The gushing waters of the magnificient Ganga river the mother of all rivers to Hindus tells the tale of time and God ,and descends from its snowy heights in the Himalayas to enter the plains in this place called Haridwar .
One of the oldest described places of inhabitation by humans this holy town teems with ashrams and is filled with mendicants who bustle along its crowded narrow streets along with the devoted ,the rickshaw pullers ,the lorries carrying goods , the cows cud chewing with no care in the world ,and above all the quite river foaming in its silver trinklets tumbling from the high mountains for a distance of 237 km to reach the hot plains in the summer and icy cold fields in the winter .
One of the four places where once in 12 years the greatest congregration of humans gather in one place in the world and one that can be seen even from space the Kumbh mela take place here ,every four years
it alternates between Ujjain ,Prayag ( allahabad ) and Nasikh .
We were fortunate to visit the Mahakumbh mela in Allahabad once .( http://hariwrite.blogspot.com/2013/02/maha-kumbh-mela.html )
it is said the drops of Amruth or divine ambrosia fell on these four places while being carried by the celestial bird Garuda .
Hari is name of Vishnu and Dwar in hindi is opening or way to
Hara is Siva
hence its important for Vaishanavites and Sahiviites
its way to Vishnus Bhadrinath and Shivas Kailas .
Its also the starting point for Char dhaam which isa pilgrimage to Gangotri from where high above in himalayas from a cave called Gaumukh the Ganga gushes forth perenially ,Yamunotri ( origin of Yamuna ) ,Kedarnath the ancient shiva temple up in the dizzy Himalayan ranges , or Bhadrinath the abode of Vishnu ,
again we were lucky to have visited all these places except Gangotri which due to a road rokho we couldnt go to .
Haridwars teeming banks of the Ganga is a microcosm of India ,
the famous Har Ki Pauri Ghat has the Brahma Kund where the Amruth fell and is a sacred place for ritualistic bathing .
Though we did not have a bath we did wash our face in the freezing waters as it was crowded for the evening .
Araathi is a ceremony every day at dusk where river Ganga is worshipped .
,all along the bank people sat with bated breath watching the etheral spectacle of priests lighting huge chandelier like arathis worshipping the river Godess and thousands of earthen wicks float majestically in the river thier twinkling into the horizon the very explanation of life itself .
one day we all twinkle our way to non existence .
Haridwar in the past was also called as Mayapuri ,Gangadhwara ,Kapilstan etc.
Its also known as the home of Godess Sati and her father king Dhaksha .
Ayodhya ,Mathura ,Maya ,Khasi ,Kanchi ,Avantika and Dwaraka are the seven holy places .
It is referred to in ancient Hindu scriptures and epics like Mahabharatha .
Huan Tseng the Chinese traveller described it when he came to India in 629 AD .
it was conqured in 1336 by Timur long the Central asian conqueror .
Guru Nank was supposed to have visited Haridwar on Baishaki day in 1504 AD and bathed in the famous Kushawart Ghat and the event is commemrated by a Gurudwara called Gurudwara Nanakwara .
Pandas or priests of Haridwar are known for maintaining exact genology records of many Hindu familes known as Vahis for many generations at times going back upto seven generations updating them meticulously on every visit of any member of the family to Haridwar .
King Akbar was supposed to have drank water of the Ganges and called it as the waters of immortality .
its one of the oldest living cities in the world today .
its at a height of 314 meters in Uttarkhand state
Its most sacred Ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya in 1st century BC which is today called Har Ki Pauri .
On the eastern banks of Ganga is the Chandi Devi temple atop the Neel parvat or blue mountain ,its believed the main statue in the temple was consecrated by Adi Shankara in 8 th century AD ,
a ropeway goes up the 3km way to the temple .
on top of Bilwa parvat is another famous temple the Mnasa devi temple ..
The other famous and ancient temple is the Maya devi temple .
A temple to dhaksa called Dhaksha mahadev temple alos exists .
Piran kaliyar Sahrif ibuilt by Ibrahim lodi is a dargha for a sufi saint of Chisti order Sabir kaliyari .
There is a bird sanctuary called Neel Dhara pakshi vihar .
There isa tank about a km from Har ki pauri called Bhim Goda where Bhima drew water from the rocks here by thrusting his knees or Goda to the very ground for the pandavas to drink when travelling to the Himalayas .
Haridwar also hosts plenty of Ashrams or religious orders with impressive buildings works of art and places of stay .
Haridwar has excellent roads from several places reaching it and trains too at Haridwar railway station and the nearest airport is Jolly Grant at Dehradun
There is aqaiunt clock tower near Har ki pawri.
We were taken right where the arathi would take place as a group because the young Swamiji who led our group was a frequent raveller and was greatly repsected .
As we sat on the cool steps on the banks of the great river and as the pale sun sank into the far horizon a thousand glittering diyas flickered into the gushing waters of the river .
the banks came alive with loud cymbals as the huge arathis were lit and puja done with great cries from the devotees and the place took an etheral image beyond the mundane and we were lost to the hypnosis of the infinite .
it was an experience unlike any