Haridwar has a very rich ancient religious and cultural heritage. In the ancient scriptures of India, this place is well known by the name of Mayapur. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, Haridwar represents the point where the Ganga reaches the plains. Haridwar is an ancient pilgrimage site, held in reverence for centuries. It is a gateway to the Himalayan pilgrimage shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath. Once in twelve years, it hosts the famous, Kumbh Mela. Here is the list of some of most popular tourist destinations in and around Haridwar.
Har ki Pauri: It is one of the most popular ghats in Haridwar. This sacred ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya in the memory of his brother Bhartrihari. It is believed that Bhartihari eventually came to Haridwar to meditate by the banks of the holy Ganga. When he died, his brother constructed the Ghat in his name which later came to be known as Har ki Pauri.
This sacred bathing Ghat is also known as Brahmakund. The golden reflection of floral diyas in the river Ganges is the most enchanting sight in the twilight during the Ganga aarti ceremony at the ghat.
Chandi Devi Temple: Legend has it that Chanda-Munda, the army chief of the local demon king, Shumbha-Nishumbha, was killed by Goddess Chandi here after which the place got the name Chandi Devi. This temple, situated on top of the Neel Parvat on the other bank of river Ganges was constructed in AD 1929 by Suchat Singh, the then King of Kashmir. The temple is a 3-km trek from Chandi Ghat and it is believed that the Adi Shankaracharya established the main statue in eighth century AD. The Chandi Devi Temple is now also accessible by a ropeway, which starts near the Gauri Shankar Temple.
Mansa Devi Temple: This temple a top the Bilwa Parvat is dedicated to Goddess Mansa Devi. One can have a panoramic view of Haridwar, the Ganges, and the countryside from this place.
Vaishno Devi Temple: This temple is a newly constructed and a true replica of the original Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu & Kashmir.
Bharat Mata Temple: This is one of the important temples of Haridwar. It has eight stories in which the images of cities, heroes and great men are installed.
Maya Devi Temple: It is an ancient temple of Maya Devi the Adhishtkatri deity of Haridwar, known as one of the Siddhapeethas. It is believed that the heart and navel of goddess Sati had fallen at this ancient saktipeeth, located to the east of Har-ki-Pauri.
Places around Haridwar
Rishikesh: Around 28 km off Haridwar, Rishikesh is one of the most sacred cities in India, next only to Haridwar. Nestled amidst the beautiful Himalayas and piously intercepted by the mystic Ganges, this is place where the Ganges comes down to the plains from the hills. This holy city also serves as the centre of several ancient Hindu temples and many other sacred shrines. Rishikesh is also closely associated with the Ramayana. The city is famous world over as an important center for learning and research in yoga and meditation. The International Yoga Festival which attracts participation from all across the world is held here annually for one week in the month of February (2nd to 7th) on the banks of the serene Ganga. Some of the places in Rishikesh worth visiting are Bharat Temple, Neelkanth Mahadev, Laxman Temple, Laxman Jhula, Ram Jhula and Swarga-Ashram. The rope-bridge `Lakshman Jhoola stands majestically here, as a landmark. This is where Lord Rama`s brother Lakshman is said to have crossed the river on a jute rope. The old Lakshman temple is situated on the western bank.
The Daksh Mahadev Temple: It is an ancient shrine situated to the south of Kankhal town. This temple was constructed by Queen Dhankaur in AD 1810. Kankhal has several other temples and ashrams too.
The Sapt Rishi Ashram: It is situated along the Haridwar-Rishikesh road. According to Hindu Mythology, Sapt Rishi Ashram is regarded as the place where the seven great sages, or Sapt-Rishis, Kashyap, Vashisht, Atri, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gautam meditated. It is said that the Ganges split herself into seven streams, here only, so that the sages would not be disturbed by her flow. Thus, this place is also known as the Sapt Sarovar or Saptrishi Kund. The streams reunite further and flow as a beautiful channel called Neel Dhara while entering Haridwar.
The Chila Wildlife Sanctuary: This wildlife sanctuary is the part of Rajaji National Park and covers an area of around 240 sq. km. This is a popular destination for all the nature and adventure lovers. The immaculate scenic beauty and varied biodiversity of this park has been a major attraction for wildlife lovers from all over the world, since its inception. It has 23 species of mammals and 315 fauna species. One can catch glimpses of elephants, tigers, leopards, jungle cats, Himalayan yellow throated martens, sambers, chitals, barking dears, wild boars, langurs, ghurals, sloth bears, king cobras, woodpeckers, etc.
The Triveni Ghat: This is yet another interesting place to be at dawn, when people make offerings of milk to the river and feed the fish. After sunset, priests set off floating lamps on the water during the Aarti ceremony.
The Neelkanth Mahadev Temple: This temple is associated with Lord Shiva. It is situated at a height of 1700 meters. It is a 4-hour walk from Rishikesh and a not-to-be-missed destination away from the madding crowd.
Dehra Dun: The capital city of Uttarakhand is a major tourist destination mainly due to its scenic grandeur and beautiful surroundings. The city is located in the Shivalik hills and merely 54 km from Haridwar. The dense forestry and picturesque beauty of the city captivates the tourists flocking to Dehradun. The places worth visiting in Dehradun are Sahastradhara, Tapkeshawar Temple, Chandrabani, Tibetan Temple, Robber`s Cave, Santala Devi Temple, Lachhiwala, Tapowan, Asan Barrage Water Sports Resort, Rajaji National Park, Dakpathar and Malsi Deer Park.
Rajaji National Park: Rajaji National Park was established in 1983 amidst the bio diverse area of the Shivalik Hill range on the Himalayan foothills. The national park’s name has been dedicated to C. Rajagopalachari, fondly known as Raja Ji.
Piran Kalier: Located approximately 23 km towards the south of Haridwar, on the outskirts of Roorkee town, Piran Kalier is the Dargah of Hazrat Makhdum Allauddin Ali Ahmed `Sabir`. This place is famous for its sacred aura and mystical powers. It is visited with due regard by Hindus and Muslims and a living example of unity between the two communities. During the Rabee-ul month of the Islamic calendar, Urs, a colorful festival, is celebrated here from the first day of sighting the moon to the sixteenth day.
Deoprayag: Approximately 95 km from Haridwar, Deoprayag is the confluence point of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers, through the vast network of tributaries, to form Ganges. It is only from Deoprayag that the sacred river starts being called Ganga. At a height of 2700 feet above sea level, it is a sacred pilgrimage centre and is considered the second most divine confluence centre in India, next only to Prayag. One of the famous temples here is the Raghunath Temple, which is considered as one of the 108 most important temples in India.
Kanva Rishi Ashram: Another popular outing from Haridwar is the Kanva Rishi Ashram, located at a distance of approximately 42 km. It is built on the banks of river Malini, on the way to Kotdwar. The path to this ashram is along a dense forest, providing an exciting experience for the adventure-lovers. This is a serene place, in the lap of nature, away from the hush-bush of cities.
Compiled by Ritesh/Sarjana