Propitiously located at the point where the Ganges emerges from the Himalaya, Haridwar (also called Hardwar) is Uttarakhand’s holiest Hindu city and pilgrims arrive here in droves to bathe in the often fast-flowing Ganges. The sheer numbers of people gathering around Har-ki-Pairi Ghat give Haridwar a chaotic but reverent feel – as in Varanasi, it’s easy to get caught up in the spiritual clamour here. Within the religious architecture of India, Haridwar is much more significant than Rishikesh, an hour further north, and every evening the river comes alive with flickering flames as floating offerings are released onto the Ganges.
Dotted around the city are impressive temples, both ancient and modern, dharamsalas (pilgrims’ rest houses) and ashrams, some of which are the size of small villages. Famous for its Ayurvedic medicines, the city is relatively hassle-free and is also the gateway to nearby Rajaji National Park.
Haridwar is busy during the yatra season from April to November, but the big annual event is the Magh Mela in January or February, which every six years becomes a bigger Ardh Magh Mela. Every 12 years the mega Kumbh Mela (the next one in Haridwar is 2010) attracts millions of pilgrims.
Ganga Aarti Video