The sacred city of Haridwar offers a colourful and fascinating blend of culture. Being one of the seven holiest cities in India, Haridwar often bustles with devotees. It propitious location near the holy River Ganga has made gain more popularity. With the passage of time, it has become more than just a religious city, where people thronged to perform immersion of the ashes or took a dip in the water to wash away their sins. It has in fact evolved into Yoga, cultural and spiritual centre and has also become a prime hub for learning the Sanskrit language The modern day, Haridwar is the reflection of the culture of India and thus offer much to its visitors. Here is the list of best 12 places that one must see in this holy city.
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.
Swami Satyamitranand Giri laid the foundation of Bharat Mata Temple, which is situated on the bank of Ganga that flows through Haridwar. It is one massive and unique temple in Haridwar and is dedicated to Mother India and has deities of historical legends. The temple complex is an 8-storey structure with each floor dedicated to different Gods and mythological heroes. While on the first floor there is a statue of Bharat Mata, on the second floor there is a temple (Shur Mandir) that is dedicated to the renowned heroes of India. The third floor is known as the Matri Mandir and is dedicated to the achievements of women such as Radha, Mira, Savitri, Draupadi, Ahilya, Anusuya, Maitri and Gargi. The fourth floor is devoted to saints from various religions, including Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism and this floor is called Sant Mandir. On the sixth floor, an assembly hall with walls depicting the symbolic coexistence of all religions practised in India and paintings portraying the history and beauty of various provinces are kept. The various forms of the Goddess Shakti can also be seen on the sixth floor. The seventh floor is dedicated to all the incarnations of Lord Vishnu and the eighth floor is devoted to Lord Shiva.
Built by King Suchat Singh, Chandi Devi Temple is perched on Neel Parvat. To reach the temple one has to trek 3kms from Chandighat or have to take the cable car. According to legends, it is the same place where Goddess Chandi killed Chanda-Munda, an army chief of the Demon Kings Sumbha and Nishumba. It is also believed that the main deity in the temple was established by the great saint Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century.
Situated on the Railway Road, Bara Bazar is a popular shopping place in Haridwar. Since Haridwar is a religious town, all you can expect here are the items that are required in a Pooja (Worship). However, at Bara Bazar you are likely to find handicraft articles as well, these in fact, can very well be taken back home as souvenirs. Rudraksha seeds, Churan (digestive powders) and a variety of sweets made from milk can also be brought from the shops in Bara Bazar. Ayurvedic medicines are also quite a popular buy in the market.
Having historical importance, the Bhimgoda Kund/Tank is situated about 1 km from Har ki Pauri. Legend has it that while proceeding to the Himalaya, the Pandavas stopped by to drink the water here in Haridwar, and Bhimgoda is the place where Bhima drew water from the rocks by thrusting his knee (Goda). It is a major attraction in Haridwar and is visited by many people all through the year.
Daksha Mahadev Temple is a tribute to a Hindu mythological legend. According to the legend, King Daksha Prajapati, who was the father of Dakshayani/Sati, organized a yagna, in which he deliberately did not invite Lord Shiva. However, upon learning about the yagna, Sati insisted Shiva to go with her to which he refused. However Sati was determined to attend the event. On seeing her arrive at the yagna, her father, Daksha became furious and started to hurl insults at her and Lord Shiva. Sati tried to placate her father, but failed. Finally, when she could take it no more, she flew into a rage and took the form of Goddess Adi Parashakti and introduced herself to Daksha as the Eternal Power. She declared that she would give up her mortal life by jumping into the sacrificial fire.
Learning about the incident, Lord Shiva became enraged and decapitated Daksha in his Virbhadra avatar, the destructive incarnation. However, later Lord Shiva relented and restored all that was destroyed and brought back to life all those he had slain including King Daksha whose head he substituted with that of a goat. Daksha was humbled by both Shiva’s show of strength as well as his grace. He completely changed and became an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva.
A haven for nature lovers and peace seekers, Kanva Rishi Ashram is situated about 40 km away from the bustling Haridwar city. Tucked amidst the tranquil nature, Kanva Rishi Ashram often attracts those who want to spend some time in solace. It is indeed one of the most preferred getaways from Haridwar and a popular one as well.
Presiding over the Bilwa Parvat is the temple of Mansa Devi. It is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Haridwar and can be reached by a cable car. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mansa (the goddess who fulfils wishes) and has two prime idols of the Goddess in the main temple; one with three mouths and five arms, while the other one has eight arms. Another reason for the temple being famous is the spectacular view from the cable car.
Located about 5 km away from Haridwar, Sapt Rishi Ashram is one place that every tourist should see. Maintaining an old-world charm, this ashram is the Sanskrit learning point. Sapt Rishi Ashram is so named, as it was the place where seven sages, namely Kashyapa, Vashisht, Gautam, Jamadagi, Vishwamitra, Bhardwaja and Atri once meditated. The ashram is at a short distance from the bank of the River Ganga and is also quite a picturesque place. It is also believed that Pandavas while going to Himalaya crossed this place as well.
It is the headquarter of one of the most famous spiritual and social organizations, the All World Gayatri Parivar in India. Situated at the bank of River Ganga and at a distance of about 5 km from Haridwar Railway Station, Shantikunj is approached by a large number of people seeking spiritual guidance. Therefore, it is one of the best places to see in Haridwar as it adds to your spiritual journey in the city. The key features of Shantikunj are Social Reforms, Psycho-Social Engineering, Disaster Management, Self-reliant Development of Rural India, Comprehensive Training Programs, Revival of Vedic culture, Reinvestigation of Vedic literature & Methods of Sadhana, Sixteen Sanskar s (sacramental rites), Vichar Kranti Abhiyan (Thought Revolution Movement), Innovative research in Ayurveda, Tirthas (Pilgrimage Centers), Worshipping the deity of human life through threefold path of Upasana, Sadhana and Aradhana, and Ascent and Empowerment of Women and Transformation of Youth: Shiksha and Vidya ( Education , Knowledge and Righteous Intellect).
Needless to give an introduction of Patanjali Yog Peeth as it is one of the most popular and largest Yoga institutes in India run by Yog Guru Baba Ramdev. Situated on the Delhi-Haridwar Highway, Patanjali is the famous ashram and many people swarm here every day for one purpose or the other. So, if you are in Haridwar, it is absolutely a must visit place!
Popularly known as the Rajaji Wildlife Sanctuary, Chilla Wildlife Reserve is located at a distance of just 18 km from Haridwar. This wildlife reserves in Uttarakhand is home to many wildlife species like Elephants, Tigers, Bears and Small cats. It is enriched with a variety of flora that results in making this 249 sq km wildlife sanctuary quite scenic. This wildlife sanctuary surely proffers an exhilarating and memorable experience for both nature and wildlife lovers.
There is still much more that one can see in Haridwar and all that we have discussed is just a trailer of what you are going to experience in this beautiful city. One can visit Haridwar any time of the year; however, it is best to avoid it during the monsoon. There are many ashrams and budget hotels that offer a pleasant stay in Haridwar; to avoid inconvenience, make sure you book well in advance.