Yesterday we visited the west end of India, Gujarat, Somnath, Today we travel to one of the northern most states of the country, Uttarakhand, the holy state where we are going to visit Haridwar Rishikesh and the Gods and Goddesses of Haridwar Rishikesh. Haridwar and Rishikesh areone of the many picturesque regions of the country and is a treat for connoisseurs of photography because of the beauty of River Ganges. The twin towns are one of the most frequently places visited by tourists outside the country and within the country as well!
Haridwar, also spelled Hardwar, is an ancient city and municipality in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, India. The River Ganga, after flowing for 253 kilometres (157 mi) from its source at Gaumukh at the edge of the Gangotri Glacier, enters the Gangetic Plain for the first time at Haridwar, which gave the city its ancient name, Gangadwára.
Hari means “Lord Vishnu“. So, Haridwar stands for “The Gateway to Lord Vishnu”. In order to reach Badrinath, one of the four Char Dhams, with a temple of Lord Vishnu, Haridwar is a typical place to start a pilgrim’s journey. Therefore, the name Haridwar.
On the other hand, in Sanskrit, Hara means “Lord Shiva” and Dwara means “gate” or “gateway”. Hence, Hardwar stands for “Gateway to Lord Shiva”. Hardwar has been a typical place to start a pilgrim’s journey in order to reach Mount Kailash, the eternal abode of Lord Shiva, Kedarnath, the northernmost Jyotirlinga and one of the sites of the smaller Char Dham pilgrimage circuit and Gaumukh, the source of River Ganga. Har ki Pauri or footsteps of Lord Shiva is considered the most sacred site in Hardwar.
In Hindu traditions, the ‘Panch Tirth‘ (Five Pilgrimages) within Haridwar, are “Gangadwar” (Har ki Pauri), Kushawart (Ghat in Kankhal), Bilwa Tirtha (Mansa Devi Temple) and Neel Parvat (Chandi Devi Temple). There are several other temples and ashrams located in and around the city. Alcohol and non-vegetarian food is not permitted in Haridwar.
Haridwar is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in the country. I just mention some of the notable places of interest:
- Har ki Pauri
- Chandi Devi Temple, Haridwar
- Mansa Devi Temple, Haridwar
- Maya Devi Temple, Haridwar
- Daksheswara Mahadev Temple
- Bharat Mata Mandir etc.
Rishikesh, also known as Hrishikesh is in Dehradun district of the Indian state Uttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as the “Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas” and “Yoga Capital of the World“. It lies approximately 25 km (16 mi) north of the city Haridwar and 43 km (27 mi) southeast of the state capital Dehradun. It is known as the pilgrimage town and regarded as one of the holiest places to Hindus. Hindu sages and saints have visited Rishikesh since ancient times to meditate in search of higher knowledge.
In September 2015, the Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma announced that Rishikesh and Haridwar will be the first in India to be given the title of “twin national heritage cities”. Due to the religious significance of the place, non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly prohibited in Rishikesh.
Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the asura king of Lanka; and Lakshmana, his younger brother, crossed the river Ganges, at a point, where the present ‘Lakshman Jhula‘ (लक्ष्मण झूला) bridge stands today, using a jute rope bridge.