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Haridwar

   Lharid1.jpg (86609 bytes)iterally translated, Haridwar means the Gateway to the abode of Gods'. Haridwar, 214 km northeast of Delhi, is at the base of the Shivalik hills, where the Ganga, coming down from the mighty Himalayas, meets the plains. Amongst the many pilgrimage spots that are situated along the length of the holy Ganga, Haridwar, perhaps, is the holiest in the land.
Haridwar located in the foothills of the Himalayas, represents the point where the Ganga reaches the plains. Haridwar is an ancient pilgrimage site, held in reverence for centuries. The Chinese pilgrim Hyuen Tsang who visited India in the first millennium CE, describes Haridwar as Mayura, on the eastern banks of the Ganges. Several temples and ashrams dot this town and a visit to Haridwar is like stepping into a totally different world.

Legend has it that Bhagiratha, brought the Ganges into the earth, and into this point where his ancestors were burnt to ashes by the curse of the sage Kapila. Kapilastaan, a spot in Haridwar is pointed to as Kapila's hermitage. Haridwar was once known as Gangadwara.

Haridwar (and Rishikesh) represents the gateway to the Himalayan pilgrimage shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath . The pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrines begins only when the sun reaches the zodiac sign of Aries. Haridwar is also the site of celebration of the Kumbha Mela, once in twelve years, when Jupiter transits to the zodiac sign of Aquarius.

The five sacred bathing spots in Haridwar are Gangadwara, Kankhal, Nila Parvata, Bilwa Theertha and Kusavarta. The main ghat at Haridwar is known as Hari-ki-Pairi (known for a footprint of Vishnu on a stone in a wall). Nearby is the Gangadwara temple, the most important of the several temples that dot this town. The Ganga Aarti which is celebrated at 7 pm each night, is a spectacular sight, when the aarti ceremony is performed at all temples in Haridwar at the same instant (see image above). Hundreds throng to the ghats at Hari-ki-Pairi to participate in this festival. Offerings of lamps and flowers are made to the river immediately following this ceremony and it is a moving sight to watch hundreds of miniature lamps float along the river.

Near Haridwar are the towns of Mayapuri and Kankhal. Kankhal houses the Daksheswara temple, said to be the site of Daksha's yagna, which was destroyed by Shiva.   Its long history, which goes back to pre-historic times, has lent it many names. In Hindu mythology, it is known as Kapilsthan. Legend has it, that the Suryavanshi Prince Bhagirath, performed penance here, to salvage the souls of his ancestors, who had perished, due to the curse of the sage Kapila. The penance was answered, and the river Ganga trickled forth from Lord Shiva's locks, and its bountiful waters revived the sixty thousand sons of King Sagara. Amongst its other names, are Gangadwar, and Tapovan. Known also as 'Mayapuri' in the Puranas, it is mentioned in the memoirs of the celebrated Chinese traveler, Hieun Tsang.

  Haridwar has always remained as a major Shaktipeeth for the devotees. Of such significance is Haridwar in the thought of India’s traditional Hindus that it has earned its sobriquet of honour, `the gateway to the Gods’.

According to the myth attached to Haridwar, drops of nectar churned out from the primordial ocean, fell at the four sites of the Kumbh fair, which included Haridwar. The Kumbh, and the Ardh Kumbh fairs are grand events, when millions of devoted Hindus take a holy dip in the sacred river Ganga.

     Down the ages, this special importance of Haridwar as the ever-refreshing mystic venue for the purification of the mind, body and soul gained more impetus…    and today, manifests into great events that take place here, i.e. the memorable Kumbh Mela which happens once every 12 years and the Ardh Kumbh Mela, which comes once every six years. Yet, beyond the mystic aura and mythology, Haridwar casts another magic spell on the visitor. Being one of the oldest living cities, Haridwar finds its mention in the ancient Hindu scriptures as it weaves through the life and time stretching from the period of Buddha to the more recent British advent. Haridwar has not only remained the abode of the weary in body, mind and spirit, but also served as a centre for attraction for many, for learning the arts, science and culture.

Haridwar is also a centre of Ayurveda (herbal medicine), and traditional studies at Gurukul Kangri. There are many places of scenic beauty on the outskirts of the town.

Travel Information :

  • Rail : Haridwar is well connected to Howrah (1438 kms), Bombay (1574 kms), Delhi (199 kms), Lucknow (475 kms), Agra (365 kms).
     

  • Road : Haridwar is also accessible  from all major Places within the Country.
     

  • Air : The nearest airports are Dehradun, Jolly Grant, Bhaniawala which are connected to Delhi and Lucknow.

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