Haridwar is situated at an altitude of 294 m and one of the seven holy cities of Hindus. The name Haridwar means the Dwar of Hari or the Door of Lord Vishnu. In Haridwar, the Vishnu’s footprint are placed on the banks of the holy river giving it its sanctity. Haridwar is situated at the base of the Shiwalik hills and on the west banks of the river Ganga. The River Ganga passes through its last gorge and begins a 2,000 km journey across the plains of UP, Bihar and W Bengal to the Bay of Bengal. The River Ganga irrigates its vast expanses of land with the help of canals and wells. Haridwar is a very old town that belongs to 1400 AD and was mentioned by the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang. The wealth of Haridwar attracted the attention of Timur who sacked it in 1399 during his bloodthirsty foray into North India. Various episodes from the Mahabharata were set here.
Haridwar receives thousands of pilgrims every year and the numbers of pilgrims increases to almost 100,000 when the birth of the river (Dikhanti) is celebrated in spring. The Kumbha Mela is also held here in the month of April. During the Kumbha Mela, the thousands of devotees gather at the confined area near Har-ki-Pauri to bathe in the waters.
The bazaar is interesting, colourful, invariably crowded and clean and tidy. There are stalls with piles of coloured powder piled high in carefully made cones, stalls selling saris, jewellery, brass and aluminium posts, sweets and snacks.
Tourist Attractions in Haridwar
Har-ki-Pauri is the place where Lord Vishnu is believed to have left his footprints. Some part of the Ganga has been diverted here and this later becomes the canal. Bathing here is believed to cleanse all sins. There is a modern clocktower and some temples which surround the steps. Further down along the waterfront are more bathing ghats. There are five bridges across the river and it is pleasant to go over the other side, which is much quieter.
Mansa Devi Temple
The Mansa Devi Temple is worth visiting for the view of the city of Haridwar. This temple is set on the southernmost hill of the Siwaliks and can be reached by chairlift.
Kankhal is situated about 3 km from Haridwar. Kankhal is the place where the Sati, the Lord Shiva's wife is believed to have burnt herself to death because her father Daksha’s failed to invite Siva to a yagna. Sati, in anger, burnt herself to death. When Siva learned that Sati had killed herself, he took up her body and danced in grief, troubling the world with his dance and his tears until the gods cut the corpse into pieces. When the yoni fell, Siva took the form of a linga, and peace was re-established in the universe. There is the temple of Daksehwara in the Kankhal.
Rishikesh means the place of sages. Rishikesh is situated about 25 kms. from Haridwar. Rishikesh is situated around the Ganga river as it swiftly runs through the last hills of the Himalaya. Today, there are various ashrams in Rishikesh. The Maharishi Yogi also had his ashram here and was fortunate to capture the imagination and attention of the Beatles in the early sixties. Rishikesh is also the base for travel to the hill regions of Garhwal and the four holy shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri and also the Sikh Shrine at Hemkund Sahib. The Lakshman Temple and Lakshman Jhula are the main tourist attractions in Rishikesh. The Lakshman Jhula is a suspension bridge that is used to cross the river Ganga. Bharat Temple, Sri Venkateshwara Temple and Muni-ki-Reti are the other places of tourist interest in Rishikesh.
24 Kms. from Haridwar. Located in the laps of lower Himalayas, and is surrounded by scenic beauty of the hills on three sides with Holy Ganga flowing through it. The whole place is considered to be sacred as it is believed that meditation at this place leads to attainment of salvation. There are many temples-some ancient, some new along the river Ganges. Rishikesh is important not only as pilgrimage centre closely associated with the Ramayana, but also as home for many important centers of Hindu religious thought and spirituality, and as a very great Yoga Centre. There are a great many ashrams and Yoga institutes here. Rishikesh is also the gateway and the start-off point for journeys to important religious places like Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri