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Haridwar : A Sacred City on the Banks of the Ganges

Haridwar, also known as Mayapuri in ancient times, is a city nestled in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, India. With a population of 228,832 as of 2011, it stands as the second-largest city in the state and the largest within the district. This holy city is perched on the right bank of the Ganges river, cradled at the foothills of the Shivalik ranges. Let us delve into the rich tapestry of Haridwar, a place that resonates with spirituality, tradition, and cultural vibrancy.

The Spiritual Heartbeat

Kumbha Mela: A Celestial Gathering

One of the most significant events in Haridwar is the Kumbha Mela, a grand spectacle celebrated every 12 years. During this auspicious occasion, millions of pilgrims, devotees, and curious tourists converge in Haridwar to partake in ritualistic bathing on the banks of the Ganges. The belief is that this sacred dip washes away sins and paves the way for moksha (liberation). According to ancient legends, Haridwar, along with Ujjain, Nashik, and Prayag, witnessed the accidental spillage of drops of amrita (the elixir of immortality) from a celestial pitcher carried by the divine bird Garuda during the Samudra Manthana (churning of the ocean of milk). The spot where the amrita fell is now known as Brahma Kund, situated at Har ki Pauri, the most revered ghat in Haridwar.

Kanwar Pilgrimage

Haridwar is the primary center for the Kanwar pilgrimage, a tradition where devotees collect sacred water from the Ganges and carry it across hundreds of miles to offer it at various Shiva shrines. This arduous journey symbolizes devotion and reverence for Lord Shiva.

Beyond Spirituality

Industrial Development

While Haridwar’s spiritual significance remains paramount, the city is also evolving industrially. The State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand (SIDCUL) has established a fast-developing industrial estate here. Additionally, the nearby township of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and its affiliated ancillaries contribute to the city’s growth.

Cultural Kaleidoscope

Haridwar is not just about temples and rituals; it’s a vibrant tapestry of Indian culture. In sacred texts, it has been referred to as Kapilsthan, Gangadwar, and Mayapuri. The city pulsates with narrow lanes, ashrams, and bustling markets. It serves as a gateway to the Chota Char Dham, comprising the four principal pilgrim destinations in Uttarakhand.

Geographical Context

Haridwar district spans an area of approximately 2,360 square kilometers and lies in the southwestern part of Uttarakhand. The city itself sits at an elevation of 314 meters (1,030 feet) above sea level, nestled between the Shivalik Hills to the north and northeast, and the mighty Ganges River to the south.


Haridwar, with its ancient roots and modern aspirations, continues to draw seekers, wanderers, and the faithful. As the Ganges flows through its heart, Haridwar remains a timeless abode where spirituality and life intersect, leaving an indelible mark on all who visit.

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