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Haridwar - The Gateway to Heaven

(By-S. Sen)

Haridwar is located in the north Indian state of Uttaranchal at a distance of 214 km from Delhi. Hardwar or Haridwar, is one of the holiest places for Hindus in India. It is a city of great religious significance and large numbers of pilgrims come here everyday. It is the gateway to Sri Kedarnath and Shri Badrinath the holy Shrines of Har and Hari. Many years ago it was called Kapilsthan after the great sage Kapil, who lived and meditated here, for a period. It also had the name of Mayapuri. Legend has it that the Yakshas and the Devas had the seen Lord Vishnu here. Every twelve years the Kumbh mela and after six years the Ardh Kumbh mela are held when lacs of pilgrims from all over India through the ghats of the Ganga. Hardwar is the home of ashrams and Dharamshalas, which have been established by Sadhus (holy men) and religious institutions. Here at Hardwar, the mighty Ganga hurries down from the hills to the luxuriant ridges of the Himalayas. Each evening hundreds of devotees attend the grand Arti performed at Har-ki-Pauri. This ghat is named after the charan or footprints of Hari impressed on a stone set into the upper wall of the Ghat. The Temples of the Ganga, Shankaracharya, Navegraha and the Baraha Khamba are near Har-ki-Pauri. Other temples with legendary importance, are Shrawan Nath, Maya Devi. 
PLACES WORTH VISITING 
BRAHM KUND- The name of the kund at Har ki Pairi is Brahma Kund. This is the place where the celestial waters are said to flow and religious minded Hindus gather from all parts of India and abroad to have a dip in it, to free them from the bondage of the world. 
SHARVAN NATH GHAT & GAUGHAT- Are situated to the south of Har-ki-Pairi adjoining to each other.Triveni ghat is an interesting place to be at dawn, when people make offerings of milk to the river and feed the fish. After sunset, priests set floating lamps on the water during the Aarti ceremony
BHIM GODA TANK - At a distance of about 1 Km. from Har-ki-Pairi the sacred tank is situated with the holy waters. 
SAPTA SAROVER 4 Km. towards the north from Har-ki-Pairi, the Holy Ganga is bifurcated in 7 streams nearby the Ashrams is recently made and dedicated to the 7 Rishis of Hindu mythology. 
MANSA DEVI & CHANDI DEVI The temple of Goddess Mansa Devi is situated at the top of Bilwa Parwat about 3.5 Km from the city center. Here one statue of the Goddess has three heads and five arms while the other statue has eight arms. The temples are situated at the top of the hills towering both sides of the city.
Temple of Chandi Devi is situated on a high hill on the opposite bank of river Ganga about 5 Km from city. Ropeway is available for Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi to take tourists to go to the top of the hills.

KANKHAL 5 Km. From Har-ki-Pairi, the town of Kankhal is situated. The place was once the capital of King Daksh the father of Parvati, who burned her in the sacred fires of the yagya of King Daksh. This is very old place. The temple of Daksheswar Mahadeva is the Place of importance, along with Sati Ghat. The place has always been mentioned in old histories and Purans.  DAKSHESWARA MAHADEVA - The old temple dedicated to lord Shiva is situated on the banks of the Ganges, where the sacred waters of the river seem to touch the feet of the lord. Devotees and pilgrims gather here in the month of Shrawan and on Shiva-Ratri festivals, to sprinkle Gangajal on Shiva Linga enshrined in the temple.
The Kanva Rishi Ashram is situated around 42 km from Haridwar. The ashram is on the banks of the Malini River along the forest road to Kotdwar.
The Chila Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the Rajaji National Park, covers an area of around 240 sq. km. It has 23 species of mammals and 315 fauna species. Lucky tourists 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. Fishing in the river there is allowed with permits only.
Rishikesh is world famous for Yoga schools, Ashrams and is also renowned for river rafting and adventure tourism. It is situated about 30 Km from Haridwar 
BEST TIME TO VISIT

Haridwar is situated at a height of almost 300 meters above sea level and the temperature usually hovers around 35-40C during summers and can dip to 6-10 C in winters. The best season to visit Haridwar is between October and March 

Languages :  Hindi, Garhwali and English
HOW TO REACH

BY RAIL - Haridwar is well connected by trains to almost all the major cities in India. Several trains come to Haridwar every day. These two are best trains between Haridwar and DelhiMorning Train :
Every Day 
Shatabdi Express - Daily departure New Delhi: 0710 A.M and Arrival Haridwar 1120 A.M. Airconditioned & Tea/ Coffee & Breakfast on Board included in the ticket.
Haridwar to Delhi Departure Haridwar 0610 PM Arrival New Delhi: 10:30 P.MEvening Train: 

Jan Shatabdi Express: Everyday except Sundays
BY ROAD - The National Highway no.45 crosses the city, so it is connected to other cities of the state as well as those in the other states too. 

BY AIR - The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant in Dehradun, but connections are not good. It is preferable to use the roads or rail to Delhi and then take flights to the destination of ones choice.
 
WHERE TO STAY- There are many places to stay in Haridwar. Most of the hotels and resorts are in the middle range or budget categories. Many of the ashrams and dharmshalas also provide simple and cheap accommodation. The numerous resorts dotting the banks of the Ganges are also good options.