The “Gateway to God” is an energetic city and pilgrim center blessed with magnificent temples, colorful festivals and striking Himalayan scenery.
Awash with striking temples and mystical bathing ghats, Haridwar draws religious pilgrims and curious travelers. Participate in extravagant festivals, walk through serpentine bazaars and discover breathtaking natural landscapes. Haridwar is one of India’s seven holiest cities. Its name means Gateway to God. The city straddles the sacred Ganges River in the Himalayan foothills.
Haridwar’s heart is Har Ki Pauri, a hectic yet humble bathing ghat where the Ganges Canal and Ganges River meet. Watch pandits (Hindu priests), pilgrims and sadhus (holy men) bathe in the river’s spiritually cleansing water. Arrive at dusk for the entrancing Ganga aarti (river worship ceremony), when the sounds of mantra fill the air and candlelit lamps illuminate the river. Find similar activities at Birla Ghat, Gau Ghat and Vishnu Ghat.
Witness more spiritual devotion at Haridwar’s resplendent temples. Stroll along the canal banks to the 11th-century Maya Devi Temple. Hike with pilgrims to hilltop Mansa Devi Temple and ride a scenic cable car to Chandi Devi Temple. Take an auto-rickshaw to Bharat Mandir, a multilevel temple full of statues of revered deities. Visit the Daksh Prajapati Temple Complex in nearby Kankhal district.
Throughout the year, festivals light up the river and temples. These include March’s flamboyant Holi (Festival of Colors), June’s Ganga Dussehra and November’s Kartik Poornima. The most famous of all is Kumbh Mela, which takes place once every 12 years and welcomes thousands of colorfully dressed sadhus.
Browse the stalls of Bara Bazar and Moti Bazar to purchase religious paraphernalia, handicrafts and ayurveda medicines. Alternatively, enjoy family-friendly fun at Crystal World, an amusement park with roller coasters, swimming pools and waterslides.
Located in Uttarakhand state, Haridwar is easily reachable via trains from major Indian destinations such as Amritsar, Chennai, New Delhi and Varanasi. Get around central Haridwar on foot to truly experience the city’s lively atmosphere. Otherwise, use affordable auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws. Many people visit Haridwar before traveling to Rishikesh. Take the opportunity to join a wildlife safari in Rajaji National Park.