Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Uttarakhand State ( Haridwar and Rishikesh ) - 2



































































































Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in  Uttarakhand State







Haridwar – Gateway to Heaven




Haridwar   (also spelled Hardwar, Hindi: हरिद्वार) is an important pilgrimage city and municipality in the Haridwar district of Uttarakhand, India. The River Ganges, 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,[3] 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 Ganges 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. Today, the city is developing beyond its religious importance, with the fast developing industrial estate of State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand (SIDCUL),  and the close by township of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited in Ranipur, Uttarakhand as well as its affiliated ancillaries.

Etymology

The name of the town has two spellings: Haridwar and Hardwar. Both of these names have their own matter.
In Sanskrit, Hari means "Lord Vishnu" and dwar means "gate" or "gateway".[3][5] So, Haridwar stands for "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.
In Sanskrit, Har means "Lord Shiva". Hence, Hardwar stands for "Gateway to Lord Shiva". in order to reach Kedarnath, one of the Chota Char Dhams with a temple of Lord Shiva, Haridwar is a typical place to start a pilgrim's journey.
Haridwar is also known as the home of Devi Sati and the palace of her father Daksha. In ancient times, the town was referred to as Gangadwára (गंगाद्वार), the place where the Ganges descends to the plains.

Seven holy places

Haridwar is one of the seven most holy Hindu places in India, with Varanasi usually considered the holiest.

Ayodhyā Mathurā Māyā Kāsi Kāñchī Avantikā I
Purī Dvārāvatī chaiva saptaitā moksadāyikāh II - Garua Purāa I XVI .14

A Ketra is a sacred ground,  a field of active power, a place where Moksha, final release can be obtained. The Garua Purāa enumerates seven cities as giver of Moksha. These are Ayodhya, Mathura, Puri, Māyā, Kāsi, Kāñchī, Avantikā and Dvārāvatī.

History

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 Ganges 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 Ganges touches it at all times.

Haridwar from opposite bank of the Ganges, 1866
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 Ganges.
"O Yudhishthira, the spot where Ganga rusheth past, cleaving the foremost of mountains which is frequented by Gandharvas and Yakshas and Rakshasas and Apsaras, and inhabited by hunters, and Kinnaras, is called Gangadwara (Haridwar). O King, Sanatkumara regardeth that spot visited by Brahmarshis, as also the Tirtha Kanakhala (that is near to it), as sacred.
-- The Mahabharata, Vana Parva: Tirtha-yatra Parva: Section X

Geography and climate


Neel Dhara Bird Sanctuary at the main Ganges Canal, before Bhimgoda Barrage, also showing signs of an ancient port.

Haridwar from Chilla Range, Rajaji National Park
the Ganges 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.
The river Ganges flows in a series of channels separated from each other called aits, most of which are well wooded. Other minor seasonal streams are Ranipur Rao, Pathri Rao, Rawii Rao, Harnaui Rao, Begam Nadi etc.  A large part of the district is forested, and Rajaji National Park is within the bounds of the district, making it an ideal destination for wildlife and adventure lovers. Rajaji is accessible through different gates; the Ramgarh Gate and Mohand Gate are within 25 km of Dehradun, while the Motichur, Ranipur and Chilla Gates are just about 9 km from Haridwar. Kunao Gate is 6 km from Rishikesh, and Laldhang gate is 25 km from Kotdwara.
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 the Ganges River in the South

Hindu genealogy registers at Haridwar

Something that is not well known today to Indians and to those settled abroad, in an ancient custom detailed family genealogies of Hindu families for the past several generations are kept by professional Hindu Brahmin Pandits, popularly known as Pandas, at the Hindu holy city of Haridwar in hand written registers passed down to them over generations by their Pandit ancestors which are classified according to original districts and villages of ones ancestors, with special designated Pandit families being in charge of designated district registers, even for cases where ancestral districts and villages that have been left behind in Pakistan after Partition of India with Hindus having to migrate to India. In several cases present day decedents are now Sikhs and many maybe Muslims or even Christians. It is common for one to find details of up to, or even more than, ones seven past generations in these genealogy registers kept by the Pandas of Haridwar.
For centuries when Hindu ancestors visited the holy town of Haridwar for any purpose which may have mostly been for pilgrimage purposes or/and for cremation of their dead or for immersion of ashes and bones of their kin after cremation into the waters of the holy river Ganges as required by Hindu religious custom, it has been an ancient custom to go to the Pandit who is in charge of ones family register and update the family's genealogical family tree with details of all marriages, births and deaths from ones extended joint family.
In present day India people visiting Haridwar are dumbfounded when Pundits out of the blue solicit them to come and update their very own ancestral genealogical family tree, news travels like wildfire among the Pandits with ones family's designated Pandit being quickly notified of ones visit. Nowadays with Hindu joint family system having broken down with people preferring more nuclear families, record keeping Pandits prefer visitors to Haridwar to come prepared after getting in touch with all of ones extended family and bringing all relevant details regarding ones ancestral district and village, names of grand parents and great grand parents and marriages, births and deaths that have occurred in the extended family, even with as much details as possible of the families married into. A visiting family member is required to personally sign the family genealogical register furnished by ones Family Panda after updating it for future family visitors and generations to see and to authenticate the updated entries, friends and other family members accompanying on the visit may also be requested to sign as witnesses. However it is preferable to visit one's family pandas before immerson of ashes of one's kin as they will help properly in this rituals.

Places of interest

In Hindu traditions, the 'Panch Tirth' (Five Pilgrimages) within Haridwar, are Gangadwara (Har ki Pauri), Kushwart (Ghat in Kankhal), Bilwa Teerth (Mansa Devi Temple) and Neel Parvat (Chandi Devi Temple).[41][42] There are several other temples and ashrams located in and around the city. Also, alcohol and non-vegetarian food is not permitted in Haridwar.

Har ki Pauri

Main article: Har ki Pauri
This sacred Ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya (1st century BC) in memory of his brother Bhrithari. It is believed that Bhrithari came to Haridwar and meditated on the banks of the holy Ganges. When he died, his brother constructed a Ghat in his name, which later came to be known as Har-Ki-Pauri. The most sacred ghat within Har-ki-Pauri is Brahmakund. The evening prayer(Aarti) at dusk offered to Goddess Ganga at Har-Ki-Pauri (steps of God Hara or Shiva) is an enchanting experience for any visitor. A spectacle of sound and colour is seen when, after the ceremony, pilgrims float diyas (floral floats with lamps) and incense on the river, commemorating their deceased ancestors. Thousands of people from all around the world do make a point to attend this prayer on their visit to Haridwar. A majority of present ghats were largely developed in the 1800s.

Chandi Devi Temple


The temple is dedicated to Goddess Chandi, who sits atop the 'Neel Parvat' on the eastern bank of the river Ganges. It was constructed in 1929 A.D. by the king of Kashmir, Suchat Singh. Skanda Purana mentions a legend, in which Chanda-Munda, the Army Chief of a local Demon Kings Shumbh and Nishumbha were killed by goddess Chandi here, after which the place got the name Chandi Devi. It is believed that the main statue was established by the Adi Shankracharya in 8th century A.D. The temple is a 3 km trek from Chandighat and can also be reached through a ropeway.

Mansa Devi Temple


Situated at the top of Bilwa Parwat, the temple of Goddess Mansa Devi, literally meaning the Goddess who fulfills desires (Mansa), is a popular tourist destination, especially because of the cable cars, which offer a picturesque view of the entire city. The main temple houses two idols of the Goddess, one with three mouths and five arms, while the other one has eight arms.

Maya Devi Temple


Dating to the 11th century, this ancient temple of Maya Devi, the Adhisthatri deity of Hardwar,  is considered one of the Siddhapethas and is said to be the place where the heart and navel of Goddess Sati had fallen. It is one of few ancient temples still standing in Haridwar, along with Narayani Shila temple and Bhairav Temple.

Kankhal


The ancient temple of Daksha Mahadev also known as Daksheswara Mahadev Temple, is situated in the south Kankhal town. According to Hindu texts, King Daksha Prajapati, father of Dakshayani, Lord Shiva's first wife, performed a yagna, to which he deliberately did not invite Lord Shiva. When he arrived uninvited, he was further insulted by the king, seeing which Sati felt infuriated and self-immolated herself in the yagna kund. King Daksha was later killed by the demon Virabhadra, born out of Shiva's anger. Later the king was brought to life and given a goat's head by Shiva. Daksha Mahadev temple is a tribute to this legend.
Sati Kund, another well-known mythological heritage worth a visit is situated in the Kankhal. Legend has it that Sati immolated herself in this kund.

Piran Kaliyar

Built by Ibrahim Lodhi, a ruler of Delhi,  this 'Dargah' of Hazrat Alauddin Sabir Kaliyari, a 13th century, Sufi Saint of Chishti Order (also known as Sarkar Sabir Pak), in Kaliyar village, 7 km. from Roorkee, is a living example of religious harmony in India, visited by devotees from all over the world, during the annual 'Urs' festival, which is celebrated from 1 st day of sighting the moon to 16th day of Rabi al-awwal month, in the Islamic calendar.

Neel Dhara Pakshi Vihar

This Bird Sanctuary is situated on the main Ganges river, or Neel Dhara, at the Bhimgoda Barrage, it is a paradise for bird watchers and home to many migratory birds during the winter season.

Bhimgoda Tank

This tank is situated at a distance of about 1 km from Har ki Pauri. It is said that while Pandavas were going to Himalayas through Haridwar, prince Bhima drew water from the rocks here by thrusting his knee (goda), to the very ground.

Doodhadhari Barfani Temple

Part of the ashram of Doodhadhari Barfani Baba, this temple complex in white marble is one of most beautiful temples in Haridwar, especially the temples of Rama-Sita and Hanuman.

Sureshvari Devi Temple

Temple of Goddess Sureshwari, situated in midst of beautiful Rajaji National Park. Serene and religious makes this temple abode of worshipers, saints etc. Located at outskirts of Haridwar in Ranipur and permission from forest rangers is necessary.

Pawan Dham

A modern temple, made entirely of glass pieces, Pawan Dham is now a popular tourist destination. The temple complex was constructed by the effort of Swami Vedantanand Ji Maharaj and the institute located there is growing under the leadership of Swami SahajPrakash Ji Maharaj. People from Moga in Punjab have put considerable efforts and money to erect this place.

Bharat Mata Mandir

Bharat Mata Mandir is a multi-storey temple dedicated to Bharat Mata (Mother India). Bharat Mata Mandir was inaugurated on 15 May 1983 by Indira Gandhi on the banks of the river Ganges. It is situated adjacent to the Smanvaya Ashram, and stands eight stories tall to a height of 180 feet (55 m). Each floor depicts an era in the Indian history, from the days of Ramayan , until India's independence.
On the first floor is the statue of Bharat Mata. The second floor, Shoor Mandir, is dedicated to the well renowned heroes of India. The third floor Matru Mandir is dedicated to the achievements of India’s revered women, such as Meera Bai, Savitri, Maitri etc. The great saints from various religions, including Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism are featured on the fourth floor Sant Mandir. The assembly hall with walls depicting symbolic coexistence of all religions practiced in India and paintings portraying history and beauty in various provinces, is situated on the fifth floor. The various forms of the Goddess of Shakti can be seen on the sixth floor, whilst the seventh floor is devoted to all incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The eighth floor holds the shrine of Lord Shiva from which devotees can gain a panoramic view of Himalayas, Haridwar, and the splendour of the entire campus of Sapta Sarovar.
The temple was built under the former Shankaracharya Maha-Mandleshwar Swami Satyamitranand Giriji Maharaj. Since the inception of the Swami Satyamitranand foundation in 1998, several other branches have been opened, namely in Renukut, Jabalpur, Jodhpur, Indore, and Ahmedabad.

Jairam Ashram

Famous for its diorama exhibition, and a massive white statue depicting the famous Samudra manthan episode, a must-see for any visitor.

Sapt Rishi Ashram and Sapt Sarovar

A picturesque place near Haridwar, where seven great sages or Saptarishis, namely Kashyapa, Vashisht, Atri, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gautam, said to have meditated. The Ganges split herself into seven currents at this place so that the Rishis would not be disturbed by the flow.

Parad Shivling

Situated in Harihar Ashram, Kankhal. Parad Shivling (Mercury Shivling) weighing about 150 kg and Rudraksha tree are the main attractions here.

Ramanand Ashram

Situated in shravan nath nagar of the town near railway station, this is the main ashram of Ramanand Sampraday in Haridwar. Mahant Bhagwan Das is the chief of this ashram.

Anandamayi Maa Ashram

Situated in Kankhal, one of five sub-cities of Haridwar, the ashram houses the samadhi shrine of Sri Anandamoyi Ma (1896–1982), a noted saint of India.

Shantikunj

Shantikunj is the headquarter of famous spiritual and social organisation All World Gayatri Pariwar (AWGP) established by Pt Shriram Sharma Acharya. Its located at a distance of 6 Kilometers from Haridwar railway station towards Rishikesh/Dehradun on NH58. At the bank of the holy Ganges and between the Shivalik ranges of the Himalayas, its also a place of attraction for tourists as well as seekers of spiritual guidance.

Patanjali Yogpeeth (Trust)

Patanjali Yogpeeth is situated in Haridwar - Delhi Highway. This is a yoga institution and research center of Swami Ramdev. Every day thousands of people come here for yoga and other purposes. This is one of the best places in Haridwar to see.

Transport

Haridwar is headquarters of Haridwar district and it has good connectivity with the other towns of the district and the state.

Road

National Highway 58, between Delhi and Mana Pass passes through Haridwar connecting it with Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzzafarnagar, Roorkee and Badrinath and National Highway 74 originating from Haridwar connects it with Kashipur, Kichha, Nagina, Pilibhit and Bareilly.

Rail

The Haridwar Railway Station located in Haridwar is under the control of the Northern Railway zone of the Indian Railways. It has direct links the major cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Indore, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram but it lacks direct connectivity to major cities of Central India namely Jabalpur, Bhopal, Gwalior and Nagpur.

Air

The nearest domestic airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun which is a located 35 km from Haridwar. Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi is the nearest International Airport.

  Mela



The ritual



Every twelfth year, which the Hindus call Kumbha, the planet Jupiter enters the constellation of Aquarius, and this event is considered very propitious for the beginning of the religious fair;  for which this day is accordingly fixed by the astrologers of the pagodas. This gathering attracts the representatives of all sects, as I said before, from princes and maharajas down to the last fakir. The former come for the sake of religious discussions; the latter, simply to plunge into the waters of Ganges at its very source, which must be done at a certain propitious hour, fixed also by the position of the stars.

Ganges is a name invented in Europe. The natives always say Ganga, and consider this river to belong strictly to the feminine sex. Ganges is sacred in the eyes of the Hindus, because she is the most important of all the fostering goddesses of the country, and a daughter of the old Himavat (Himalaya), from whose heart she springs for the salvation of the people. That is why she is worshiped, and why the city of Hardwar, built at her very source, is so sacred. Hardwar is written Hari-dvara, the doorway of the sun-god, or Krishna, and is also often called Gangadvara, the doorway of Ganga; there is still a third name of the same town, which is the name of a certain ascetic Kapela, or rather Kapila, who once sought salvation on this spot, and left many miraculous traditions.

The town is situated in a charming flowery valley, at the foot of the southern slope of the Sivalik ridge, between two mountain chains. In this valley, raised 1,024 feet above the sea level, the northern nature of the Himalayas struggles with the tropical growth of the plains, and in their efforts to excel each other they have created the most delightful of all the delightful corners of India. The town itself is a quaint collection of castle-like turrets of the most fantastical architecture -- of ancient viharas, of wooden fortresses so gaily painted that they look like toys, of pagodas with loopholes and overhanging curved little balconies, and all this over-grown by such abundance of roses, dahlias, aloes, and blossoming cactuses that it is hardly possible to tell a door from a window. The granite foundations of many houses are laid almost in the bed of the river, and so during four months of the year they are half covered with water.
And behind this handful of scattered houses, higher up the mountain slope, crowd snow-white, stately temples. Some of them are low, with thick walls, wide wings, and gilded cupolas; others rise in majestical many-storied towers; others again with shapely pointed roofs, which look like the spires of a bell tower. Strange and capricious is the architecture of these temples, the like of which is not to be seen anywhere else. They look as if they had suddenly dropped from the snowy abodes of the mountain spirits above -- standing there in the shelter of the mother mountain, and timidly peeping over the head of the small town below at their own images reflected in the pure, untroubled waters of the sacred river.
Here the Ganges is not yet polluted by the dirt and the sins of her many million adorers. Releasing her worshipers, cleansed from her icy embrace, the pure maiden of the mountains carries her transparent waves through the burning plains of Hindostan; and only three hundred and forty-eight miles lower down, on passing through Cawnpore, do her waters begin to grow thicker and darker; while on reaching Benares, they transform themselves into a kind of peppery pea soup.
Once, while talking to an old Hindu, who tried to convince us that his compatriots are the cleanest nation in the world, we asked him: "Why is it then that in the less populous places, the Ganges is pure and transparent, whilst in Benares, especially towards evening, it looks like a mass of liquid mud?"
The beautiful river is the greatest and the purest of goddesses, in the eyes of the Hindus; and many are the honors given to her in Hardwar. Besides the Mela celebrated once every twelve years, there is a month in every year when the pilgrims flock together to the Harika-Paira, stairs of Vishnu. Whosoever succeeds in throwing himself first into the river at the appointed day, hour, and moment, will not only expiate all his sins, but also have all bodily sufferings removed. This zeal to be first is so great that owing to a badly-constructed and narrow stair leading to the water, it used to cost many lives yearly; until in 1819 the East India Company, taking pity upon the pilgrims, ordered this ancient relic to be removed, and a new stairway one hundred feet wide and consisting of sixty steps, to be constructed.
The month when the waters of the Ganges are most salutary falls, according to the Brahmanical computation, between March 12th and April 10th, and is called Chaitra. The worst of it is that the waters are at their best only at the first moment of a certain propitious hour indicated by the Brahmans, and which sometimes happens to be midnight. You can fancy what it must be when this moment comes, in the midst of a crowd which exceeds two millions. In 1819 more than four hundred people were crushed to death. But even after the new stairs were constructed, the goddess Ganga has carried away on her virgin bosom many a disfigured corpse of her worshipers. Nobody pitied the drowned; on the contrary, they were envied. Whoever happens to be killed during this purification by bathing, is sure to go straight to Swarga (heaven).
In 1760, the two rival brotherhoods of Sannyasis and Bairagis had a regular battle amongst them on the sacred day of Purbi, the last day of the religious fair. The Bairagis were conquered, and there were eighteen thousand people slaughtered.


The ritual

The major event of the festival is ritual bathing at the banks of the river in whichever town it is being held. Nasik has registered maximum visitor to 75 million. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized. Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all the pilgrimages. Thousands of holy men and women attend, and the auspiciousness of the festival is in part attributable to this. The sadhus are seen clad in saffron sheets with ashes and powder dabbed on their skin as per the requirements of ancient traditions. Some, called naga sanyasis, may not wear any clothes even in severe winter
It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites


Timing

Kumbh Mela is celebrated at different locations depending on the position of the planet of Bhaspati (Jupiter) and the sun. When Jupiter and the sun are in the zodiac sign Leo (Simha Rashi) it is held in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik; when the sun is in Aries (Mesha Rashi) it is celebrated at Haridwar; when Jupiter is in Taurus (Vrishabha Rashi ) and the sun is in Capricorn (Makar Rashi) Kumbha Mela is celebrated at Prayag; and Jupiter and the sun are in Scorpio (Vrishchik Rashi) the Mela is celebrated at Ujjain. Each site's celebration dates are calculated in advance according to a special combination of zodiacal positions of Sun, Moon, and Jupiter
The Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years at Haridwar and Allahabad, the Purna (complete) Kumbh takes place every twelve years,  at four places Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela which comes after 12 'Purna Kumbh Melas', or 144 years, is held at Allahabad


Places to visit

Haridwar’s rich culture and tradition will tell you why India is called incredible. The best part is you can finish your Haridwar trip in just three days The Chandi Devi Temple is a must see in Haridwar. This temple atop Nell parvat was constructed in 1929 A.D by the king of Kashmir. According to Legend, Chanda-Munda the army chief of demon King Shumbh- Nishumbha was killed by goddess Chandi and the temple was built to honor the Goddess. Maya Devi Temple is an ancient temple of Maya Devi which is not to be missed. Maya Devi was the Adhisthatri deity of Haridwar, known as one of the Siddhpeethas, this is the place where heart and navel of the goddess Sati had fallen. 

Other temples you can visit in Haridwar are Mansa Devi Temple of Goddess Mansa Devi, the Daksha Mahadeva Temple and Rishikesh located near the banks of Ganga. Running around all the temples will take you one whole day. Spend your next day with animal friends in the Rajaji National Park which is the sanctum for more than hundreds of species of animals, birds and avifauna. Tigers, jungle cat, leopard, samber, Himalayan yellow throated marten, cheetah, wild boar, barking deer, ghural, langoor, sloth beer, woodpecker and king cobra are the favorite inhabitants of Rajaji National Park!

Reaching There

Haridwar is a very unique place where the tourist influx is high throughout the year. Most of the festivals are celebrated in very grand style with great zeal and fervor. Moreover, the climate in Haridwar is pleasant throughout the year. Traveling to Haridwar isn’t difficult. The Jolly grant airport at Dehradun is the closest domestic airport. This is about 35 kilometers from Haridwar. It is also well connected to major cities with regular and express trains. Haridwar lies on national highway number 45 and is well connected to major cities on road. Plenty of local busses, rickshaws and cabs are available in Haridwar and this makes commutation within the city very easy.





Rishikesh, Uttarakhand



Rishikesh is a city and a municipal board in Dehradun district now in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as The Gateway to the Himalayas. Rishikesh is surrounded by three other districts namely Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal and Haridwar. It is located around 25 km north of holy city, Haridwar. Rishikesh has a permanent population of around 75,000

Etymology

"Hṛṣīkeśa" (Sanskrit: हृषीकेश) is a name of Vishnu that means 'lord of the senses'. The root words Hrishik and ish join together to make Hrishikesh. Hrishik means Senses and ish means master or Lord. Hence the word means Lord of Senses or Lord Vishnu. The place gets its name after Lord Vishnu who appeared to 'Raibhya Rishi', as a result of his tapasya (austerities), as Lord Hrishikesh , In Skanda Purana, this area is known as 'Kubjamrak' as Lord Vishnu appeared, under a mango tree.  Another legend says that fierce fire broke out here. Lord Shankar was angry with Lord Agni and cursed him. Then Lord Agni prayed here for the expiation of his sins. Hence it is also known as Agni Tirth - The holy place to penance of Lord Agni or Fire God.
The name Rishikesh is loosely applied to an association of five distinct sections encompassing not only the town but also Kevin de Geus. These include Rishikesh itself, the commercial and communication hub; the sprawling suburb Muni-ki-Reti or the "sands of the sages"; Shivananda Nagar the home of Sivananda Ashram and the Divine Life Society founded by Swami Sivananda, north of Rishikesh; the temple section of Lakshman Jhula, a little further north; and the assorted Ashrams around Swarg Ashram on the east bank. One can reach the famous Neelakanta Maha Deva Temple from here. The Ganga Aarti performed at dusk at the Triveni Ghat is popular with visitors. 'Neelkanth Mahadev Temple', situated 28 km from Rishikesh, amidst forest is also a popular local pilgrimage, along with 'Vasishtha Guha', (Cave of sage Vasishtha), 21 km up from the town by the Ganges.

History

Rishikesh has been a part of the legendary 'Kedarkhand' (the present day Garhwal). Legends state that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka; and Lakshmana, his younger brother, crossed the river Ganges, at a point, where the present 'Lakshman Jhula'   bridge stands today, using a jute rope bridge. The 'Kedar Khand' of Skanda Purana, also mentions the existence of Indrakund at this very point. The jute-rope bridge was replaced by iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889, and after it was washed away in the 1924 floods, it was replaced by a stronger present bridge.
The sacred river Ganges flows through Rishikesh. It is here that the river leaves the Shivalik mountains in the Himalayas and flows out into the plains of northern India. Several temples, ancient as well as new, can be found along the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh.
Hrishikesh is the most ancient pilgrim place. It is an abode of Gods, a place of worship and penance of the sages and saints. The celestial stream of Ganges decends down here from the Himalayas. Hence it regarded as the most pious pilgrim place. The mystical powers of the earth and water of this place, the penance of the sages and gods make it spritual holy pilgrim place.
            
There are legends about this holy pilgrim place in the scriptures. Lord Vishnu Appeared before sage Raibhya in penance under the mango tree and told him to ask a boon. The great sage Raibhya Muni prayed Lord Vishnu to dwell in this place for ever. Lord Vishnu was pleased to be present here forever as Hrishikesh and said "O sage ! Lord Bharat will reinstall me here in Treta Yuga and I shall be known as Bharat in Kaliyug. Adi Guru Shankaracharya will install me here in due course of time."
The root words Hrishik and ish join together to make Hrishikesh (हृषीकेश). Hrishik means Senses and ish means master or Lord. Hence the word means Lord of Senses or Lord Vishnu. The sage Raibhya conquered his senses and attained Vishnu, the conqueror of senses. Hence the place is known as Hrishikesh (हृषीकेश). However, later on it was pronounced as Rishikesh (ऋषिकेश).
Another legend says that fierce fire broke out here. Lord Shankar was angry with Lord Agni and cursed him. Then Lord Agni prayed here for the expiation of his sins. Hence it is also known as Agni Tirth - The holy place to penance of Lord Agni or Fire God.
In Medieval period very few people lived here. The pilgrim visited here during pilgrimage session. Only few poets and sages lived here. It was surrounded by mango groves and shurbs of bamboo. Many temples were here during the eighth century. The floods in Ganges, earthquackes and iconoclasts demolished many of them.

Yoga Center

Rishikesh, sometimes nicknamed "the world capital of Yoga", has numerous yoga centres that also attract tourists. It is believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of moksha, as does a dip in the holy river that flows through it. Rishikesh is world famous for Rafting and Adventure. Rafting season starts from the month of March and ends in September.
Rishikesh is also home to the 120-year old Kailas Ashram Brahmavidyapeetham, an institution dedicated to preserve and promote the traditional Vedantic Studies. Prominent personalities such as Swami Vivekananda, Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Shivananda have studied in this institution.
In February 1968, The Beatles visited the now-closed[citation needed] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh.  John Lennon recorded a song titled, 'The Happy Rishikesh Song'.[9][dead link][10] The Beatles composed nearly 48 songs during their time at the Maharishi's ashram,  many of which appear on the White Album.[citation needed] Several other artists, including Mike Love and Donovan, visited the site to contemplate and meditate.[11] Former royal palace of the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal at near by Narendra Nagar, now houses the Ananda–In the Himalayas destination spa and yoga retreat, estb. 2000.

Geography

Rishikesh is located at 30.103368°N 78.294754°E. It has an average elevation of 372 metres (1,745 feet).
The Tehri Dam is just 80 km uphill on the way to Gangotri. Rishikesh is the starting point for travelling to the four Chota Char Dham pilgrimage places — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. Rishikesh is also famous for ayurvedic treatments. Many ayurveda centre are run where ayurvedic classes are given by ayurvedic doctors.

 

Rishikesh is becoming a popular spot for white water rafting enthusiasts, both from India and abroad, as the Ganges offers medium to rough rapids rated class 3 and class 4.[15] It is also a center for hiking and backpacking. Recently, bungee jumping has also been introduced in Rishikesh, the first and only bungee jumping camp in India

 

Pauri Garhwal district

Pauri Garhwal is a district in Uttarakhand state of India. Its headquarters is at Pauri. Pauri Garhwal district is ringed by Haridwar, Dehradun, Tehri Garhwal, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Almora and Nainital districts from three sides. The southern boundary of Pauri Garhwal district touches with the Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh. This district falls partly in the Gangetic plains and a major part in the Himalayan North.


History

Pauri Garhwal district was a part of the erstwhile Garhwal Kingdom ruled by the Pal (Shah) dynasty. The throne of the King was at Srinagar. In 1803 Gurkhas, after many unsuccessful attempts, finally succeeded in capturing Garhwal by defeating the army of King Pradyumna Shah. In 1816, the British defeated the Gurkhas in the Anglo-Nepalese War, and the Garhwal Kingdom was re-established from Tehri.Village andkil is the smallest village in pauri garhwal.
The present king of Kumaon kingdom is Raja Mahendra Chand of Lamakhet, he is married to Rani Gita Chand of Rina and has three children. (Rajkumari Aakanksha Chand, Rajkumari Mallika Chand, Rajkumar Aryan Chand)
History of Pauri Garhwal District suggests that through the ages, the evolution of human civilization in this region of Garhwal Himalaya has been parallel to the rest of Indian sub-continent. Katyuri was the first historical dynasty, which ruled over unified Uttarakhand and left some important records in the form of inscriptions and temples. In the later period after the downfall of the Katyuris, it is believed that the Garhwal region was fragmented in more than sixty-four principalities ruled by a chieftain, one of the principal chieftainship was Chandpurgarh. In the mid of 15th century A.D. Chandpurgarh emerged as a powerful principality under the rule of King Jagatpal (1455 A.D to 1493 A.D.), who was a descendent of Kanakpal. Towards the end of 15th century AD King Ajaypal enthroned Chandpurgarh and ruled the region. Subsequently, his kingdom came to be known as Garhwal and he transferred his capital from Chandpur to Devalgarh before 1506 AD and later on to Srinagar during 1506 to 1519 A.D.
King Ajaypal and his successors ruled the region of Garhwal for nearly three hundred years even during this period they had faced a number of attacks from Kumaon, Mughals, Sikhs and Rohillas. An important event in the history of Pauri Garhwal District was Gorkha invasion. It was marked by extreme brutality. After conquering Doti and Kumaon, Gorkhas attacked Garhwal despite stiff resistance put up by the Garhwali forces. But in the meantime, news came of a Chinese invasion and the Gorkhas were forced to lift the siege. However, in 1803, they again mounted an invasion. After capturing Kumaon, they attacked Garhwal in three columns. Eventually, the Gorkhas became the masters of entire Garhwal in 1804 and ruled the territory for twelve years.
The rule of Gorkhas in Garhwal area ended in 1815 after the British invasion in the region. After the defeat of Gorkha army, the British rulers on 21 April 1815, decided to establish their rule over the eastern, half of Garhwal region, which lies east of Alaknanda River and Mandakini river. The remaining part of Garhwal in the west was restored to King Sudarshan Shah who established his capital at Tehri. Initially the administration was entrusted to the commissioner of Kumaon and Garhwal with headquarters at Nainital, but later Garhwal was separated and formed into a separate district in the year 1840 under an assistant commissioner with his headquarter at Pauri. In early 1960, Pauri Garhwal District and Chamoli District was curved out of Garhwal district.

Villages

After independence it was known as Garhwal district and further divided into Pauri Garhwal and Chamoli districts in 1960. In 1997 an additional area was carved out of the Pauri Garhwal and merged with parts of Chamoli and Tehri Garhwal districts to form a new district named Rudraprayag.Ransi ground situated in pauri is the highest ground in Asia.Pauri Garhwal, a district of Uttarakhand state encompasses an area of 5230 km2 and situated between 29° 45’ to 30°15’ Latitude and 78° 24’ to 79° 23’ E Longitude.The District is administratively divided into nine tehsils, viz., Pauri, Lansdown, Kotdwar, Thalisain, Dhumakot, Srinagar, Satpuli, Dhumakot & Yamkeshwar and fifteen developmental blocks, viz., Kot, Kaljikhal, Pauri, Pabo, Thalisain, Bironkhal, Dwarikhal, Dugadda, Jaihrikhal, Ekeshwer,bangarh, Rikhnikhal,Basda,Yamkeswar, Nainidanda, Pokhra & Khirsu. Layara,Village - Kandai Post Sanglakoti near about is Pokhra, Satpuli, Rithakhal ,Ira Malla, Shrikotkhal,(Lat..29,54"53'N And Lan78,46"46') Ekeswar, Chobattakhal etc. and
Gaurav

Transport

The most common mode of transport is either bus or taxi. Bus services are provided by the state-run Uttarakhand Roadways, Garhwal Motor Owner Union (GMOU) Ltd. and Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) Ltd. Operations of the Uttarakhand Roadways are limited mainly to Inter-state routes and major cities/towns of the district/state. GMOU Ltd. is the largest bus service provider of the district, providing services to almost all places of the district. The services of GMU Ltd. are limited to comparatively smaller area adjoining the Kumaon division. Also there are a number of Taxi Unions in many towns of the district, providing services for almost every stretch of the road.
The only railway station of the district is at Kotdwara, which was established by the British as early as 1889. As Pauri Garhwal district is situated at the Shiwalik range, the outermost range of the Himalayas, its hills are very inconsistent. As a result it is not considered feasible to extend the railways network.
Pauri Garhwal district does not have any regular air services. The nearest airport is Jollygrant, Dehradun, about 155 km from Pauri and about 120 km from Kotdwara.

Tourism

Tourism in Pauri Garhwal District includes a number of exploring options.Pauri Garhwal is considered as nature's paradise and it attracts people through its charm and magnificence.The beautiful valleys,snow clad mountain peaks and the amazing vies of the nature are the key components that attract the travellers.Moreover,tourism in Pauri will bw considered incomplete without paying a visit to its ancient temples.Some of the main places of interest in Pauri are as follows.

Jai Danda Nagraja Mandir

The holy shrine of Danda Nagraja is a very popular pilgrimage among the Garhwali people. Devotees from around the country throng to the shrine everyday. It is located in the Banelsyun Patti, District Pauri (lap of Mountains).
Alighting the bus at Marodagarha distance of 15 km run from Devparyag, the traveler treks on foot on uphill way up to 10 km.
श्री डांडानागराजा is one of the most famous temples in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttrakhand. The temple is situated in the Patty Kandwalsyon. Every year thousands of pilgrims from across the country visit this holy shrine, especially people from villages who have a lot of belief in the healing powers of this deity.
The famous Kauthig festival is celebrated on a very grand scale every year in 13-14April. The shrine is now well connected from Pauri City and other districts of the State by regular bus services. The best seasons to visit this Krishna temple is from November to March.
“Legend has it that when Lord Krishna came here for the first time, he came in the form of a snake and crawled all the way up the ridge to reach the spot where the temple now stands. Hence this temple is called श्री डांडानागराजा Temple.” a regular pilgrim to this shrine, PUJARI OF श्री डांडानागराजा TEMPLE'S said.
Localites have a strong belief that Lord Krishna still stays here and has done so over many centuries. They say they have special blessings of Danda Nagraja. Popular faith is that Danda Nagraja has the power to foresee any ill coming to the area and always informs them about any mishap that is about to occur. Not just that, locals say the Lord also gives them the solution to the problem.
The temple’s high priest tells you with conviction that if any devotee prays sincerely, Danda Nagraja always fulfills his wishes.
The temple is situated at the top of a hill with ample space around the structure for the pilgrims to relax. Another unique feature of this temple is that thousands of bells are tied in the temple premises by devotees after their wish is fulfilled. Apart from this, there is also a custom of devotees offering jaggery (gur) as prasad to the reigning deity. After a darshan of श्री डांडानागराजा, the pilgrims take a parikarma of the temple to get the blessings of the God.
“The temple not only attracts local people but, every year, many foreigners come visiting and they donate bells with their names written all over. The main visitors are from the US and UK,” the priest tells you.
People who lives in villages they have sacred belief in Danda Nagraza Temple. It is said that there are so many folk stories behind the establishment of temple. Jai Danda Nagraza Temple has been healing the grieves of Millions of devotees in many magical and holy way and that is what tied those devotees into a bond of love between God and Pilgrims since ages. With the help of this temple Pauri Garhwal known as a "Land of Miracles".
The State Government is doing its best to bring this temple into the world tourist map. The condition of roads has improved, dharamshalas and other tourists shelters are coming up and transportation and other basic facilities are being introduced.....
Location:- Village kota,silsu,Lasera & Ree, Devprayag, Pauri Garhwal, U.k., Pauri Garhwal, India(vicky tariyal)+919873623349

Jwalpa Devi Temple

This is a famous shaktipeeth of garhwal dedicated to Goddess Jwalpa. It is situated on the Right Bank of the Nawalika River, 34 km from Pauri, on the main Pauri- Kotdwar road. According to a legend in Skandha Puraan, Sachi(daughter of the demon king Pulom) wanted to marry devraj Indra so she worshipped The Supreme mother Goddess 'Shakti' here at this place. The Goddess then appeared in the form of Deeptimaan Jwalehwari and her wish was fulfilled. This name then gradually as the time passed was cut short and moduled to Jwalpa Devi. Adi Guru Shankaracharya visited and prayed in this temple and it is said that The Goddess appeared to him. Every year Navratri fair is held twice, on the occasion of Chitra and Shardiya Navratri. Anthwals are the traditional priests and care-takers of this temple as the present temple was constructed by Late Pt Shri Dutta Ram Anthwal(Anthwals being the zameendaar of the area, originally from village Aneth). Every year thousands of people visit this temple, specially unmarried girls as it is said that the girls get fine grooms just like Indraani(sachi) got Lord Indra by the grace of The Goddess.

Kandoliya Devta

The main temples of the city are Kandoliya Devta, Laxmi Narayan, Kyunkaleshwar Mahadev and Hanuman mandir. Every year, a ‘Bhandara‘ is organized in the premises of the Temple of the Kandoliya Devta and thousands of people from Pauri and near by villages participate in it. The city is blessed with a number of picnic spots surrounded by ‘Deodar‘ forests and filled with natural beauty viz. Ransi, Kandoliya, Nag Dev, Jhandi Dhar etc. Every year ‘Sharadotsav’ is celebrated in the city since 1974.

Shoonya Shikhar Ashram

This is one of the prime spiritual centers near Kotdwara. One can reach there after 7 km trekking from a village Balli, around 35 km up the hill from Kotdwara. Shoonya Shikar Ashram is known for the meditation cave of Sadguru Sadafaldeo Ji Maharaj   It attracts people from all over the world, in particular the followers of Vihangam Yoga, seeking high level meditation. This is the place where 'Swarved' was created.  

Kyunkaleshwar Mahadev

It is an 8th century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva offering astonishing views of the snow laden Himalayas.The temple is situated in the suburbs of the main town Pauri.The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Shiva accompanied by Goddess Parvati,Ganesha and Karthikeyan.

Chaukhamba View Point

Situated only 4 km from Pauri.Chaukhamba View Point ridge overlooks the splendid idwal valley and Chaukhamba Peaks.It is one of the prominent places of Pauri because of its mesmerizing scenic vistas.

Khirsu

The snow-covered mountains of Khirsu offer a panoramic view of the Central Himalayas and attract a large number of tourists. From here one can get a clear view of many named & unnamed peaks. Located 19 km away from Pauri at an altitude of 1,700 m, khirsu is a peaceful spot, free from pollution. Only the chirping of birds breaks the tranquility of the adjoining thick Oak and Deodar forests and apple orchards. The ancient temple of Ghandiyal Devta in the vicinity is well worth a visit. Accommodation is available at the Tourist Rest House and Forest Rest House.

Binsar Mahadev

Amidst the dense forest of Birch, Rhododendron and Deodar, is located the temple of Binsar Mahadev at an altitude of 2480 m and is at a distance of 114 km from Pauri. Sanctorum of temple consists of deities, Hargauri, Ganesh and Mahisasurmardini. Temple is believed to be constructed by Maharaja Prithu in memory of his father Bindu. This temple is also known as Bindeshwar temple. A big fair takes place here on the occasion of Baikunth Chaturdashi every year.
 

Doodhatoli

Doodhatoli, Situated at an altitude of 3100 m, is covered withdense mixed forest. Thalisain is the last bus terminal (104 km. from Pauri) from where Doodhatoli is at a distance of 24 km. by trek. It is one of the most picturesque places and offers a panaromic view of the Himalayan ranges and the surrounding areas.

Tara Kund

Situated at a height of 2200 m. Tarakund is a small picturesque spot amidst lofty mountains in the Chariserh Development Area. A small lake and an ancient temple adorn the place. The Teej festival is celebrated with great gaiety when the local people come here to worship and pay homage to God.

Kanvashram

According to a famous believe this is the place where the great sage Swami Vishwamitra meditated and the beautiful heavenly damsel Menka disturbed him. This place is situated at a distance of about 14 km from Kotdwar, and has a great historical and archaeological importance.









Om Tat Sat
                                                        
(Continued...)                                                                                                                              



(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )

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