In my last article we travelled to Rishikesh and had an awe-inspiring experience. So today let me take you to Haridwar which is just 30kms short from Rishikesh. Nested in Uttarakhand, Haridwar is a getaway to the land of Gods. Anyone who visits the place is welcomed by the chanting of mantras by the priests and the sound of the ringing temple bells.
Situated on the banks of the river Ganga, Haridwar is one of the four places in the Indian subcontinent where the Kumbh Mela is held after every 12 years; the Ardh Kumbh Mela being held after every six years (the Mela is held on rotation among the four places; the other three being Ujjain, Nashik and Prayagraj). Haridwar can be visited throughout the year but I would recommend visiting during the months of October-March to avoid the scorching heat of Indian summer.
The most sacred Ghat of Haridwar, Har Ki Pauri-footsteps of the Lord, remains alive with the hustling and footsteps of lakhs of pilgrims coming from around the world. People take a holy dip in the Ganges to absolve one their wrongdoings and seek blessings and solace for themselves and family. The best part of Haridwar is the famous Ganga Aarti. As the auspicious time of Ganga Aarti sets in, the evenings are a spectacle to behold. The Aarti is carried out by facing towards the river. The offering of diyas alongwith the Holy chants in praise of mother Ganga brings forward the divinity and faith associated with the place. The experience is so surreal as if the Lord has himself transcended in our midst to be part of the auspicious Aarti. As thousands of diyas and offerings light up the Holy waters it offers a breathtaking view and an experience to be remembered forever.
Haridwar is also home to many of the famous temples in India. A small hike from Har Ki Pauri will take one to Mansa Devi temple, dedicated to Goddess Mansa Devi. The place around the temple also provides a breath taking view of river Ganga. There are many other noteworthy temples in Haridwar; Maya Devi Mandir, Bharat Mata Mandir, Chandi Devi Temple, Neeleshwar Temple to name a few. Haridwar has also become one of the prominent places for many Yogpeeths. There are many such ashrams and yogpeeths which provide a holistic approach towards life and society.
There are many shopping options to explore around. Articles of religious interests and other home decor items are available with good deals. Souvenirs like idols and figurines are great to bring back home and spread the positive vibes of the place. Many people believe that Ganga water cleanses and purifies both body and soul and hence they bring some water to take back home. The place around the Ghat also provides varied fooding and lodging options, offering good quality food and comfortable stay.
Haridwar is one of the few places where one feels totally connected to spirituality and drawn to divinity. Some may say it’s because of the river Ganga or the innumerable temples that its home to; but whatever is the reason we will always feel that a weight has been lifted of our shoulders once we are there. It brings peace and tranquillity to our minds, brings us closer to our faith and beliefs and assures us that no matter how dark it is today, the light at the end of the tunnel is not very far. It provides the much needed respite from the mundane life and brings one closer to the Supreme Being. The mysticism surrounding the place is sure to bring the body and soul together for heavenly bliss.