One of the four places of Kumbha-Mela as well as one of the Saptapuris. Haridwar is on the west bank of the Ganga at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains. Haridwar means the gateway to Hari (Lord Vishnu). It is also called Ganga-dwara, because the holy Ganga enters the plains here. It is also called Mayapuri Kshetra in the Puranas. Haridwar lies along the Ganges River, at the boundary between the Indo-Gangetic Plain (south) and the Himalayan foothills (north). It is the site of the headworks of the Ganges Canal system.
Haridwar is one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus and a major pilgrimage centre. It has been known by many names; originally it was called Kapila, for the sage who once lived there. Its present name means “door to Hari,” one of the names of Vishnu, a principal deity of Hinduism.Haridwar’s chief object of pilgrimage is the bathing ghat, or steps, along the river called Har-ki-pauri, which has what believers consider to be a footprint of Vishnu impressed into a stone. Large numbers of pilgrims gather there annually at the beginning of the Hindu solar year in April; a Kumbh Mela is held every 12th year. The Daksheshwar (Siva) temple, another important pilgrimage site, lies 2 miles (3 km) downstream at Kankhal.
It is one of the four places where Kumbha mela is held every 12 years. The places famous in Haridwar are Har ki Pauri (Brahma Kund), Mansa Devi temple, Bhimgoda Kund, Kushavarta ghat, Gaurikund, Kankhal, Daksha Mandir, etc. Hardwar is one of the seven holy cities in India. It is an important pilgrimage town due to its propitious location. Thousands of people come to bathe at Brahm Kund on different auspicious occasions.
Hardwar stands as the gateway to the four pilgrimages of Uttaranchal. Geographically and geological, Hardwar, lying at the feet of Shiva’s hills, i.e., Shivaliks, in the Hardwar district of Uttaranchal Pradesh, is a doorway. Suryavanshi prince Bhagirath performed penance here to salvage the souls of his ancestors who had perished due to the curse of sage Kapila. The penance was answered and the river Ganga trickled forth from Lord Shiva’s locks and its bountiful water revived the sixty thousand sons of king Sagara. In the traditional of Bhagirath, devout Hindus stand in the sacred waters here, praying for salvation of their departed elder. It is doorway to the sources of the Ganga and the Yamuna, 3000 to 4500 meters up into the snowy ranges of the central Himalayas. The ‘Aarti’ worship of the Ganga after sunset and the floating ‘dia’ (lamp) is a moving ritual.
The observance of Maha Kumbh Mela has achieved international popularity as “The biggest act of faith.” Millions of pilgrims come to participate in the holy event of Maha Kumbh with a tremendous faith. They have a “persistent trust in something sublime”. The pilgrims come from all walks of life, with a belief that their sins will be washed off in the holy waters of the sacred river Ganges if they take a dip during the Kumbh but the actual and more science based reasons are different. It is actually the position of stars and constellations during the Kumbh that makes it significant to take a dip in the river at that time. Actually Kumbh Mela takes place during an auspicious planetary position that is believed to medicate the Ganges waters with a concentration of certain rays due to their position and turn the river into nectar. Millions of devotees arrive to purify their inner self through holy bathing rituals. (Possibly a lot of skin diseases are cured during that time).
The religious history of Kumbh Yatra (Kumbh Mela) remains associated with numerous legends. There is an interesting legend which relates to the origin of the Kumbh Yatra (Kumbh Mela). Hindus believe that Lord Brahma gave gods a piece of advice to rid them of their weakness, caused during the creation of the earth. Following Lord Brahma’s advice, the gods began to churn the ocean to obtain amrit from its waters. As the task was quite tough, the gods sought the assistance of demons. The gods, in return, made a deal with the demons that the latter could have half of the nectar that was too obtained from the ocean. The demons agreed to it. However, after the gods became successful in procuring the nectar, they tried to run away without sharing half of it with the demons, as was promised in the deal, a fight ensued. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the Devas and Asuras fought in the sky for the pot of amrita. It is believed that during the battle, Lord Vishnu (incarnated as Mohini-Murti) flew away with the Kumbha of elixir spilling drops of amrita at four places: Allahabad (Prayag), Hardwar, Ujjain and Nasik.
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Har Ki Pauri, Haridwar, Uttarakhand 249401.