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Haridwar

Haridwar or Hardwar?

haridwar

Image courtesy of Worldwide Hindu Temples ॐ

Haridwar is a gateway to the Indian Himalayas and roads that are not for the feint hearted.  Hari means "Lord Vishnu" Dwara means "gate" or "gateway" so Haridwar stands for "the Gateway to the Char Dham* of Lord Vishnu" which is at Badrinath, a 12 hour drive away.

Lord Vishnu in Sanatana Dharma is seen as the sustainer of life and every year tens of thousands of pilgrims flock through Haridwar en-route to Badrinath.

The other spelling is Hardwar which in Sanskrit, Hara means "Lord Shiva" so Hardwar stands for "Gateway to the Char Dham "Lord Shiva" which is Mount Kailash in Tibet.

For many travellers, Haridwar is a stop en-route to Rishikesh, Srinagar, Nanda Devi National Park and Badrinath or Dehradun and Shimla. But Haridwar has been a typical place to start a pilgrim's journey in order to reach Mount Kailash, the eternal abode of Lord Shiva although today there are more direct routes.  Other pilgrimage places are Kedarnath and Gaumukh which is considered as the source of River Ganga.

ArdhKumbh 2016, Haridwar (Video)

According to scriptures, the origin of the festival can be found in the ancient legend of samudra manthan. The legend tells of a battle between the Devas and Asuras for amrita, the drink of immortality. During samudra manthan, or churning of the ocean, amrita was produced and placed in a kumbha (pot). To prevent the asuras (malevolent beings) from seizing the amrita, a divine carrier flew away with the pot. In one version of the legend, the carrier of the kumbha is the divine physician Dhanavantari, who stops at four places (Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nashik and Ujjain) where the Kumbh Mela is celebrated.

While many westerners pass through Haridwar on spiritual journeys to the more popular Risikesh, Haridwar hosts it own religious festivals including Ramanavami in March-April, Buddha Poornima in May, Kanwar Mela in July with as many as three million attending, Karthika Poornima in November and Diwali the festival of lights in October.

With a populations of +175,000 and its own university, Haridwar has many temples including Sureshwari Devi and Kamraj-ki-Kali, and the quiet Ma Anandamayee Ashram which is a good place for contemplation as is Swami Vivekanand Park. But many find more interest in the Moti Bazaar or Pentagon Mall. Then there are many walks and mountain treks, camping and river activities available.

ptgliAnother Haridwar attraction is Patanjali Yogpeeth.
One of the largest yoga institutes in India and named after the guru Patanjali, the institute is a flagship project of a man devoted to Indian traditions and Indian made; Baba Ramdev. It includes a Yoga University, an Ayurvedic hospital, a 25.000 sqm yoga hall, thousand apartments for guests, conference halls, cafeterias, and several apartment blocks for permanent residents. It's located on the Haridwar-Delhi highway at Kankhal about 17kms south of Haridwar city.

Haridwar can be visited anytime of the year and it's very well connected via Road - Rail & Air.  Note the region is prone to flooding in June-July.

*Char Dhams are special places devoted to particular deities.

Calendar of Haridwar Spiritual Festivals

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