Haridwar (also known as Hardwar) is a holy city in the Haridwar District in the state of Uttaranchal in northern India. Literally meaning Gateway to God, Haridwar is considered one of the seven holiest places according to Hindus, as the devas are said to have left their footprints there. Here pilgrims float diyas on the Ganges, to commemorate their deceased ancestors. The city also stands as a gateway to three other important pilgrimage destinations: Rishikesh, Badrinath, and Kedarnath. In Haridwar you will see a great statue of Shiva at the fork of the river. If you are there for a short visit, it is definitely worth to visit the temple on top of the mountain, with a wonderful view.
Haridwar has very rich ancient religious and cultural heritage. In the ancient scriptures of India, this place is well known by the name of Mayapur. This city is also well known for many other things apart from the holy river Ganges. Haridwar has privilege of having IIT at Roorkee, formerly known as University of Roorkee, founded in 1847 as a first technical institute of India. The city has one of the "navratna PSUs of India" i.e BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals India Ltd.). The tomb Piran Kaliar of Shabir Shahib in Roorkee is a living example of religious harmony in India which is visited by the people of all religious sects from all over the world. There is another University in the city called Gurukul Kangri Vishva Vidyalaya apart from the head quarter of Uttaranchal State Public Service Commission also being established at Haridwar. Besides this, Kumbh fair is organized at the interval of every 12 years in this city in which about 1 crore pilgrims from all over the world participate.
A paradise for nature-lovers, Haridwar presents kaleidoscope of Indian culture and civilisation. Haridwar also termed as 'Gateway to Gods' is known as Mayapuri, Kapila, Gangadwar as well. The follower of Lord Shiva (Har) and follower of Lord Vishnu (Hari) pronounce this place Hardwar and Haridwar respectively as told by some. It is also a point of entry to Dev Bhoomi and Char Dham (Four main centers of pilgrimage in Uttaranchal) Viz. Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
Archaeological finding have proved that teracotta culture dating between 1700 BCE and 1200 BCE existed in this region.
Legendary king Bhagirath is said to have brought the river Ganga from heaven to earth in order to provide salvation to his ancestors. It is also said that Haridwar has been sanctified by the presence of three Gods; Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Lord Vishnu is said to have his foot print on the stone that is set in the upper wall of Har-Ki-Pauri where the Holy Ganga touches it all the times. Devout believers feel that they can go to heaven by getting their salvation after a dip in the sacred Ganga at Haridwar.
Haridwar is also one of the four places where the Kumbh Mela occurs after a rotation of every twelve Years and the Ardh Kumbh after every six years. The other places are Allahabad (also known as Prayag), Ujjain and Nasik. Kumbh, 1998 was the last Maha Kumbh of this century. Yet beyond the mystic aura and mythology, Haridwar casts another magic spell on the visitor. Being one of the oldest living cities, Haridwar finds its mention in the ancient Hindu scriptures as it waves through the life and time stretching from the period of the Buddha to the more recent British advent. Haridwar has not only remained the abode of the weary in body, mind and spirit, but also served as centre of attraction for many, for learning the arts science and culture. Haridwar's long standing position as a great source for Ayurvedic medicines and herbal remedies as well as its unique Gurukul school of traditional education, the scenic beauty and lush greenery...all give the city unique flavors and charm; a must among the sojourn centers in a discoverer's intinary of Uttaranchal-A destination for all seasons.
Haridwar is one of the first towns where Ganga emerges from the mountains to touch the planes. And that's why the water is crystal clear and cool. Lush green forests and small ponds add to the scenic beauty of this holy land. The Rajaji National Park is just 10 km from Haridwar. Its an ideal destination for wild life and adventure lovers. In the evening the ghats look breathtakingly beautiful as thousands of diyas (lamps) and marigold flowers float and illuminate the holy waters.
Haridwar as today has not only religious importance but it has another temple of modern civilization i.e. BHEL, a 'navratna PSU' to its credit. The Roorkee University at Roorkee is one of the oldest and prestigious institute of learning in the fields of science and engineering. Another university of the district i.e. Gurukul Kangri, having a vast campus, is giving traditional education of its own kind.