Haridwar Dham


Haridwar is an important pilgrimage city 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 Indo-Gangetic Plains of North India for the first time at Haridwar, which gave the city its ancient name, Gangadwára.

Haridwar is regarded as one of the seven holiest places to Hindus  According to the Samudra manthan, Haridwar along with Ujjain, Nasik and Allahabad is one of four sites where drops of Amrit, the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilled over from the pitcher while being carried by the celestial bird Garuda. This is manifested in the Kumbha Mela being celebrated every 3 years in one of the 4 places, and thus every 12 years in Haridwar. Amidst the Kumbha Mela, millions of pilgrims, devotees, and tourists congregate in Haridwar to perform ritualistic bathing on the banks of the river Ganga to wash away their sins to attain Moksha. Brahma Kund, the spot where the Amrit fell, is located at Har ki Pauri (literally, "footsteps of the Lord") and is considered to be the most sacred ghat of Haridwar. Haridwar is the headquarters and the largest city of the district.

Etymology
In Sanskrit, Haridwar stands for Dwara of Hari or Gateway to God, where 'Hari' means God and 'dwar' means gate. In ancient times, the city was referred to as Gangadwára the place where the Ganges descends to the plains.

Among Seven Holy Cities of India
Moreover, Haridwar is one of seven most holy places for Hindus in India where Varanasi is considered as the holiest of the seven holy cities.
Ayodhyā Mathurā Māyā Kāsi Kāñchī Avantikā I
Purī Dvārāvatī chaiva saptaitā moksadāyikāh II Garuḍa Purāṇa I XVI .14

A Kṣetra is a sacred ground, a field of active power, a place where Moksha, final release can be obtained. The Garuda Purana enumerates seven cities as giver of Moksha, They are Ayodhya, Mathura, Māyā, Kāsi, Kāñchī, Avantikā and Dvārāvatī.

History
Prince Bhagirath in penance for the salvation of 60,000 of his ancestors.
A paradise for nature lovers, Haridwar presents a kaleidoscope of Indian culture and civilization. In the scriptures it has been variously mentioned as Kapilsthan, Gangadwar and Mayapuri. It is also an entry point to the Char Dham (the four main centers of pilgrimage in Uttarakhand viz, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri), hence, Shaivaites (followers of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavites (followers of Lord Vishnu) call this place Hardwar and Haridwar respectively, corresponding to Har being Shiv and Hari being Vishnu.

In the Vanaparva of the Mahabharat, where sage Dhaumya tells Yudhisthira about the tirthas of India, Gangadwar, i.e., Haridwar and Kankhal, have been referred to, the text also mentions that Agastya Rishi did penance here, with the help of his wife, Lopamudra (the princess of Vidharba).

Sage Kapila is said to have an ashram here giving it, its ancient name, Kapila or Kapilastan.

The legendary King, Bhagirath, the great-grandson of the Suryavanshi King Sagar (an ancestor of Rama),  is said to have brought the river Ganga down from heaven, through years of penance in Satya Yuga, for the salvation of 60,000 of his ancestors from the curse of the saint Kapila, a tradition continued by thousands of devout Hindus, who brings the ashes of their departed family members, in hope of their salvation. Lord Vishnu is said to have left his footprint on the stone that is set in the upper wall of Har-Ki-Pauri, where the Holy Ganga touches it at all times.

Haridwar came under the rule of the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE), and later under the Kushan Empire (c. 1st–3rd centuries). Archaeological findings have proved that terra cotta culture dating between 1700 BCE and 1200 BCE existed in this region. First modern era written evidence of Haridwar is found in the accounts of a Chinese traveller, Huan Tsang, who visited India in 629 AD. during the reign of King Harshavardhan (590–647) records Haridwar as 'Mo-yu-lo', the remains of which still exist at Mayapur, a little to the south of the modern town. Among the ruins are a fort and three temples, decorated with broken stone sculptures, he also mentions the presence of a temple, north of Mo-yu-lo called 'Gangadwara', Gateway of the Ganga.

The city was also invaded by Timur Lang (1336–1405), a Turkish invader on January 13, 1399. During his visit to Haridwar, first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak (1469–1539) bathed at 'Kushwan Ghat', wherein the famous, 'watering the crops' episode took place  his visit is today commemorated by a gurudwara (Gurudwara Nanakwara), according to two Sikh Janamsakhis, this visit took place on the Baisakhi day in 1504 AD, he later also visited Kankhal enroute to Kotdwara in Garhwal. Pandas of the Haridwar have been known to keep genealogy records of most of the Hindu population. Known as vahis, these records are updated on each visit to the city, & are a repository of vast family trees of family in North India.

Geography and climate
Haridwar is one of the first towns where Ganga emerges from the mountains to touch the plains. The water in the river Ganges is mostly clear and generally cold, except in the rainy season, during which soil from the upper regions flows down into it. Haridwar district, covering an area of about 2360 km², is in the southwestern part of Uttarakhand state of India. Haridwar is situated at height of 314 metres from the sea level, between Shivalik Hills in the North and Northeast and Ganga River in the South.

  • Climate   - Temperatures:      Summers: 25 °C - 44 °C      Winters: 6°C - 24 °C
Festivals
Ganga Dashara, at Haridwar being a place of intense religious significance, Haridwar also Hosts several religious festivals throughout the year; popular among them are the Kavad Mela, Somvati Amavasya Mela, Ganga Dashara, Gughal Mela, in which around 20-25 lacs (2-2.5 million) people take part.

 Apart from this, there is the Kumbh Mela which takes place once in every twelve years, when the planet Jupiter (Brihaspati) comes into the sign Aquarius (Kumbha). First written evidence of the Kumbha Mela can be found in the accounts of Chinese traveller, Huan Tsang or Xuanzang (602 - 664 A.D.) who visited India in 629 AD. According to The Imperial Gazetteer of India, an outbreak of cholera occurred at the 1892 Mela at Haridwar, which lead to the rapid improvement of mela arrangement by the authorities and the formation of 'Haridwar Improvement Society', and in 1903 about 400,000 people attended the fair. A stampede took place near Har-ki-Pauri, during the Kumbh Mela in 1980s, in which 600 people were killed and scores injured. The 2010 Maha Kumbh Mela saw over 80 million pilgrims visiting this city, to take a dip in the holy river, Ganga.













HH Navayogendra
Swamiji Maharaj
Srila Prabhupada Lord Chaitanya Lord Krishna
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