devi Temple and Chandi Devi Temple, the three temples constitute the three Peethas that are located in Haridwar.
The Mansa Devi Temple holds immense religious importance, not only because of the temple itself but also because it is located in Haridwar, which is believed to be one of the four places where drops of elixir fell accidentally while they were being carried by Garuda, Lord Vishnu’s vehicle.
This is perhaps why this grand temple has one of the highest footfalls of all temples in north India. The ropeways that lead up to it are yet another feature that adds to the magnificence of the temple and attracts tourists from all across the country.
Vaishno Devi Temple:
A replica of the Vaishno Devi temple in Kashmir, the temple is marked by tunnels and caves that lead to the inner sanctum containing the shrine of Goddess Vaishno Devi.
Daksha Mahadev Temple:
A famous temple in Kankhal, HaridwarDakshaMahadev Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple becomes a center of attraction in the month of Sawan when all the devotees flock to the temple to worship.
- Shanti Kunj:
Shantikunj was established in 1971 as the headquarters of the social and spiritual organization All World GayatriPariwar (AWGP). The massive ashrams attract thousands of pilgrims seeking spirituality and encourage meditation and world peace. The organization also served as the global center for YugNirmanYojana (Movement for the Reconstruction of the Era).
Located on the Delhi – Haridwar Highway at Kankhal, PatanjaliYogPeeth is possibly the largest yoga ashram in all of the worlds. The institute is the flagship project of Rishi Ramdev and is the center is used to research yoga and Ayurveda. The center is spread over vast acres of land and is divided into two campuses.
Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary:
Spread across 249 sq km east of Ganges, the wildlife sanctuary is home to small cats, tigers, elephants, and bears apart from various birds.
- Maya Devi Temple
- Bharat Mata Mandir
- Sapt Rishi Ashram
- Crystal World
- Fun Valley Water Park
Best time to Visit in Haridwar:
- October to February is a good time to Visit in Haridwar in Winter
- July to September is a good time to Visit in Haridwar in Monsoon
- March to June is a good time to Visit in Haridwar in Summer.
How to Reach:
How to Reach Haridwar by Flight
Haridwar has no airport. The nearest airport is in Dehradun. It is the Jolly Grant Airport. Taxis and buses are easily available from there till Haridwar.
Nearest Airport: Dehradun – 43 km from Haridwar
How to Reach Haridwar by Road
Haridwar can easily be reached via roads. The roads are well connected to every major city in India. Taxi. buses and private vehicles can be used to reach here.
How to Reach Haridwar by Train
Haridwar has a well-connected railway system. The trains are available in many cities. From the railway station, many taxis are available to take you to any place you desire.