Haridwar is considered one of the oldest living cities in India. The history of Haridwar has no start date. The town has a rich history stretching from the time of Buddha to the British Empire. There are mentions of Haridwar as Kapilasthana, Gangadwara, and Mayapuri in ancient Hindu scriptures, including mentions in the Mahabharata. It is said that in the Satya Yuga, King Bhagirath brought down the Ganges through years of penance, from the heavens to the place we know as Haridwar in modern history.
Table of Contents
- Things to do in Haridwar
- History & Facts about Haridwar
- How to Reach
- Best time to Visit
- Places to Stay
Things to do in Haridwar
Haridwar tourism is not limited to the temples and sacred sites but also to the things you can do here and around.
- Explore the Rajaji National Park, a natural forest sanctuary offering eco-tourism, jungle safari, forest camping, bird watching, hiking etc.
- Visit the Shantikunj Gayatri Parivar – an ashram for meditation and spiritual learning.
- Visit the nearby Chilla Dam and enjoy panoramic views, picnics, and sunrise/sunsets on the Chilla Canal Viewpoint or stop on the Chilla Bridge for photos.
Although Haridwar is known for all its ancient and sacred temples, the Mata Mansa Devi Temple is almost synonymous with the place. Located atop the Bilwa Parvat, is the most famous temple of the town, and the prime holy spot for pilgrims. The Mansa Devi Temple is dedicated to the goddess Mansa, who is believed to be one of the forms of Shakti and is considered to have emerged from Shiva’s mind.
The word “Mansa” translates to “wish”. So, devotees visit this temple to get their deepest desires granted. The temple site also serves as one of the points of the three Siddh Peeths of Haridwar, the other two being Chandi Devi Temple and Maya Devi Temple. Apart from divination, the Mansa Devi Temple also offers incredible views of the surrounding hills. You can reach the temple by an uphill trek or take the cable car ride from the base of the hill.
Here are some things that you can do in the temple:
- Witness the Ganga aarti
- Tye the threads of the yearning and fulfillment of wishes
- Relish the prasad in the temple which is available for Rs.20-50 for all the devotees
- Drown in the enchants of the devotees & the monks on the banks of the Ganga.
Other Famous Temples in Haridwar
Besides the Mansa Devi Temple, there are a few other popular and revered temples that are major attractions –
1) Chandi Devi Temple
- Temple History – The foundation of this temple was laid in the 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya who is said to have installed the first idol. A formal shrine was built in the year 1929 by Kashmiri king Suchat Singh.
- Interesting Facts – Also known as Neel Parvat Teerth, this temple is one of the five pilgrimages of Haridwar and one of the three Siddha Peetha, a place where devotees worship to fulfil their desire.
- Temple timings – 7AM-7 PM
- Dresscode – Ethnic formal
- Best time to visit – Morning and late evening
2) Sri Ganga Mandir
- Temple History – The temple is dedicated to River Ganges and the site was constructed by King Vikramaditya in the 1st century BC, in memory of his brother, who is said to have come here and meditated on the banks.
- Temple timings – 12AM – 11.59PM
- Dresscode – Ethnic formal
- Best time to visit – During or after sunset
3) Daksheshwar Mahadev Temple
- Temple History – The temple is named after King Daksha Prajapati, the father of Sati, Shiva’s wife. The temple site is where the king held the grand Yagna and Sati jumped in the fire.
- Interesting Facts – The temple walls showcase various episodes of the mythological event of Sati and the temple’s history. The premise also houses a banyan tree, said to be thousands of years old.
- Temple timings – 6 AM-8PM
- Dresscode – Ethnic formal
- Best time to visit – Anytime
4) Bharat Mata Mandir
- Temple History – The temple was inaugurated by Indira Gandhi in 1983.
- Interesting Facts – The temple is built with 8 stories and displays an idol representing India, depicted as a four-armed Hindu goddess wearing saffron-colored robes, holding a book, sheaves of rice, a garland, and a white cloth.
- Temple timings – 5AM-9 PM
- Dresscode – Ethnic formal
- Best time to visit – Any time of the day
Visit the Ghats in Haridwar
Ghats in Haridwar is referred to as the banks on the Ganges, where religious rituals are held. Bathing in these ghats is considered auspicious and relieves Hindus of sins. Har Ki Pauri is considered to be the most sacred Ghat, along with Gau Ghat, Ashti Parvat Ghat, Subhash Ghat. Another bathing Ghats here include Vishnu Ghat, Ram Ghat, Kusha Ghat, Laltarao Pul Ghat, Pram Nagra Ghat, Singh Dwar Ghat, and Pul Jatwara Ghat.
Tourist Places to visit in Haridwar
Besides the temples and shrines, you can also visit other tourist places here. Some of the famous places to visit are –
1. Patanjali Yogpeeth
Open Timings- 8 AM-8PM
Fee – Free
2. Swami Vivekananda Park
Open Timings – 7AM-6 PM
Fee – Free
3. Neel Dhara Pakshi Vihar
Open Timings – 7 AM-7PM
Places to visit near Haridwar
Besides Haridwar sightseeing, you can also explore other nearby places to Haridwar. Check out some of these popular tourist places nearby –
- Rishikesh, 24 KM – The sister town of Haridwar, Rishikesh is equally scenic and sacred, but is best known for white water rafting and outdoor adventures. You can do camping, kayaking, boating, fishing, or join the Annual International Yoga Festival.
- Kotdwar, 66 KM – Visit the famous Kalagarh Tiger Reserve. The wildlife sanctuary is a part of the Save Tiger Project and is great for jungle safari, forest treks, or camping. Also try out Travel Trip Cafe – an offbeat, rustic cafe on the Pauri-Kotdwar Highway, on the way.
- Dehradun, 58 KM – The old colonial town boasts breathtaking mountain views and abundant greenery. You can simply stay and enjoy the quaintness or visit tourist hotspots like Malsi Deer Park, Mindroling Monastery, Robbers Cave etc.
- Mussoorie, 88 KM – If you are in Dehradun, you cannot miss its sister town, Mussoorie, dotted with colonial bungalows and old-world vibes. Visit the Christ Church, Sir George Everest Mansion, or head to the Lal Tibba for gorgeous mountain views or to the Kempty Waterfall for a day trek. Don’t forget to visit the Landour Bakehouse, serving traditional English fare.
Places to Eat
Restaurants here are predominantly vegetarian and these are some of the top-rated places to eat –
- Chaska Café and Restaurant
- Chotiwala Restaurant
- Hotel Raghuvanshi Gujrati Bhojanalay
- Chandra Mohan Vaishnav Bhojanalay
- Kingston Bistro
- Pandit Ji Poori Wale
- Pracheen Mathura Wala
- 9 Jawan Eats
History & Facts about Haridwar
Sitting at the foothills of the Shivalik Ranges of the Himalayas, on the banks of the Ganges, Haridwar is one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage destinations and a popular tourist locale. Along with its natural surroundings, rich cultural and religious history, and intense spiritual vibes, Haridwar offers a respite for all kinds of travellers. Haridwar city is the second-largest city of Uttarakhand and the largest of the district, with a population of 228, 832.
- Haridwar is popular as the site of Kumbh Mela, the biggest religious festival held every 12 years.
- The town also serves as a passage for the Chhota Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand.
- According to the Puranas, Haridwar, along with Ujjain, Nashik, and Allahabad, were the four sites where Amrut, the elixir of immortality was spilt during the Samudra Manthan.
- Haridwar is also the primary site of the Kanwar pilgrimage, where millions of pilgrims/participants collect water from the Ganges for miles to offer to the Shiva shrines.
[Also Read: Kumbh Mela 2021: Everything you need to know]
How to Reach Haridwar
There are several trains to Haridwar from all major cities and towns in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, among other states. There are regular trains from Delhi, Kolkata, Allahabad, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Agra, Hyderabad, Bangalore, etc.
Haridwar is well-connected to the rest of the state and neighbouring states by NH 7, NH 34 and other state highways. There are regular state-run and private buses from Delhi, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Roorkee, Saharanpur, Allahabad etc. to Haridwar. The best way to reach Haridwar is to book a cab or rent a car and take a road trip from any of these places and nearby major cities.
There is no airport in Haridwar. The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, about 45KM away. From there you can take the local bus or book an airport taxi to reach Haridwar by road.
Best time to visit Haridwar
Sitting at the foothills of the Himalayas, the weather is that of classic mountain plains, with warm and chilly winters. The temperature can range from 5 degrees Celsius in winter to 40 degrees Celsius in summer. So, the best time to visit is between November and March, when the weather is cool and pleasant.
Best Hotels in Haridwar
Most Haridwar hotels and lodges are located near the main pilgrimage sites. Check out some of these best-rated places to stay in Haridwar –
- Ganga Lahari Haridwar
- Devnadi – The Heritage Hotel
- Hotel Ganga Exotica
- Radisson Blu Haridwar
- Gopi Dham Ashram
- Holistic Living at Arogyam