It is said to have been named ‘KAPILA’ after a sage with the same name. According to Hiuen Tsiang the place had a name ‘Gangadwara’. Prsent name Haridwar is the way to reach Hara [Lord Shiva, as claimed by Shaivites] or Hari [Lord Vishnu, as claimed by Vaishnavites]. Its main ghat is Hari Ka Charan or Hari Ki Pairi [Lord Vishnu’s footprints]. History has it that the ghats and around have also witnessed the massacre of Gosains, Bairagis and other devotees at different periods of time.
When to go?
All the year round. Avoid on weekends, public holidays and vacations because of crowd. If you wish to have peaceful outing avoid special occasions like Kumbh Mela, Ardh Kumbh, Kanwar Mela [July-August] , Somvati Amavasya [June] etc. If you are going around Dusshehra, confirm beforehand as Har Ki Pairi is closed for cleaning the river bed for few days.
How to reach?
By Air: Nearest Airport is Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun [for details visit: www.makemytrip.com]. The airport is only 40 Kms away but it may take around 90 minutes to reach Haridwar in day time because of heavy traffic.
By Rail: Economical and hassle free option. Delhi is well connected but other destinations may not be. You might have to make reservations in advance [for queries visit: www.irctc.co.in]
By State Roadways/ Personal Vehicle: Good option but beware of the heavy traffic enroute. If you are coming by your own vehicle you may have to face parking issues especially if you have made reservations in the city.
Where to stay: Haridwar has multiple options from very economical Dharamshalas to plush hotels and resort. Search for the dharamshala of related city, sect or community and you will find it there. [for Hotels visit: www.makemytrip.com]. Personal advice: Wherever you stay, if you want to have a feel of Haridwar do wander in the back lanes and alleys.
Places to visit:
- Har Ki Pairi [or Pauri]. It is believed that the drop of nectar full during the churning of the ocean at the place called Brahma Kund ner to which Ganga Temple now stands. Beware of peoples asking for donations for the sacred ganga, Enjoy the ghats and the holy Ganga arti [Timings: 7 pm in summers and 5:45 pm in winters]. Be early if you wish to experience it from close.
If you are a hindu you may also pay a visit to your panda [Hindu Brahmins on the ghats] who are famous for maintaining hand written genealogies of hindu families who visited the place. They have been maintaining them for generations.
- Daksh/ Daksheshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Around 7 Kms from Haridwar, at Kankhal. Take local conveyance like a rickshaw or auto [tuk tuk] for convenience.
- Mata Chandi Devi & Mata Anjani Devi temples: Located upn Neel Parwat across river Ganga. Either take the steps to climb or use the trolley which costs Rs. 102 [Rs. 150 including Mansa Devi ropeway fare]. Timings: 6am to 7 pm. Avoid afternoon as the temple closes for 2 hours.
- Mansa Devi Temple: Located atop Bilwa temple.
- Bharat Mata Temple
Where to eat?
It is said that the best food/ sweets are available on the banks of Rover Ganges. Best street food joints are:
- Mohan Ji Puri Wale [For Puree Aloo]
- Kashyap Kachori Bhandar [For stuffed Kachoris]
- Bhagwati Puri Bhandaar [For puree Chhole]
- Mathura Wale Sweet Shop [For Gulab Jamuns and famous sweet samosas]
- Pandit Sevaram Doodh Bhandar [For milk in Kulhars, malai sweets and laddus etc]
Where to find them? Well! Go and explore. Enjoy Exploring!