Har Ki Pauri, famous as Brahm Kund, is considered the most sacred and popular site of Haridwar. It is the place from where the river Ganges enters into the plains after exiting the mountains. Har Ki Pauri was built by Vikramaditya, the famous king, in remembrance of his brother, Brithari, who used to meditate here on the banks of the Ganges river. According to one of the various legends associated with this place, lords Shiva and Vishnu appeared here during the Vedic period. The other legend says that Lord Brahma, also known as the god of creation, performed a ritual of sacrifice called yagna at this spot. There are footprints on the ghats, which are said to be of Lord Vishnu.
It is believed that taking a dip into the water of Har Ki Pauri washes off all the sins of an individual. Devotees in large numbers come to this place to perform rituals, such as mundan (shaving off the head) and upanayan (the initiation ritual), to name a few. In the span of every 12 years, the Kumbh Mela is held at the destination that is witnessed by several thousands of devotees.
Mansa Devi Temple, a popular religious site, is located at a distance of around 3 km from the city of Haridwar. The temple is dedicated to Mansa Devi, the brainchild of Saint Kashyap, who was a great saint in ancient Vedic time. The deity is the wife of Nag Vasuki, the king of serpents. The temple is perched on the crest of the Bilwa Parvat on the Shivalik Hills and has two idols of the deity. One of the idols has five arms and three mouths, while the other one features eight arms.
One of the 52 Shakti Peethas (the places of worship sanctified to the Hindu goddess Sati or Shakti), this temple is at the peak of the Siddha Peetha Triangle. The triangle is formed by the trio of Maya Devi, Chandi Devi and Mansa Devi temples. While visiting this temple, the devotees tie a thread around the sacred tree, praying the lord to fulfil their wishes. After the wish is fulfilled, it is necessary to untie the thread from the tree. Tourists can reach the temple by a cable car, which is popularly known as Devi Udankhatola.
Chandi Devi Temple, situated on top of the Neel Parvat in Haridwar, is one of the famed religious sites of the country. This temple is one of the 52 Shakti Peethas and was constructed by the erstwhile ruler of Kashmir in 1929. However, it is said that the idol of the deity present in the temple was installed by the great sage, Adi Shankaracharya, in the 8th century. According to a folklore, Neel Parvat is the place where Chandika Devi, Hindu goddess, rested for some time after killing the demon kings, Shumbh and Nishumbha.
To reach this temple, travellers can take autos, rickshaws, taxis and tongas from anywhere in Haridwar. They can also reach the place through a trekking route, which is about 3 km from Chandighat. Travelling by cable cars is also an interesting option and takes around 25 minutes.
Udan Khatola is the name of a ropeway that takes the devotees to the temples located on the hilltop. It is a faster and convenient way of reaching the temples as compared to walking or climbing. The starting point of these cable cars is in the vicinity of the Chandi Devi Temple.
Bharat Mata Mandir, popularly known as the Mother India Temple, is a noted religious site in Haridwar. This temple is devoted to Bharat Mata and was constructed by the famous religious guru, Swami Satyamitranand Giri. The late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, inaugurated this temple in 1983. This eight-storeyed temple is located at a height of 180 ft.
Each floor of the shrine is dedicated to different Hindu deities and freedom fighters. The most prominent amongst all is the idol of Bharat Mata on the first floor. The second floor features the Shoor Mandir, a tribute to the dedicated heroes of India while the third floor's Matru Mandir beautifully honours the great women of India.
The fourth floor is dedicated to the great Indian saints and the fifth floor displays the religions, history and beauty of different parts of India. Various forms and incarnations of Goddess Shakti and Lord Vishnu can be seen on the sixth and seventh floor respectively.
The eighth floor is a treat for both the nature enthusiasts and the spiritual souls as it holds a shrine of Lord Shiva from which one can witness an exceptional picturesque view of the Himalayas, Haridwar and Sapta Sarovar.
Moti Bazaar is a prominent shopping centre in Haridwar, which is located between Har-ki-Pauri and Upper Road. While taking a walk in this bazaar, travellers can buy Gangajal, the sacred water of the river Ganges, rudraksha or sacred beads, precious stones and vermillion. They can also shop for pickles, Ayurvedic medicines and images of various deities.
Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary was founded in 1977 and spreads over an area of 249 sq km. It is located 10 km away from Haridwar, on the banks of the river Ganges. In 1983, it was combined with the Motichur and Rajaji sanctuaries to form Rajaji National Park.
Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary is home to various animals, such as tigers, elephants, bears and small cats. Travellers can also spot a variety of beautiful birds in the sanctuary. The period from November to June is ideal to visit this sanctuary.
Vaishno Devi Temple in Haridwar is a recently built replica of the popular Vaishno Devi Temple situated in Jammu. The path towards the temple goes through various caves and tunnels similar to that of the original path leading to the Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu.
Sapt Rishi Ashram, situated at a distance of 5 km from Har Ki Pauri, is one of the renowned spiritual heritage sites in Haridwar. According to a Hindu folklore, this ashram was the meditating spot of the Saptarishis, the seven great sages from the Vedic period, namely Kashyap, Atri, Vashisht, Jamadagni, Gautam, Vishwamitra and Bharadwaja. The legends also say that the river Ganges divided herself into seven streams here, so that the sages could meditate without getting disturbed by the flow. This is the reason that the place is also known as Sapt Sarovar or Saptarishi Kund Kund. Further, the seven rivulets join up together to form a magnificent channel, which is known as the Neel Dhara.
Maya Devi Temple is a popular religious centre in Haridwar. It is one of the 52 Shakti Peethas, the places of devotion sanctified to the Hindu goddess Sati or Shakti. The temple is devoted to the Hindu deity Adhisthatri and its history dates back to the 11th century.
Legend has it that Goddess Sati, wife of the Hindu Lord Shiva, sacrificed her life after her father insulted her husband. Immersed in sorrow, Lord Shiva decided to take her dead body to the Kailash Parvat. He started to dance the tandav dance – the dance of destruction.
While doing so, parts of her body fell at different places. All the spots where her body parts dropped became a Shakti Peetha. It is believed that Sati’s naval and heart fell on the place where this temple stands today. The temple is frequented by numerous devotees to offer prayers to the deity.
Kushavarta Ghat was built by a Maratha Queen, Ahilyabai Holkar. Here, people perform 'Shraadh’ ritual for the peace of the souls of their dear ones. It is believed that Dattatreya, a great saint from the ancient time, used to meditate here. According to legends, Dattatreya performed his penance here by standing on just one foot for around thousand years.
Vishnu Ghat is one of the most sacred and renowned spiritual sites located in Haridwar. It is the place where the Hindu Lord Vishnu once took a bath. It is believed that taking a dip in the water of this ghat washes all the misdeeds of a human being.
Gau Ghat is one of the most revered places in Haridwar. The ghat got this name because people come here to wash their sins of slaughtering cows. This is also a place where people pray for the peace of departed souls. The ashes of some of the prominent people, such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi were scattered into this ghat.
Kamraj ki Kali Temple is a popular shrine situated at a distance of about 7 km from Haridwar Railway Station. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Kali, who is regarded as the Goddess of time and change and also known as the mother of destruction and the slayer of demons.
Gaurishankar Mahadev Temple, dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva, is one of the famous shrines in Haridwar. This temple is situated close to the Chandi Devi Temple. According to a folklore, people can get their wishes fulfilled by praying here with devotion.