Haridwar, lying at the feet of Shiva's hills, i.e., Shivaliks, in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand,, is a doorway to Chardham Shrines. Suryavanshi prince Bhagirath performed penance here to salvage the souls of his ancestors who had perished due to the curse of sage Kapila. The penance was answered and the river Ganga trickled forth forms Lord Shiva's locks and its bountiful water revived the sixty thousand sons of king Sagara. In the traditional of Bhagirath, devout Hindus stand in the sacred waters here, praying for salvation of their departed elder. It is doorway to
the sources of the Ganga and the Yamuna, 3000 to 4500 meters up into the snowy ranges of the central Himalayas . The 'Aarti' worship of the Ganga after sunset and the floating 'dia' (lamp) is a moving ritual.
Places to See:-
Har Ki Pauri: Not just Haridwar, this is one of the most sacred bathing ghats in India. It is believed to have been constructed by King Vikramaditya in memory of his brother Bhartrihari. Don't miss the spectacular evening aarti (prayer), which is a display of sound and colour. Particularly enchanting is when the pilgrims float lighted diyas lighting up the entire river. This ghat is particularly busy during the Kumbh Mela when millions of devotees take a holy dip here.
ChandiDeviTemple: Located atop the Neel Parvat, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Chandi who is believed to have killed the demon. The temple is accessible by a walk up the hill, though ropeway services can also be used.
MasaDeviTemple: Located atop the Bilwa Parwat, the deity is believed to have wish-granting powers. Within the main temple are two idols of the Goddess - one with three mouths and five arms, and the second with eight arms. Especially notable is the cable car ride to this temple, which offers picturesque views of the entire city.
MayaDeviTemple: Dating to the 11th century, this ancient temple is dedicated to the Adhisthatri Devi and regarded as one of the Siddhapethas. It holds special importance for Hindus, since it is believed that this was the spot where the heart and navel of Goddess Sati fell.
DakshaMahadevTemple: This ancient temple is dedicated to a legend of Goddess Sati's wedding to Lord Shiva. Legend has it that King Daksha Prajapati, father of Goddess Sati performed a yagna (holy prayers) here, to which he did not invite Lord Shiva. When Shiva arrived uninvited, he was further insulted by the king. This infuriated the goddess and she self-immolated herself in the yagna fire. King Daksha was later killed by the demon Virabhadra, who was born due to Shiva's anger. Later, Shiva himself brought the back to life.
Sati Kund: Located in Kankhal, Sati Kund is believed to be where Sati immolated herself.
Neel Dhara Pakshi Vihar: This is one of the best spots to view a wide array of birdlife, especially migratory birds during winters. Among other species, you can catch a glimpse of much-loved Siberian Crane around Laljiwala on the banks of the river.
Parad Shivling: Located in Kankhal, its main attractions include the shivling weighing almost 150 kg and the Rudraksha Tree.
Bhimgoda Tank: Located 1 km from Har-ki-Pauri, this tank is believed to have been created when Bhima drew water from the rocks here by thrusting his knee on the ground.
Jairam Ashram: This is one of the most unavoidable spots of Haridwar. It houses within several sculptures from Hindu mythology. The most famous structure is the huge white statue depicting the famous scene of Samudra Manthan or churning of the ocean for the pot of holy nectar, which grants Haridwar its religious significance.
Sapt Rishi Ashram & Sapt Sarovar: This beautiful spot was the meditating ground for seven great sages or Saptarishis, namely Kashyapa, Vashisht, Atri, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gautam. It is here that Ganga split herself into seven streams so that the Rishis would not be disturbed by the flow.
Doodhadhari Barfani Temple: A sprawling temple complex in white marble, the temples of Ram-Sita and Hanuman are particularly noteworthy here.
Sureshwari Devi Temple: Located within the Rajaji National Park, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. Remember, permission from forest rangers is mandatory to visit it.
Bharat Mata Mandir: A huge 8-storey temple, each floor within has idols belonging to different mythological legends, leaders and heroes, who have worked towards India's independence. The first floor of the temple has the statue of Bharat Mata holding India's map.
Anandamayi Ma Ashram: Located in Kankhal, the ashram houses the samaadhi shrine of one of the most noted saint Sri Anandamayi Ma.
Piran Kaliyar: Built by Ibrahim Lodhi, this Dargah is known for its wish-granting powers. The Urs Festival is celebrated at this Dargah every year with great zest.
Gurukul Kangri University: One of the few universities that still follow the ancient of Guru-Sishya pattern of education. Visit the Ved Mandir Museum which has an exceptional collection of archaeological exhibits and artifacts.
Triveni Ghat: Following Har-ki-Pauri, the Triveni Ghat is visited by people who worship the river with milk and diyas. Post sunset, priests perform religious ceremonies and set floating lamps on the water as part of the aarti ceremony.
Chila Wildlife Sanctuary: Located 10 km away, this sanctuary is part of the Rajaji National Park and houses a good number of rare Himalayan flora and fauna. The sanctuary remains closed annually from mid-June to mid-November.
Neel Kantha Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is sited at a height of 1700 metres. According to a legend, this is the place where Lord Shiva drank the poison churned out of the cosmic ocean. The Shivratri festival is held here in reverence to the Lord.