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Hotel Raj Mandir Haridwar, Uttarakhand
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Considered one of the most sacred cities in India, & Holy Place, Haridwar is situated at the base of the Shivalik ranges of the Himalayas. Every year trillions of people flock here to pay their respect, take a dip in the Ganges, do pooja, and perform the last rites of their loved ones. Come June and July (the month of Shravan), Haridwar bustles with millions of Lord Shiva devotees, known as Kanwarias, who come from far and wide to attend Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering in the world. It’s a photographers’ delight as you can spot some uncommon sights then.
Haridwar (हरिद्वार), also spelled Hardwar, is a city in the state of Uttarakhand. Haridwar, literally Gateway to God, is one of the Hindu holy places in India and a center of Hindu religion and mysticism for centuries. Located on the banks of River Ganges (Ganga), at the point where the Ganges descends from the hills to the North Indian plains, Haridwar attracts a large number of Hindu pilgrims from all over the world.
Haridwar is the site of many religious festivals. Most notably, once every twelve years it is the venue for the Kumbh Mela, humanity’s largest festival, which drew a record. (The festival rotates between Haridwar and Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik.) The Ardh Mela, or “half mela”, is held every six years. Both will be held in Haridwar in 2021. Other yearly festivals include:
See the Haridwar city website for a complete listing. While the festivals are colorful and fascinating, they also strain the town’s limited infrastructure to the breaking point and sometimes beyond. Book rooms and tickets well in advance, and avoid travel by road as the traffic jams can be horrendous.
Get in Haridwar is about 200 km from Delhi, the capital of India, and is well connected by road and rail network from all parts of India. It is better to avoid traveling to Haridwar during the Hindu month of Sawan (around July) since there is a heavy crowd and all-important roads are blocked and most of the hotels/busses/trains are crowded.
One of the most popular places in Haridwar, Har Ki Pauri is a ghat, which was built by King Vikramaditya. It is believed that Vikramaditya ordered for this ghat to be constructed in the memory of his brother Bharthari. The most famed spot here is the Brahmakund, which is thronged by devotees from all over the country.
Another major attraction of Har Ki Pauri is the evening Aarti that is organized each evening with great zeal. It is, in fact, one of those events in Haridwar that one should not miss out on. After the Aarti, devotees float Diyas in the River Ganga, which looks stunning in the evening light.
There are numerous temples including the Kalika Temple near the river Ganga. Pavan Dham is a beautiful temple with glass interiors just 3 km away from Har-Ki-Pauri, en route to Rishikesh. It is dedicated to the monkey-faced Hindu god Hanuman
Mansa Devi Temple is one of the most revered temples of Goddess Mansa Devi, located at Bilwa Parvat near Haridwar. This temple is a holy place to worship Goddess Mansa, who is believed to be a form of Shakti, emerged from the mind of great Sage Kashyap. Mansa Devi temple is a famous Siddhpeeth and offers panoramic views of Haridwar city.
Mansa Devi completes the trio of Siddhpeeth in Haridwar with Chandi Devi and Maya Devi. The inner shrine of the Mansa Devi temple has two idols that are worship by the devotees. Located facing Chandi Devi temple in Neel Parvat, Mansa Devi temple has a 3 km pedestrian path from Haridwar.
About 4 kilometers up the Neel hill from Haridwar is the Chandi Devi temple. The climb is much harder than the one to Mansa Devi temple, and it is advisable to take the cable car. The ride up in the cable car offers a spectacular view of the valley. If you are walking up, be careful about the monkeys. Though they don’t hurt you, they can take you unawares and even get a bit cheeky and snatch away your bags.
About 3 km away from Haridwar, the temple complex is popular on the tourist itinerary. This is one of the four sacred places around Haridwar. It was here that Goddess Sati ( Shiva’s consort) burned herself in the sacrificial fire after being insulted by her father. And it was here that Lord Shiva danced off his sorrow and rage. There are diverse famous temples here including Bir Bhadreshwar Temple, Daksha Mahadev Temple, and Sati Kund.
Dedicated to Guru Gorakhnath on the main road leading to Har-ki-Pauri, this imposing temple is one of the most popular in Haridwar.
Bharat Mata Temple is a multistoried temple, which stands out among the other temples in Haridwar. What makes it special is that each floor is dedicated to a different deity. You would be surprised to see elevators moving up and down the seven stories in this temple!