Popular for being one of the seven major holy places in India, Haridwar is a pilgrim city that sees thousands of tourists throughout the year. It is also believed to be one of the four places where ‘Amrit’ or the elixir of immortality was dropped by Garuda – the celestial bird. It is also one of the sites where the world famous Khumbh Mela is conducted when devotees flock to Haridwar to bathe in the River Ganges in hopes that it will wash away their sins.
Haridwar also sees a lot of tourists as it is the entry point to the Char Dham in Uttarakhand, which are the four main pilgrimage centres in Uttarakhand. A Haridwar car rental service can be utilized to plan a visit to this holy city.
Chota Char Dham
Char Dham corresponds to the four places that Hindus believe will grant them salvation. A pilgrimage to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri is conducted by the Hindu devotees in an attempt to appease the Gods and achieve Moksha. While Char Dham originally referred to the four main pilgrimage centres – Puri, Dwarka, Badrinath, and Rameshwaram, later on, the term Chota Char Dham came to denote the four centres that represented deities from the three major sects of Hinduism – Shakti, Shaiva, and Vaishnava.
The trail to the Chota Char Dham was long and challenging until as recently as the 1950s. After the construction of roads other infrastructure around the area, pilgrims are now able to access the nearest points of the four shrines in cars, jeeps, and minibuses.
Yamunotri is located in the Garhwal Himalayas and is the source of River Yamuna. It is also believed to be the seat of the Goddess Yamuna and a shrine is built at the foot of the hill dedicated to the Goddess.
Gangotri is nestled in the Greater Himalayan Range and is the origin of the River Ganga. The town is on the bank of the river Bhagirathi. It is believed that when Lord Shiva released Goddess Ganga from the locks of his hair, she descended in this region. The Gangotri Temple was built by Amar Singh Thapa, a Nepali general.
Badrinath is a famous site of pilgrimage for the Vaishnavites. It is believed that Adi Shankara discovered a black stone image of Badrinarayana in the Alakananda River and established a shrine near the hot springs (Tapt Kund). The idol was then moved to its present location by the King of Garhwal. The temple has been destroyed numerous times by earthquakes and avalanches, yet never fading in popularity.
Kedarnath Temple is built on the shore of the Mandakini River with a backdrop of the picturesque Himalayan range. The temple remains open only at certain times of the year which is determined as per the calculations of the priests of the temple.
The Chardham Yatra is popular among many Hindu devotees and is conducted from the months of April to November. The gates to the Char Dham open during Akshay Tritiya and pilgrims need to keep track of the same before setting on the journey. Haridwar is a gateway to the Chardham Yatra, along with being a pilgrim site on its own. With Delhi to Haridwar taxi services available easily, planning a visit to the holy city has never been easier.