Haridwar: Brief Background, Pilgrimage, Yoga, Spirituality

Haridwar is a religious holy ancient city. It is in the northern Indian State of Uttaranchal. It is on the foothills of the great Himalayas. Hindu holy river Ganges, also called Ganga, flows through Haridwar. Ganges reaches the plains here in Haridwar. This is after traveling about 250 kms through the Himalayan mountains.

The Hindu religious journey to Char Dham starts from Haridwar. Char Dham means the four top holy pilgrimage places of the Hindus. The Char Dhams are Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. ‘Char’ means four. ‘Dham’ means holy location-places-spots. Gangotri is the origin-source point of the 2,500 kms long river Ganges. Yamnotri is the starting point of the 1,370 kms long river Yamuna. Haridwar mostly has Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu temples, a few Jain temples and Gurudwara Nanakwara.

Some of the famous Hindu temples in Haridwar are Chandi Devi Temple, Mansa Devi Temple, Har Ki Pauri, Maya Devi Temple, Neeleshwar Temple. There are many other small and big temples in the area.

It is believed that Jesus Christ spent time in the Himalayan foothills, caves, ahead of Haridwar. Some Historians say that Jesus came in contact with Buddhists, cave meditators or Saints.

The temperature in Haridwar has a contrast. In summers, it can reach up to 43°C. In the winters, the minimum temperature can mark about 15°C. Rains in Haridwar take place between July – September.   

The population of Haridwar is about 19,50,000, i.e., 1.95 million.

Haridwar is about 225 kms from the capital New Delhi, India. That is roughly a 5-hour straight drive. One can reach by train or by road. Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the closest airport. It is about 38 kms from Haridwar.

Many tourists, visitors, devotees come to Haridwar for pilgrimage, Yoga, meditation, Aarti (prayer ceremony) with Diyas, small oil lamps at Har Ki Pauri, to seek blessings, mental peace etc. Thousands of Hindus take the holy dip in the river Ganges every month here. However, during festivities and Hindu prominent events like Makar Sankranti, Ram Navami, Kumbh Mela etc, the Ganges river banks are flooded with devotees.

Some come for other tourism purposes, such as, river rafting in nearby Rishikesh. Rajaji National Park is also a must visit. International Yoga Festival took place in Hardwar, in 1-7 March 2018 with worldwide visitors.