Haridwar, literally means ‘The gateway to the Gods’. It’s the place where the river Ganga descends to the plain. A Gateway to the four pilgrimage of Uttarakhand, Haridwar is variously mentioned as Mayapuri, Gangadwar, Mokhsadwar in the ancient Hindu scriptures and epics. A major Shaktipeeth from time immemorial, the place is believed to have both sanctified by the powerful trinity of Hindu mythology – Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. This is why the place has been a ever-refreshing mystic venue for the purification of the mind, body and soul. The Kumbha Mela, happening once every 12 years and the Ardha Kumbha Mela (Coming once every six years) are big draws.
It also said that Haridwar has been sanctified by the presence of three Gods-Bhrama, Vishnu, Mahesh. Lord Vishnu is said to have left his footprint on a stone that is set in the upper wall of Har-Ki-Pauri where the Holy Ganga torches it all the time.
Ganga Aarti :
Haridwar, is one of the most religious town in Uttarakhand and it is this very holy town that hosts the famous ‘Maha Aarti’, every evening. The most pious ghats of Ganges in Uttarakhand is Harki Pauri, an important bathing ghat. This also the venue of the famous Kumbh Mela, that is held once in twelve years. During this festival an estimated 45 million people converge here to bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges as part of a purification ritual.
This scared ghat was constructed in the 1st century BC and has webs of legends associated with it. The most important is the one that claims that a person who takes dips here, is freed of all his previous life and gets moksha (Nirvana). The doted temples, shops hawking religious blings and the various clay pots floating on the rivers completes the spiritual picture of Haridwar.
The Colophon of Haridwar – Maha Aarti :
To see the most breathtaking sight in Haridawar, come to the Harki pauri ghat in the evening, when the daily ritual of ‘Maha Aarti’ takes place. When the sun goes down, the most awaited activity of the evening Aart takes places on the ghat. Ganges is decorated as a newly wedded bride and glows with fluorescence of the thousands and millions of diyas and marigold petals. The sir seems to be filled with the rhythmic chants of the mantras and incense. Thousands of devotees sway in tempo and the religious fervency depicted is unimaginable. This activity goes son for six minutes after which the pilgrims scramble madly for the ‘prasad’ (holy offering).
Places to Visit in Haridwar :
Har Ki Pauri : Also known as Har ki Pairi, it is the centre of attraction in the pilgrimage town of Haridwar. Devotees gather here to take a holy dip in the Ganges and to offer prayers. The celebration Ganga Aarti is a sight to behold here for tourists. The aarti ceremony takes place here every evening at 7 pm. As the river Ganga is worshipped, hundreds of diyas are set afloat along the river. According to Hindu mythology, Har ki Pairiis the place where a drop of the nectar fell from the moiling oceans, when the world came into existence.
Mansa Devi :
One of the most visited temples in Haridwar, Mansa Devi Mandir occupies a place on top of the Shivalik hills. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mansa Devi, believed to fulfill the wishes of those who visit here. It is a tradition with the devotees to tie sacred threads around the tree that stands within the premises of the Mansa Devi temple. From the temple, one can have heart stirring views of the Haridwar town. Along with Chandi Devi temple and the Maya Devi temple, it completes the Siddhapeeth Triangle.
Chandi Devi :
The temple stands in dedication to Goddess Chandi. One of the most ancient in the country, the temple can be reached either by a ropeway ride or by undertaking a steep climb, that takes up around 45 minutes. The rituals at the temple begin as early as 4 am in the morning. Visitors are required to strictly follow the dress code before entering the premises of the Chandi Devi temple.
Daksha Mahadev Temple :
The temple is situated towards the south of the Kankhal town. Built by Queen Dhankaur in AD 1810, the Daksha Mahadev Temple is the site where Daksha performed a yagna (a Hindu ritual to invoke gods and seek their blessings). In the Hindu mythology, Daksha Prajapati is the father of Sati, the spouse of Lord Shiva. The temple is just a few minutes drive from the railway station.
Maya Devi :
Dedicated to goddess Maya Devi, the temple is a major attraction for all visitors to Haridwar. The temple is counted as one of the shaktipithas in India. According to the Hindu mythology, it is the place where the heart and navel of goddess Sati fell down, while Lord Shiva was carrying her burnt body. Numerous festivals are held at the Maya Devi temple in keeping with the customs and traditions.
Parad Shivling :
The mythological site is located in the historical town of Kankhal, at 6 km from the town of Haridwar. The Parad Shivling remains enshrined inside the premises of the Harihar Ashram in Kankhal. Weighing 150 kg, the shivling is major pilgrimage site for Shaivites. Devotees worship the shivling to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.