Haridwar is the gateway to the Char Dham (four pilgrimages) of Uttarakhand. It’s also your starting point on the journey to the sacred sources of the rivers Ganga and the Yamuna. Haridwar has great historical and mythological significance in Hinduism. It is one of the seven holiest places to Hindus. In Sanskrit, Haridwar stands for Dwara of Hari or Gateway to God, where ‘Hari‘ means God and ‘Dwar‘ means Gate. In ancient times, the city was referred to as Gangadwára, the place where the Ganges descends to the plains.
Haridwar is a vegetarian city by law, as well as an alcohol-free city as alcohol is banned in Haridwar.
According to the Samudra manthan, Haridwar is one of four places where drops of Amrit (the elixir of immortality) accidentally spilled over from the pitcher while being carried by the celestial bird Garuda. This is manifested in the Kumbha Mela being celebrated every 3 years in one of the 4 places, and thus every 12 years in Haridwar. Other three places are Ujjain, Nasik and Allahabad. Amidst the Kumbha Mela, millions of pilgrims, devotees, and tourists congregate in Haridwar to perform ritualistic bathing on the banks of the river Ganges to wash away their sins to attain Moksha. Brahma Kund, the spot where the Amrit fell, is located at Har ki Pauri (literally, “footsteps of the Lord“) and is considered to be the most sacred ghat of Haridwar.
How to reach Haridwar
Haridwar by Air:
Jolly Grant is the nearest airport, which is around 35 km from Haridwar. Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi is the nearest International Airport.
Haridwar by Rail:
Haridwar is well connected by trains to almost all the major cities in India. In fact, trains are the major source of the tourist flow to Haridwar. Several trains available from Mumbai, Delhi, Varanasi, and Kolkata.
Haridwar by Road:
Haridwar is well connected through NH 58 and NH 74. An excellent roadway and road transport network connect Haridwar to and from all major cities and towns of Uttarakhand and north India. Bus services offered by the UP Roadways, Uttrakhand Roadways, DTC and other states transport corporations to travel Haridwar. Private bus operators and taxis are also available.
Best Season / Best time to visit Haridwar
- Winter (October-February) is little chilly with minimum night temperature of about 6°C. The day temperature in winter never crosses 30°C, making the season pleasant and sunny. Karthik Poornima is celebrated in November.
- Summer (March-May) has a temperature band of 18°C to 40°C. This is a good time for enjoying festivals like Ramnavmi and Buddha Purnima
- Monsoon (June-September) receives moderate rainfall and humidity increases, making day activities a challenge.
Tourist Attraction in Haridwar
Har Ki Pauri: This ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya (1st century BC) in memory of his brother Bhrithari. It is believed that Bhrithari came to Haridwar and meditated on the banks of the holy Ganges. When he died, his brother constructed a Ghat in his name, which later came to be known as Har-Ki-Pauri. This ghat is particularly busy during the Kumbh Mela when millions of devotees take a holy dip here. Ganga Aarti is celebrate everyday evening on Har ki Pauri.
Sati Kund: It is located in Kankhal, Sati Kund is believed to be where Sati immolated herself.
Bhimgoda Tank: It is ocated 1 km from Har-ki-Pauri, this tank is believed to have been created when Bhima drew water from the rocks here by thrusting his knee on the ground.
Triveni Ghat: Following Har-ki-Pauri, the Triveni Ghat is visited by people who worship the river with milk and diyas. Post sunset, priests perform religious ceremonies and set floating lamps on the water as part of the aarti ceremony.
Temples in Haridwar
Chandi Devi Temple: It is located atop the Neel Parvat, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Chandi who is believed to have killed the demon. Chandi Devi temple is accessible by a walk up the hill, though ropeway services can also be used.
Mansa Devi Temple: Located atop the Bilwa Parwat, the deity is believed to have wish-granting powers. Within the main temple are two idols of the Goddess – one with three mouths and five arms, and the second with eight arms. The cable car ride to Mansa Devi Temple offers picturesque views of the entire city.
Maya Devi Temple: This temple was built in the 11th century, this ancient temple is dedicated to the Adhisthatri Devi and regarded as one of the Siddhapethas. Maya Devi temple holds special importance for Hindus. It is believed that this was the spot where the heart and navel of Goddess Sati fell.
Daksha Mahadev Temple: This ancient temple is dedicated to a legend of Goddess Sati’s wedding to Lord Shiva. According to legend, King Daksha Prajapati, father of Goddess Sati performed a yagna (holy prayers) here, to which he did not invite Lord Shiva. When Shiva arrived uninvited, he was further insulted by the king. This infuriated the goddess and she self-immolated herself in the yagna fire. King Daksha was later killed by the demon Virabhadra. Later, Shiva himself brought the back to life.
Doodhadhari Barfani Temple: A sprawling temple complex in white marble, This temples is dedicated to God Ram-Sita and Hanuman.
Sureshwari Devi Temple: Located within the Rajaji National Park, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. Remember, permission from forest rangers is mandatory to visit it.
Bharat Mata Mandir: A huge 8-storey temple, each floor within has idols belonging to different mythological legends, leaders and heroes, who have worked towards India’s independence. The first floor of the temple has the statue of Bharat Mata holding India’s map.
Parad Shivling: Located in Kankhal, its main attractions include the shivling weighing almost 150 kg and the Rudraksha Tree.
Neel Kantha Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is sited at a height of 1700 metres. According to a legend, this is the place where Lord Shiva drank the poison churned out of the cosmic ocean. The Shivratri festival is held here in reverence to the Lord.
Wildlife in Haridwar
Neel Dhara Pakshi Vihar: This is one of the best spots to view a wide array of birdlife, especially migratory birds during winters. Among other species, you can catch a glimpse of much-loved Siberian Crane around Laljiwala on the banks of the river.
Chila Wildlife Sanctuary: Located 10 km away, this sanctuary is part of the Rajaji National Park and houses a good number of rare Himalayan flora and fauna. The sanctuary remains closed annually from mid-June to mid-November.
Ashrams in Haridwar
Jairam Ashram: This is one of the most unavoidable spots of Haridwar. It houses within several sculptures from Hindu mythology. The most famous structure is the huge white statue depicting the famous scene of Samudra Manthan or churning of the ocean for the pot of holy nectar, which grants Haridwar its religious significance.
Sapt Rishi Ashram & Sapt Sarovar: This beautiful spot was the meditating ground for seven great sages or Saptarishis, namely Kashyapa, Vashisht, Atri, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gautam. It is here that Ganga split herself into seven streams so that the Rishis would not be disturbed by the flow.
Anandamayi Ma Ashram: Located in Kankhal, the ashram houses the samaadhi shrine of one of the most noted saint Sri Anandamayi Ma.
Gurukul Kangri University: One of the few universities that still follow the ancient of Guru-Sishya pattern of education. Visit the Ved Mandir Museum which has an exceptional collection of archaeological exhibits and artifacts.