Regarded as one of the seven holiest city to Hindus, Hardwar has many prominent temples in and around the city. As per Hindu Mythology while carrying Amrit (elixir of immortality) Garuda spilled drops of the Amrit at four sites – Hardwar, Ujjain, Nashik and Prayag. And thus Hardwar also became one of the four sites for the Kumbh Mela.
I often heard different people pronouncing the city’s name as Hardwar or Haridwar – Haridwar being more popular. As I came to understand from a local (and got confirmation online) that has nothing to do with pronunciation. Hara refers to Lord Shiva and Hari refers to Lord Vishnu while Dwar means door / gate. Most pilgrims visits Haridwar to take a dip in the Ganga water (thus purifying themselves) before starting their trip to the Chardhams – Kedarnath (Lord Shva’s Temple), Badrinath ( Lord Vishnu’s Temple), Gangotri and Yamunotri. Thus this city is the door to Kedarnath hence Hardwar to the followers of Lord Shiva while it is the door to Badrinath hence Haridwar to the followers of Lord Vishnu.
On top of this Hardwar is also supposed to have the presence of the three main gods as per Hindu Mythology – Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar (Shiva).
The pandits (priests) of Haridwar are supposed to keep the genealogy records of most of the Hindu population. Scary!!! Not sure if I will find mine but I didn’t venture into the same. However after Returning back to pavilion and reading some articles on the same, I felt like checking out if they really have my family tree.
Apart from being a Holy city for taking a dip in the holy water, Hardwar is also well known for yoga and meditation, Ayurveda and herbal remedies, learning different arts and culture, inexpensive woolen clothes and quilts. It is also supposed to uphold the Indian traditional teaching system called Gurukul.
Devotees flock into Haridwar all through the year to take a dip in the River Ganges to wash away their sins in order to attain Moksha. River Ganges enters the plains of North India at Haridwar after flowing for 253 kms. From its source at Gangotri Glacier. The river flows into many channels and as I remember the Har Ki Pauri ghat is on one such channel. The channels are dried up annually for maintenance.
Among the many ghats in Haridwar Har Ki Pauri (footsteps of the Lord) is the most holiest as the Drop of Amrit fell on this Ghat. The Kumbh Mela is hence held on this Ghat.
Our hotel was on one of the ghat and had a private ghat as well. There were particular ghats in the city where you can take a dip in the river, but our hotel’s private ghat or the one next to it are on the same side of river Ganga as is Har Ki Pauri (the side where the Aarti is performed) and as I understood one is not supposed to take a dip or even dip you leg with your shoes on. All you can do it get a mug and use it to pour the river water on yourself.
Since I was traveling with my parents I ended up visiting the two popular temples which are not so great architecturally but I was glad to have taken this trip as both the temples being on top of two separate hills gave a good view of the surrounding and the city.
Above pictures are views from Mansa Devi Temple while the ones below are from and at Chandi Devi Temple. Monkeys are everywhere so it is better to be careful.
Info: There is a combo ticket for using the rope way up to both the temples which includes the transport between the temples. However the route from Mansa Mandir to the bus stop is not a good one for those who have walking issues.
Best mode of transport would be walking or the manual rickshaw. However I saw many battery driven rickshaws as well. And of course you do have the petrol run auto rickshaw too.
As for food, I kinda stuck to my own cuisine – Bengali. Haridwar is quite popular among Bengalis and hence Haridwar has many good inexpensive restaurant for Bengali food and our favourite was Dada Boudir Hotel. I loved and enjoyed each meal to the maximum extent possible.
There were some snacky street food I tried too which was a first for me.
For some reason I was not at all impressed by this city. Haridwar is the closest rail station to Rishikesh, where I want to visit again and that is the only reason I will be visiting this city.
Next stop Dehradun.