Haridwar (Hardwar) is one of the holiest places in India for practitioners of the Hindu religion.
Hindu lore says drops from the sacred elixir of immortality fell here millennia ago, and today the sacred city draws throngs of religious pilgrims who bathe in the holy Ganges River. Every four years the Kumbh Mela (a massive Hindu pilgrimage) rotates to Haridwar, and with it comes millions of Hindus seeking purification in the Ganges.
The city is a spiritual center for the Hindu religion, and is host to numerous ashrams, temples, and shrines for the devout and sightseers on tours of India to enjoy like the hilltop shrines of Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi reached by cable car.
Running alongside the Ganges where it first reaches the plains of India from the Himalayas, Haridwar is just a few miles from Rishikesh, the town the Beatles stayed in while working on The White Album.
Har-ki-PairiGhat (The footsteps of God) is where the devout step down into the holy Ganges from the canals and bridges of Haridwar every evening for ritual cleansing where Hindu tradition says the god Vishnu left his footprint. Travelers visiting the city on luxury tours of India often come to view pilgrims during the torch-lit evening ceremonies.
Best Time to Visit Haridwar:
Year-round, Haridwar is a busy locus for international and domestic tourists as well as religious pilgrims, some of whom may travel for weeks to reach the holy site.
Pilgrimage season runs May through October every year, which coincides with the area’s heaviest rainfalls. If your India tour plans bring you to Haridwar during this time of year, plan far in advance as the millions of pilgrims seeking salvation through the waters of the Ganges will decrease the availability of accommodations and swell the crowds in the city, especially during the Kumbh Mela every four years.
How to get to Haridwar:
Nestled beside the Ganges River in the Northern Indian state of Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal), Haridwar is well connected to the rest of India by modern highways. Travelers can also shorten the trip by flying into Dehradun then reaching the Haridwar by private car.
A pilgrimage for both the devout and travelers on India tours, Haridwar draws millions of visitors every month to view the holy rituals that take place in the Ganges, and make offerings to the area’s shrines. A treat for the devout and the uninitiated, the spiritual presence of Haridwar leaves a lasting impression.
A center of spiritual devotion for the Hindu religion, Haridwar is a conservative city full of holy sites. Visitors should plan to dress modestly by covering shoulders, arms, and legs in the city.