Haridwar is one of the seven holiest places for Hindus. It literally means ‘Gateway to God,’ and it is the place where the Holy Ganges leaves the mountains to flow down God’s own town. Thousands of devotees come here every week to bathe in the holy waters and gather round the Har-Ki-Pauri, for the evening aarti or prayers.
Associated with hundreds of legends, from times as old as Ramayana, every ghat and almost every other corner has a story to tell the visitors. No wonder there is so much about the city many of us may not know, despite visiting several times.
So, next time you are here, be sure to take note of these points for sure:
1. Haridwar is the first place down the mountains that welcomes the holy River Ganga.
In the Satya Yuga, it was Bhagiratha who brought Ganga to earth in order to purify the spirits of all his ancestors.
2. Haridwar also features among the four venues for the Kumbh Mela, which witnesses the world’s most peaceful gatherings.
The other three destinations are Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain. The festival is held once at each venue after a gap of 12 years.
3. Every evening, hundreds of devotees collect around Har ki Pauri and offer the Goddess Ganga their prayers and lit diyas, that float in Ganga’s bosom.
Har ki Pauri, which literally translates into “the footsteps of Lord Shiva,” marks the entry point of the Ganga.
4. Haridwar street food comes in enormous variety and prices so low you wouldn’t believe.
In the old lanes of Haridwar, you will get the chance to eat all kinds of local food.
Start with chaatpapdi and end it with jalebi and badam milk. And if you have the space left, down it all with kulfi and faluda.
Don’t miss aloopuri at Mohanji Puri wale and kachoris at Kashyap Kachoriwala. You can also try the sweets at Mathura Walon Ki Prachin Dukaan.
5. Haridwar is a globally renowned Mecca for yoga.
The city boasts of unparalleled yoga ashrams, for which bookings have to be made well in advance.
6. It is the karam bhoomi of Baba Ramdev.
It is in Haridwar that you will find Divya Yog Mandir Trust University. The main branch of Patanjali Yogpeeth is also here.
7. A ropeway that carries devotees to the hilltop temples of Chandi Devi and Mansa Devi is nicknamed “Udan Khatola”.
8. Believers hold the Mansa Devi Temple on the hilltop in Haridwar can fulfill devotees’ wishes.
It is believed that if you pray to Mansa Devi with a clear heart, she will fulfill all your wishes.
9. Temples, Gods and Goddesses – Give them a break and go shopping at Upper Road Market.
Next to the Moti Bazaar, you will find a long line of shops, selling all kinds of curios and handicrafts. Be it woolens, sweet meats or religious stuff, you will find it all here.
10. The historical Moti Bazaar here is as old as the city itself.
Bustling with crowds while you shop, you can hog on jalebis, choley bahturas and rasgullas.
11. Hundreds of small and big temples, and amidst them also stands the famous 13th century dargah, Piran Kaliyar.
This historical and beautiful dargah was built by Ibrahim Lodhi and is the resting place of Sufi saint Alauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir Kalyari.
12. Ayurveda and Hinduism are deep rooted in Haridwar; you can best observe it at Shanti Kunj.
Shanti Kunj is known worldwide for its research and development in herbal and Ayurvedic sources. Here, a havan goes on continuously for world peace.
13. Want to ride an old-fashioned tonga or tuk tuk? Haridwar is one of the last places in the country where you can enjoy this ancient ride.
Haridwar is one of those few places in India, where the old fashioned tonga rides still exist. You can hire one for all day and see the city up close.
14. The Pardeshwar Mahadev Temple in Haridwar has a Shivalingam made of mercury.
A mercury shivling is very rare. According to the sages, the temple in sandstone looks breathtaking at dawn and dusk. The temple is also famous for rudraksh trees that are growing right in its compound.
15. For some solitude in serene environs, head straight to the Birla Ghat.
It is one of the oldest ghats of Haridwar and unlike Har Ki Pauri, it offers the visitors some solitude.
16. A temple here is dedicated to Mother India.
It’s called Bharat Mata Mandir.
17. Kushavarta Ghat is where Hindus perform last rites for departed souls; it is also the place where the sage Dattatreya is believed to have stood on one foot for a thousand years.
18. Daksha Mahadev Temple is the temple where Daksha Mahadev had performed the infamous yajna in which Sati had self-immolated herself.
The holy pyre, in which she sacrificed her life, still burns here.
19. Haridwar has an exact replica of Vaishno Devi Temple.
If you have missed out going to Vaishno Devi Temple in Katra, there is a replica of it in Haridwar. The architecture is identical to the original shrine and it also has a network of caves.
20. Have you ever seen a temple on a roof top? The Jai Shani Dev Mandir in Haridwar has this unique feature.
The deity is worshipped in the form of a pillar or Sthamba. This rare place of worship consists of 12 pillars each dedicated to a deity.
21. One of the oldest cities in the world, Haridwar dates back to 1700 BC.
It has even been mentioned in the chronicles of Huan Tsang (629 AD). Seen below is a sadhu playing a flute on the bank of River Ganga.
22. The ancient city was connected by the rail network way back in 1886.
While people in most parts of India were travelling by bullock carts and tongas, the rail track had reached Haridwar in 1886 and was extended till Dehradun in 1900.
23. Haridwar has several ancient names including Kapilsthan, Gangadwar and Mayapuri.
24. Haridwar is the entry point for the famous Chaar Dham Yatra.
Devotees, who are keen to undertake this Char Dham Yatra, need to begin their journey from Haridwar.