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Tourist Places To Visit In Haridwar
As one of the oldest living cities of India, Haridwar or the Gateway of the Gods finds a mention in the ancient Hindu scriptures. Regarded as one of the seven holiest places of India, Haridwar is the gateway to the Char Dham Yatra or the tour of the four main centres of pilgrimage in Uttarakhand, namely, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. It is also the place where the Ganges descends from the mountains and starts its 2000 km long journey across the plains. From Saptrishi ashram to Har ki Pauri, Chandi Devi to Mansa Devi to the Neel Dhara Pakshi Vihar, here are some of the best tourist places to visit in Haridwar.
Har Ki Pauri
Haridwar has several bathing ghats and the most sacred among them is Har Ki Pauri, constructed by King Vikramaditya. Taking a dip in the holy waters here is believed to help achieve salvation of ancestors. The evening prayer or Aarti that is performed at dusk on the banks of River Ganges is a hair-raising experience. Hundreds of diyas or lamps decorated with flowers are floated in the water creating a spectacle which becomes etched in the memory of any visitor.
Chandi Devi Temple
Located atop ‘Neel Parvat’ on the eastern bank of River Ganges is a temple dedicated to Goddess Chandi. It is believed that the main statue here was established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century. A 3 kilometer trek from Chandighat will take you to the temple which can also be reached by rope way.
The temple opens at 6.00am and closes at 8.00pm. The morning prayer or aarti is offered at 5.30am. Non vegetarian food, alcoholic drinks and leather goods are prohibited inside the temple.
Mansa Devi Temple
Situated on top of Bilwa Parvat is the temple of Goddess Mansa Devi. The term Mansa means wish and it is believed that the Goddess fulfils the wishes of her sincere devotees. It is considered to be a Siddha Peetha or place of worship where wishes get fulfilled. Mansa Devi Temple can be reached by cable cars, offering a brilliant view of the city, River Ganges and the plains of Haridwar.
The temple remains open from 8.00am to 5.00pm. It is closed during lunch from 12.00pm to 2.00pm.
Maya Devi Temple
Dedicated to Goddess Maya, it is believed that the navel and heart of Goddess Sati fell at the site where the temple stands today. It is sometimes also referred to as Shakti Peetha. Goddess Maya is a three headed and four armed presiding deity of Haridwar. Like Mansa Devi temple, this too is considered a Siddha Peetha.
Neel Dhara Pakshi Vihar
This is a bird sanctuary built on the main Ganges River at the Bhimgoda barrage. A home to varied species of birds, it is visited by a considerable number of migratory birds during the winter season.
Daksheswara Mahadeva Temple
According to legend, King Daksha, the father of Lord Shiva’s first wife Sati, performed a Yagna at this site and did not invite Shiva. When Shiva arrived uninvited he was further insulted by his father-in-law. Infuriated, Sati leapt into the yagna kund and immolated herself. Angered by the turn of events, Shiva sent his demi-God Virabhadra who killed Daksha. Later life was restored to him and he was given the head of a goat. The temple was built in honour of this legend. You can also visit the Sati Kund where Sati immolated herself.
Bharat Mata Temple
This temple is dedicated to Bharat Mata or Mother India. It is a national personification of India as mother Goddess. The underlying emotion is that it is not only the patriotic but also the religious duty of all Indians to protect and honour the nation. The eight storey temple was founded by Swami Satyamitranand Giri.
Maha Kumbh Mela
Haridwar is one of the four places after Ujjain, Nasik and Allahabad where the Kumbh Mela is hosted once in every 12 years. The Maha Kumbh Mela is the largest festival in the world. Millions of devotees, tourists and pilgrims assemble here to offer prayers and perform ritualistic bathing on the banks of River Ganges.
Sapta Rishi Ashram
An ancient and picturesque place in Haridwar, it is the place where seven great sages or Rishis are believed to have meditated, namely, Kashyapa, Vashisht, Atri, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gautam.
Rajaji National Park
Rajaji National Park is a special Tiger Reserve in the Shivalik ranges in the three districts of Uttarakhand; namely Dehradun, Pauri Garhwal and Haridwar. Rajaji boasts of 12 tigers, around 500 elephants, 400 species of birds and more than 250 panthers. You will also be able to spot wild boars, spotted deer, sloths and bears. There are a few safaris and bird watching tours arranged in the park. Rajaji National Park is a much welcomed getaway for visitors who may tire too easily of Haridwar's religious aura.
Pawan Dham, an ancient temple, is one of the oldest in the country. Its delicately put together glasswork is the highlight of its architecture. The idols worshipped inside Pawan Dham are adorned with rich precious gemstones and jewellery. When sunlight hits the idols and gilded walls of this temple, Pawan Dham looks lit from inside. This beauty in daylight is just unparalleled. You can visit it any time between 6 am and 8 pm on Sapt Sarovar Road.
Shanti Kunj is a wellness centre at Haridwar that also caters to spiritual and yogic awakening. All World Gayatri Power is also headquartered here, bringing in pilgrims from all over the world. This is an ashram or school where perpetual happiness is given precedence over anything else. Inspired by the Rishis and maharishis of sanatan tradition, Shanti Kunj offers process and lifestyles that can help one achieve peace as well as contentment in life. You can go for their training camp or workshops. Or if you just want a tour, then visit their Yagya shala, Akhand Deep, Gayatri Mata Mandir, Devatma Himalaya Mandir etc.
The great market, as it literally translates, is Haridwar’s own version of mystic shopping fest. From the elusive and very expensive Rudraksha seeds to medicines, digestives, churans, ayurvedic products and pooja-related paraphernalia, Bara Bazar sells it all. You can also buy ornaments and clothes for your own idols along with handicrafts. The Indian sweets here are also famous and must be tried at least once, even if you don’t have a sweet tooth. The milk-based sweets are especially delicious.
Patanjali Yoga Peeth
Patanjali is the father of Yoga. He systematically arranged the various aspects of this lifestyle, not only the exercises and poses but also the meditative cycles, nutrition, sleep cycles and seasonal life changes. The Patanjali Yoga Peeth in Haridwar, named after him, offers all of his teachings in the form of healing. People come here to heal without any allopathy medicines. Yoga therapy is applied to heal your body and mind. Classes, workshops and massages are applied. You can also sign up for longer programmes and stay on campus.
Har ki Pauri near Krishna Dham is where you should go at least one evening out of all the evenings you spend in Haridwar. Here is where the famous Ganga aarti happens. River Ganga, the mother deity, one that flows through North India and makes its soils fertile, has been worshipped as life-giving since time immemorial. And the evening aarti here everyday only calcifies this belief and tradition. Thousands of people gather at the bank to watch and pray as a line of priests get up on elevated platforms with supersized aartis and sing chants. Early morning aartis are also coveted here.
Birla Ghat is one of the many ghats of Haridwar. As Ganga River flows past, the history of this riverside tells its own tale. It is not one of the famous ones, hence you can come here to find some peace and solitude. Many locals and pilgrims believe in taking a holy dip here. If you come at the hour of dawn you can find many worshippers neck deep in water, chanting mantras and bowing down to the rising sun. You can too take a dip, soak in the peace, then stroll around the shacks on the side for scrumptious local breakfast.
Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary
Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary is your go-to in case you are bored of all the religious and spiritual tourism Haridwar is known for. The sanctuary is perfect to escape the traffic and noise and pollution of the city. There are thick jungles on the bank of Ganga, and you will find loads of animals roaming about on a typical day. From bears to leopards, tigers to elephants, you can sight them easily during the summer season. Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary is only 6 km away from Haridwar.
The ghat of the cow or Gau Ghat, is located on the southern end of Subhash Ghat. It is the place where Gandhiji was cremated. After his cremation, Nehru and Indira Gandhi’s last rites were also carried out here. Cow killing in Hinduism is a great crime, big enough, as big as killing a Brahmin. Hence if somebody has mistakenly killed a cow, they can come here and atone for their sin. Ancestors are also worshipped here and people come here for pitru-poojan too.
Fun Valley Water Park
Fun Valley Water Park is the kind of escape you need if you are done with all the sightseeing and worshipping. It lies on the way between Rishikesh and Haridwar, which is also referred to as the Golden Triangle. Known for its amusement park vibes along with lots of exciting rides, restaurants, motel and waterpark, Fun Valley is just what you should do if you are in Haridwar for a long week and need a rejuvenating fun day.