When the name Haridwar comes in a discussion then immediately a holy city thought comes into the mind of everyone. Everyone imagines the city Haridwar, the city of saints and temples. Haridwar means the dwar to hari (Gateway to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu) and it is very true. Haridwar is the gateway to the beautiful Shivalik ranges and to the Himalayas where Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu resides. Haridwar is the place where Amrit fall after Samudra Manthan. Kumbh Mela is held here once in twelve years and Ardh Kumbh is held here once in six years. People come here to take a dip in the Ganges to wash away their sins. Lakhs of people come to take a dip at Har Ki Pauri at every snan(Holy bath) any time of the year. Kanvad Mela is also organized every year during the month of Sawan which does the traffic jam and halt the entire city. It is better to enquire well if you are travelling to Haridwar any time of the year.
The aarti is conducted at Hari Ki Pauri every day in the morning as well as in the evening at the time of sunset. The aarti of Har Ki Pauri is famous and people come to attend the aarti from all over the world. All kind of shops are available near Har Ki Pauri where one can buy things for pooja and holy souvenirs for their houses. The famous temple of Mansa Devi is also located in this area and it is connected by a ropeway while Chandi Devi temple is located on the other side of the Ganga and also connected by ropeway. Daksh Prajapati temple is located in Khankhal area.
Over a time Haridwar is developed and spread over a big area. One can roughly divide the city into three parts, the old city where Har Ki Pauri, Mansa Devi, Maya Devi temple and hundreds of ashrams are located in small lanes and the other part is newly developed which is residential as well as the commercial area. The other part is the big industrial area called SIDKUL and BHEL.
The old city area is very congested and the roads are very narrow. Only rickshaws and small three wheelers are allowed for transportation in this area. There is a cluster of Ashrams & cheap hotels located in the small lanes where tourist can stay. The rooms in some ashrams are very good and they provide all facilities like hotels.
All kind of hotels from small to luxury hotels is available in Haridwar. Most of the hotels are located on the main Delhi-Rishikesh highway outside the city. Har-Ki-Pauri and other temples are 10 mins drive from these hotels.
Haridwar is well connected by road, rail and air. It lies on the National Highway 58 which connects Delhi to Badrinath. The Government is reconstructing this highway to 4 lane highway and almost half the work is completed. All types of buses like State Govt Buses, Private buses and Luxury buses operate from Delhi to Haridwar. Jolly Grand Airport at Dehradun is 35 km/ 01 hrs drive from Haridwar. Haridwar is well connected by train route as well. There are many trains which start from Haridwar or passes through Haridwar which is going to Dehradun.
Mansa Devi Temple: Mansa Devi Temple is located in Haridwar on top of the Bilwa Parvat. It is one of the three Siddh Peethas located at Haridwar. It is believed that Mansa Devi is a form of Shakti and also the sister of the snake Naga. Mansa also means wish and hence many devotees come here to fulfil their wishes. They tie a thread around an old tree in the complex wishing for something. You have to trek up the hill to reach the temple or you can also go by the cable car.
Chandi Devi Temple: Chandi Devi Temple is located in Haridwar on top of the Neel Parvat. It is also one of the three Siddh Peethas located at Haridwar. It is believed that the idol of Chandi Devi was reinstalled by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century. Goddess Parvati had taken on the form of Chandika on the Neel Parvat to slay the two demons Shumbha and Nishumbha. At this temple also devotees come to fulfill their desires. You can either trek to the temple or take a cable car ride. During Navratras a large number of visitors come to take darshan of the Goddess.
Maya Devi Temple: Maya Devi Temple is located in Haridwar. People believe that parts of Goddess Sati fell here and so it is called as a Shakti Peetha. Many devotees come to this temple for wish fulfilment, especially during the Navratras. The temple was built around the 11th century. The main idols inside are of Goddess Maya, Kali and Kamakhya. The temple is located near Har-Ki-Pauri and can be reached by road easily.
Daksha Prajapati Temple: Daksha was a great king and a son of Lord Brahma. The meaning of Daksha in Sanskrit is Prajapati or Brahmas son and hence the name Daksha Prajapati. He had around 65 daughters and the youngest one was named Sati. She was very fond of Lord Shiva and married him against her father’s wishes. King Daksha hated Shiva and did not invite Shiva and Sati to the great Yagna. Sati eventually went to the Yagna and her father insulted her to such an extent that she jumped into the fire. Shiva in his grief carried the body of Sati and the places where her body parts fell are called as the Shakti Peethas.
Bharat Mata Mandir: Bharat Mata Mandir is located at Sapt Sarovar in Haridwar. It is also called as the Mother India temple. It was founded by Swami Satyamitranand Giri It has eight floors and each floor is dedicated to religious Gods, great leaders, patriotic figures, saints or religions. The main Idol is of Bharat Mata on the first floor. There is a lift facility in the building so that all the pilgrims can easily visit the various floors.
Bilkeshwar Mahadev: Bilkeshwar Mahadev Temple is located close to Haridwar railway station. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati. Bilkeshwar means Lord of Bilva or the medicinal Bel tree which is considered as a holy tree among Hindus. Legend says that Devi Parvati had meditated to Lord Shiva in this temple and when Shivji appeared she asked him to marry her. In this temple Shivji is in the form of Linga. In the same complex there is another temple of Devi Parvati.
Vaishno Devi Temple: Vaishno Devi Temple is located in Haridwar close to Bharat Mata Temple. It is made in the same design as Vaishno Devi Temple in Katra. Even the entrance to the temple has many caves and tunnels like the original temple. It is believed that Mata gives darshan only to those who really wish to visit the temple. The Moola Rupa of Lakshmiji, Kaliji and Saraswatiji can be found inside the temple. During festivals the temple is decorated and many devotees line up for darshan.
Shanti Kunj: Shanti Kunj belongs to the All World Gayatri Pariwar who live according to the wisdom of Vedic Rishis. It is located near the Ganga river in Haridwar. Shantikunj was founded by Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya in the year 1971. There are several educational buildings in the premises where courses of Yoga, Art of Living, Music, Sanskrit, Ayurveda, etc… are conducted. Their main aim is to create a cultural, moral, spiritual and national awareness among mankind. People of all religions, caste and creed from all over the world come here.
Har Ki Pauri: Har Ki Pauri literally means Steps of Lord Shiva. It is believed that Shiv ji and Vishnu ji visited this famous ghat by the Ganga river in Haridwar. Infact there is a large footprint of Lord Vishnu in a wall made out of stone. There is a sacred spot here called the Brahmakund where drops of Amrut had fallen from the sky when Garud was flying with it after Samudra Manthan. From here the Ganga leaves the mountain areas and enters into the plains. Lakhs of devotees come here to take a bath during Kumbh Mela, Ardh Kumbh Mela and on major Hindu festivals. Every evening at sunset the ghat is lined with devotees who attend the Ganga Aarti conducted by priests.
Pawan Dham: Pawam Dham is located 2kms from Haridwar on the Rishikesh road. They deal with seva of Sants, Cows, free food and support for poor students. It was founded by Swami Vedantanandji in 1970. Pawan Dham gives its visitors an opportunity to do social work for mankind and animals. The temple is famous for its exquisite mirror and glasswork. Also the idols of the temple have been decorated very beautifully.
Patanjali Ashram: Pujya Swami Shri Shanker Dev ji established Patanjali Yogpeeth at Khankhal, Haridwar in the year 1995. Nowadays it is run by philanthropist Pujya Swami Ramdev ji and Acharya Balkrishna ji Maharaj. Swami Ramdev has taken on the responsibility of popularising Patanjali Yoga for all mankind through various healing aasanas. He is also involved in reforming the social, political and economic system of India to make it corruption free, addiction free and to use Swadeshi products. Acharya Balkrishna on the other hand has imparted his excellent knowledge of ayurveda to prepare a whole range of medicines and other products. There is an Ayurvedic college, Yogpeeth, Pharmacy, Herbal Garden, Gaushalas and Arogya Kendras within the campus.
Maa Anandamayi Ashram: This ashram is located at Khankhal near Daksha Mahadev Temple. This ashram is named after Maa Anandamayi who was a holy person and lived here for many years. She was from Bengal and had mystical powers. People from all over the world who believe in her principles come to visit the ashram. There is a chanting area in the premises where many saints, disciples and devotees chant mantras. There is also a Rudraksha tree, Ati Rudra Yagnashala, Shankaracharya Hall, Maha Yagna Centre, Museum, Bookshop, etc... in the ashram area.
Sapt Rishi Ashram: Sapt Rishi Ashram is located at Motichur in Haridwar. According to legend there were seven great Rishis or Sapt Rishis who meditated here. They were disturbed by the loud sounds that came from the Ganga River flowing nearby. So they blocked the flow of the river and the river split into seven streams so that the noise level would be reduced. These streams are called as Sapt Sarovar and the ashram where the seven rishis meditated is called as Sapt Rishi Ashram. There are several rooms here where people can stay and a Sanskrit school for poor children.