Haridwar: Where God Resides
“We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.”
If there is one place on Earth that brings you closest to God, it is the holy land of Haridwar. It is said that in Haridwar you can find God everywhere: in the temples, on the streets, and even in the eyes of the lakhs of devotees. It is this presence of God that makes this place the holiest of all. Haridwar, literally the “Gateway to God”, is the place which marks the beginning of River Ganga’s journey through the plains. Haridwar is also the gateway to some of the most sacred pilgrimage sites of the Hindus.
Located in the southwestern part of Uttarakhand amidst the Shivalik Hills, Haridwar is the most important Shaktipeeth for the Hindus. Lakhs of devotees come here throughout the year to take the holy dip in the Ganga River. As a matter of faith, a dip in the holy waters of Ganga washes away all the past sins, purifies the soul and paves way for moksha or the ultimate salvation. Legend has it that Haridwar is one of the four spots where the drops of amrit, the elixir of immortality, fell from the pitcher which was being carried by the heavenly bird Garuda. Blessed by the Trinity of Hindu Mythology, this place is also known as the Abode of Gods.
Haridwar, being the gateway for attaining salvation, is a place where the Hindus perform funeral rites. As part of Hindu tradition, the ashes of the deceased are collected and immersed in the holy waters of Ganga. According to popular belief, this is done so that the spirits of the kins rest in peace and attain salvation. Several other ceremonies, like the thread and the tonsuring ceremony, are also carried out at the main ghat, which is also known as the Har-ki-Pauri. Therefore, Haridwar holds supreme importance in the lives of all the Hindus.
Besides the aura of divinity, Haridwar manifests two major activities with great significance throughout the country. This holy land happens to be one of the four pilgrimage sites where the Maha Kumbh Mela is held once in 12 years. Millions of devotees and tourists congregate at this holy place to perform the ritualistic bath in the river Ganga. Haridwar not only purifies the soul and mind but also helps in healing of the body. This holy site is the centre of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of medicine and herbal remedies popular all over the world for treating the most severe ailments, including cancer.
With its location in the hilly terrain, Haridwar has the perfect weather throughout the year. Thus, it is popularly known as the destination of all seasons. The water of the Ganga river is crystal-clear here, embellishing the beauty of the holy site. The best time to feel the sanctity of this place is during the evening aarti, when the light of the several floating diyas illuminates the entire ghat, offering a heavenly view to the visitors. Haridwar is not just a travel destination; it is much beyond that. The supreme divinity of this place, the undying faith and devotion of the pilgrims, and the presence of God, give a special pedestal to Haridwar.