Haridwar (Pron:ˈhʌrɪˌdwɑ:) About this sound pronunciation (help·info) also spelled Hardwar is an ancient city and municipality in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, India. The River Ganga, after flowing for 253 kilometres (157 mi) from its source at Gaumukh at the edge of the Gangotri Glacier, enters the Indo-Gangetic Plains of North India for the first time at Haridwar, which gave the city its ancient name, Gangadwára. Haridwar is regarded as one of the seven holiest places (Sapta Puri) to Hindus. According to the Samudra manthan, Haridwar along with Ujjain, Nashik and Prayag (Allahabad) is one of four sites 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, which is celebrated every 12 years in Haridwar. During the Haridwar Kumbh 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. It is also the primary center of the Kanwar pilgrimage, in which millions of participants gather sacred water from the Ganga and carry it across hundreds of miles to dispense as offerings in Śiva shrines. Haridwar is the headquarters and the largest city of the district. Today, the city is developing beyond its religious importance, with the fast developing industrial estate of State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand (SIDCUL), and the close by township of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited as well as its affiliated ancillaries.
A heaven for nature significant others, Haridwar presents a kaleidoscope of Indian culture and development. In the sacred writings it has been differently specified as Kapilsthan, Gangadwar and Mayapuri. It is additionally a passage indicate the Char Dham (the four principle focuses of journey in Uttarakhand viz, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri), subsequently, Shaivaites (adherents of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavites (devotees of Lord Vishnu) call this place Hardwar and Haridwar individually, relating to Har being Shiv and Hari being Vishnu.
It has been proved by archaeological findings that terracotta culture had an existence in Haridwar during 1700 B.C. and 1800 B.C. Haridwar has been in people’s mind from the period of Buddha to the British arrival and still in the 21st century. Haridwar was ruled by Maurya Empire from 322 BCE to 185 BCE and later it came under the rule of Kushan Empire according to historical evidences. Well-known Chinese traveler Huan Tsang visited India in 629 AD. He has mentioned Haridwar in his travel journal. At that time Haridwar was part of the kingdom of the King Harshvardhan (590 to 647). The city was also invaded by Timur Lang (1336–1405), a Turkish King on January 13, 1399. First Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak (1469–1539) bathed at ‘Kushwan Ghat’ on Baisakhi Day. Later in the 16th century Haridwar came under reign of Mughals and emperors like Akbar and Jehangir stamped their dominated here. According to Ain-e-Akbari Mughal Emperor, Akbar drank water from the Ganges river collected from Haridwar, which he called ‘the water of immortality’.
Thomas Coryat, an English traveler visited Haridwar during the reign of Jehangir. In 18th centaury Haridwar was a port city and it was widely used by ships of East India Company. One of the two major dams on the river Ganges is the Bhimgoda Dam. It is situated in Haridwar. Dam was opened in 1854. Haridwar Municipality’ was constituted in 1868 including Kankhal and Mayapur. Haridwar was connected with railways by Laksar Railway Station in 1886. In 1901, Haridwar has population of 25,597 and Haridwar was a part of the Roorkee tehsil, in Saharanpur district of the United Province. Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya was established in 1902. In 1946 Haridwar was merged in Uttar Pradesh State.
Haridwar Legends : Haridwar is mentioned in various ancient Indian scriptures (Purans, Upanishads and Mahabharata) as a Mayapur, Kapilsthan, Mokshdwar or Gangadwar. In Mahabharata great sage Dhaumya mentioned Haridwar (Gangadwar) as a major pilgrimage town to Yudhisthira. The legendary King Bhagirath, great grandson of the King Sagar of Suryavanshi clan (an ancestor of Lord Rama), is said that he brought the river Ganga down from heaven, through his long penance of many years, for the salvation of the souls of his 60,000 ancestors from the curse of the sage Kapila. The penance was answered and the river Ganges trickled out from Lord Shiva’s locks and its ample holy waters rejuvenated the 60,000 sons of King Sagara. Sage Kapila lived here in his ashram so this place was also known as Kapilsthan. The tradition which was established by King Bhagirath is now followed by thousands of Hindu devotees, who bring the ashes of their departed family members, in hope of their salvation by the water of river Ganges. Pandits (Priests) of the Haridwar have been known to keep genealogy records of most of the Hindu population. Known as vahis, these records are updated on each visit to the city, and are a repository of vast family trees of family in North India. It is believed that nectar (Amrit) which was one of the fourteen valuable ornaments that came out from the sea churning (Samundra Manthan) was sprinkled at 12 places in the entire universe. Out of that 12 places 08 places are in heaven and only 04 places on earth. Har-Ki-Pauri in Haridwar was one of the four places where Amrit was sprinkled on earthr. As a result, every 12 years Khumbh Mela comes to Haridwar and draws more than half a million pilgrims. The Ardha Kumbha Mela comes once in every six years. It is also said that Haridwar has been blessed by the attendance of all three major Gods; Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Lord Vishnu is said to have left his footprint on the stone that is set in the upper wall of Har-Ki-Pauri, where the Holy Ganges touches it. It is believed to have been the place where Sati (Lord Shiva’s first wife) consigned herself in the Yagna (sacrificial fire). The terrible Tandava Nrutya (dance of destruction) performed by Lord Shiva in sorrow led to Lord Vishnu dismembering Sati’s body, with the different parts scattering across India. Pilgrims believe that they can go to heaven by getting their salvation after a holy dip in the river Ganges at Haridwar.
Local Food and Cuisine of Haridwar:
Haridwar’s platter is dominated by vegetarian North Indian food, you will not run out of choices to flatter your appetite with South-Indian, Bengali, Chinese, Continental food as well as an elaborate and delicious assortment of delicacies, forming a staple meal, ‘Thali’, which is popular all over.
Other than the mouthwatering Chole Bhature, delicious Dosas and lip-smacking Indian Chinese food that the town offers, what you just cannot miss is the rich, colorful street food, which has some of the best preparations of the city. It is from the streets, that Haridwar gets its most popular and delicious items that almost define the food here. Don’t miss the popular Aloo Puri, Kachori, Lassi, Parathas and a huge variety of traditional sweets.
Best Time to Visit Haridwar : –
If you are a pilgrim, the best time to visit would be during the Kanwar Mela in July and Diwali in October. Alternately, you can also go during festivals of Ramnavami and Buddha Purnima from March to May. If you are a visitor, the best time for you would be October to February.
Summer :- (March – June) During summer the days are hot but the nights are cool. Also, during the month of June, there is a festival in Haridwar known as Saavan. Thousands of devotees come here to attend that festival and it results in long jams. So, if you want to attend that festival it is advised to reach early. The temperature ranges 35 – 45 degrees Celcius.
Monsoon :- (July – September) Haridwar receives excessive rainfall during the monsoon seasons, resulting in the shutting down of all the activities. August receives the highest amount of rainfall.
Winter :- (October – February) Haridwar can be visited any time of the year but during winters the water gets really cold and taking a dip can be chilly. The temperatures can be expected to fall down to 5 degrees Celcius. If you are planning to visit Haridwar during winters, make sure to carry heavy woolens with you.
How to reach Haridwar :-
Haridwar is well connected by roadways and rail networks from all parts of India. Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport is the closest airport at about 40 km away. Another close airport is in Delhi at 200 km from Haridwar.
Haridwar by Flight : Haridwar has no airport. The nearest airport is in Dehradun. It is Jolly Grant Airport. Taxis and buses are easily available from there till Haridwar. Nearest Airport: Dehradun – 43 kms from Haridwar
Haridwar by Road : Haridwar can easily be reached via roads. The roads are well connected to every major city in India. Taxi. buses and private vehicles can be used to reach here.
Haridwar by Train : Haridwar has a well-connected railway system. The trains are available to many cities. From the railway station, many taxis are available to take you to any place you desire.