The Sacred Doorway to Heaven.
An eight year old or an eighty year old, Haridwar is a place where all, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, status, age, gender or views, can feel the tranquility that touches the mind and the soul. Haridwar is a historic, medieval city in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, India. Regarded as one of the seven most holiest places of India, Sapta Puris, by the Hindus, it is one of the four sites where a drop of Amrit, the elixir of immortality had been dropped accidentally from the pitcher which was being carried by the celestial bird Garuda. The home of one of the greatest festivals of the Hindus, the Kumbh Mela, as well as the entry point to the Char Dham, i.e. the four main centres of pilgrimage in Uttarakhand, Haridwar is one of the most important place, taking up space even in the Hindu scriptures. As a result, the place is called 'Hardwar' by the Shaivaites, followers of Lord Shiva, where 'Hara' stands for Shiva and 'Haridwar' by the Vaishnavites, followers of Lord Vishnu, where 'Hari' depicts Vishnu. From the time when Buddha walked on the earth to the more recent British periods, Haridwar has witnessed it all, with thousands of year old mansions and havelis, still as the living-proof. Cable cars take you to the hill top Temples, while the aura of the place, especially in the evening, takes you to heaven. Hundreds of diyas, small lamps, are floated in to the river Ganga, every day in the evening, as the pujaris perform Ganga Aarti. Haridwar is holy, in every sense of the word. A photographer's paradise as well as an important site for pilgrims, Haridwar is absolutely one of the places you wanna tick off your bucket list.
It is believed that it was in Haridwar, where Lord Shiva released Goddess Ganga from the locks of his hair. Also, River Ganga descends to the Gangetic Plain for the very first time at Haridwar after flowing 253 kilometres from it's source, giving Haridwar it's old name, Gangadwára. The great-grandson of the Suryavanshi King, King Bhagiratha is said to have brought the River Ganges down from heaven for the salvation of 60,000 of his ancestors, from the curse of the Sage Kapila, through years of penance. Haridwar was also the home of Devi Sati and her father Daksha's palace. The place has also been referred to as Kapilasthana and Maypuri in the ancient Hindu scriptures. The name Kapila or Kapilasthana comes from the belief of Sage Kapila having an Ashram here.
Haridwar has lot's of Hotels for you to choose from, with varying room fares. You can grab a hotel room for as low as 300 INR per night, to 500, as well as 700 INR per night, or you can also choose to stay at the mid range hotels for a room fare of 1200 INR to 1500 INR. If you are in the mood of a first-class vacation, then you can choose to spend lavishly at the hotels charging a room rate of 2800 INR to 3500 INR per night, with an added advantage of them having faced the River Ganga. You will get a marvellous view of the river and the ghat from the river-faced hotels.
Top things do in Haridwar
How to reach
Haridwar is very easily accessible, no matter from where you are. The nearest airport is the Dehradun Airport, which is just 35 kilometres from Haridwar. The Haridwar Railway station is connected to nearly all the major cities. Buses pry regularly to Haridwar from the country capital, Delhi. Most recommended mode of transportation is although, by road. The breathtaking views on the journey will be worth it.
How to Reach by Flight
Jolly Grant Airport or the Dehradun Airport is the nearest domestic airport from Haridwar. The further 35 kilometres from the airport to your destination can be covered via taxi, cab or bus. The nearest international airport is the Indira Gandhi Internationl Airport in New Delhi, at a distance of 220 kilometres from Haridwar. One can hire a rental car, taxi, cab, bus or even get a train to reach their destination.
How to Reach by Train
The Haridwar Railway Station is accessible from nearly all major cities, like Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Dehradun, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Gaya, Varanasi, Puri, Patna, Bareilly, Allahabad, Lucknow, Bhopal, Indore, Itarsi and Khandwa. It takes about an hour to reach Haridwar from Dehradun via train, 23 hours and 25 minutes from Kolkata, 6 hours and 5 minutes from New Delhi and nearly 22 hours and 52 minutes from Mumbai. Although, most of the hotels are at a walking distance, taxis, autorickshaws or rickshaws can be hired if your hotel is a bit far away from the station.
How to Reach by Bus
Haridwar is connected to all major cities by bus service. More than 150 buses are available from New Delhi that regularly leave for Haridwar. The bus station is adjacent to the Railway station, but can be a bit too crowdy. Buses take six to eight hours to reach Haridwar from Delhi and an hour from Rishikesh. Air conditioned buses are at a shortage, so tickets need to be booked well in adance so that you can get your suitable seat. It is adviced that while booking tickets, you should always go for the cushioned buses, so that your bumpy bus journey may not exhaust you completely and ruin your vacation time.
How to Reach by Road
The National Highway 58 from Delhi to Mna Pass, connects Haridwar with Ghaziabad, Roorkee, Muzzafarnagar, Badrinath and Meerut. On the other hand, the National Highway 74 that originates from the city itself, connects it with Kashipur, Kichha, Nagina, Pilibhit and Bareilly. It takes about 4 hours and 44 minutes to reach Haridwar from New Delhi, 1 hour 39 minutes from Dehradun and only 38 minutes from Rishikesh, via your personal car or your rental.
How to travel within
Almost all of Haridwar can be covered on-foot and it is the most suggested mode of transport to travel within the sacred city. But, for when you are tired and your legs can't take you any further, taxi, autorickshaws and cycle rickshaws are just a call away. The taxi fare is usually double of what an autorickshaw will charge you for the same distance.
It can be a little difficult for all those who are habituated to eating meat, fish or egg regularly, as Haridwar is a purely vegetarian town. You won't get any restaurants selling non-vegetarian food here. But, on the plus point, you can try out a variety of veg food which are equally, if not more delicious than your regular plate of food. Haridwar can be a delight for Bengalis or people who love Bengali food, as there are multiple restaurants serving Bengali cuisine, owing to the huge number of Bengali's that flood the place every year. Bhagwati Chole Wala is a place on the upper road, where you can get a variety of Chole dishes, all available at a fixed price of 30 INR, including their specialty, Mixed minced buns in Choley(Bengal Gram) gravy and their delicious glass of Lassi. Also, they serve on banana leaf along with salad, which can be a really traditional experience for this new generation. All those Bengalis can have a look at Didir Hotel, opposite to Hotel Vishrant Vishnughat, where you will get a range of different Thalis, costing 40 INR each. Their specialty is Dhokar Dalna served with Rotis. Overall, you can get a scrumptuos meal within a range of 30 INR to 150 INR. Also, Alcohol is banned in Haridwar, so you won't find a restaurant serving any type of alcoholic drinks.
Haridwar is a place full of monkeys and cows, so be extremely cautious of monkeys trying to steal things and of the cow residues painted all over the streets. Apart from animals, there is also the trouble of fake Pandits and beggars, trying to grab an opportunity to steal from you. Therefore, beware of them and do not fall into their traps. Lastly, try to be as safe as possible during festivals and the Kumbh Mela, when the most number of people crowd the ghats of Haridwar, There have been reports of deaths during these Kumbh Melas, due to stampedes. Thus, one has to be very alert and aware while visiting Haridwar during the peak seasons.
Spend your first day visiting the three Siddh Peeths of Haridwar- the Manasa Devi temple, the Chandi Devi temple and the Maya Devi temple.
The second day can be passed visiting the Daksheswara Mahadev Temple in the morning and Har Ki Pauri in the evening. Feel the energy of the Ganga Aarti and float diyas in the river for a whole new experience.
The Sapt Rishi Ashram and the Vaishno Devi temple should be your stops for the third day.
Take a look at the local markets and spend your evening on the banks of the river for a soothing experience that will calm your body and soul.
If you have an extra day then spend it with the locals around the city and listening to the interesting stories that they have to say. Take a walk around the town or maybe take a dip in the river, experience Haridwar in a spiritual level.