Haridwar

Haridwar (हरिद्वार), also spelled Hardwar, is a city in the state of Uttarakhand, India.

Understand

Har-ki-pauri

Haridwar, literally translated as the Gateway to God, is one of the Hindu holy places in India and a centre of Hindu religion and mysticism for centuries. Located on the banks of the River Ganges (Ganga), at the point where the Ganges descends from the hills to the North Indian plains, Haridwar attracts a large number of Hindu pilgrims from all over the world.

Festivals

Haridwar is the site of many religious festivals. Most notably, once every twelve years it is the venue for the Kumbh Mela, the world's largest festival, which drew a record 70 million in 2003. (The festival rotates between Haridwar and Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik.) The Ardh Mela, or "half mela", is held every six years. The last Maha Kumbh Mela was in 2010, and the next Ardh Mela will be in 2016.

Other yearly festivals include:

While the festivals are colorful and fascinating, they also strain the town's limited infrastructure to the breaking point and sometimes beyond. Book rooms and tickets well in advance, and avoid travel by road as the traffic jams can be horrendous.

Get in

Haridwar is about 200 km from Delhi, the capital of India and is well connected by road and rail network from all parts of India. It is better to avoid travelling to Haridwar during the Hindu month of Sawan (around July) since there is a heavy crowd and all important roads are blocked and most of the hotels/ buses/ trains are crowded.

It is also not good choice to visit this place during the monsoon season (late May to August) as the rain will hinder your visit.

To travel from Delhi to Haridwar you can rent a car or private taxi. You can also prefer to go by train as frequent trains are available and those are less costly as compared to private cabs.

By plane

Dehradun's Jolly Grant Airport is nearest airport to Haridwar. It is domestic airport and located at a distance of 20 km away from the city centre. Taxis from the airport to Haridwar cost ₹400. Frequent flights from Delhi are available as well.

Around 200 km away, Delhi is the nearest international airport, which is well connected to domestic and foreign airports.

By train

Haridwar Junction Railway Station (IR station code : HW) is well-connected by train, with frequent trains to Delhi (4-5 hours) and Dehradun (1 hour). There are also a few trains per day to Rishikesh, but buses are faster and much more frequent. The train station is located on the south side of town, within walking distance to most hotels but a 2-km hike to Hari-ki-Pairi.

Here are some useful trains to reach Haridwar:

Train Number Train Name You may board at You may alight at
2017 Shatabdi Express New Delhi Haridwar Junction
2055 Jan Shatabdi Express New Delhi Haridwar Junction
4041 Mussoorie Express New Delhi Haridwar Junction
2327 Upasana Express Howrah (Kolkata), Lucknow Haridwar Junction
3009 Doon Express Howrah (Kolkata), Varanasi, Lucknow Haridwar Junction
2687 Chennai-Dehradun Express Chennai, Nizamuddin (Delhi) Haridwar Junction
2054 Jan Shatabdi Express Amritsar Haridwar Junction
4632 Amritsar-Dehradun Express Amritsar Haridwar Junction
4610 Hemkunt Express Jammu Haridwar Junction
9105 Ahmedabad-Haridwar Mail Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Delhi Haridwar Junction
9019 Bandra-Dehradun Express Bandra Terminus (Mumbai), Nizamuddin (Delhi) Haridwar Junction

Also see Rail travel in India

By bus

Haridwar's bus station, a stone's throw from the train station, is chaotic and has no signage whatsoever in English. There are regular bus services from Delhi (theoretically 4 hours, in practice 6-8 hours), Rishikesh (1 hour) and other important towns of North India to Haridwar. Before booking the bus check the bus condition. Always go for cushioned and push-back seats. The long and bumpy ride will take a toll on your mood and body.

As there is shortage of AC buses during summer vacations so always go before 1 or 1.5 hour your suitable time so as to get the prior reservation.

Get around

Central Haridwar can be comfortably covered on foot. However, taxis and auto-rickshaws can be available at train and bus stations.

Haridwar is nicely connected by train and bus, but remember to book in advance, especially during pilgrimage season.

Cycle rickshaws usually cost ₹10 for nearer distance, while ₹25 for longer distance such as from main station to Har-ki-Pairi. If you want to hire a taxi for more than three hours to visit ashrams and local temples then it may cost you 400. For similar distance, auto-rickshaws can cost around 200.

See

Do

Maya Devi Temple

Buy

Haridwar, the holy city is one of the most renowned pilgrimage centers in India. Pilgrims from all over the world flock to this sacred city to take a dip in the holy waters of River Ganga. Being a destination for pilgrimage tourism, shopping in Haridwar is not on the itinerary of the tourist.

However shops in Haridwar have some interesting things to offer to the tourist. The main shopping centers are Moti bazaar, Upper Road, Jwalapur and Kankhal. You can also check out the Government Handloom and Handicrafts Emporiums and the Gandhi Ashram. Offers a range of handicraft decorative pieces. If you are interested in jewellery, then you can choose from a variety of imitation ones which make good fashion accessory.

In Haridwar, you will find neatly and intricately carved stone idols, which make unique souvenirs. It is fascinating that these stones have traversed with Ganga all along and they are eventually deposited in Rishikesh as the river enters the plains. This gives the stones amazing shapes and a natural polish. Besides idols, there are kitchen set toys made from stone, which are interesting.

Eat

Haridwar is a purely vegetarian town.

Drink

Alcohol is banned in Haridwar.

Sleep

For most of the hotels the check-in time is 12 Noon. Plenty of Dharmshalas are also available in Haridwar. A cluster of new, modern hotels has sprung up in Bhopatwala, some 5 km north of the city center.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

During festivals, especially the Kumbh Mela, Haridwar is packed to bursting and beyond. Stampedes are a regular occurrence, with over 50 killed in 1986, 21 killed in 2003 and 5 killed in 2010; the bridges across the Ganges are the most dangerous spot.

Alcohol is strictly banned in Haridwar. So don't get trapped in any illegal alcohol consumption as no one wants to end his journey in prison.

Similar to other holy places, Haridwar has significant number of beggars and charlatans. Watch out for the motives of Sadhus trying to offer some one-to-one tutoring in return of money. Beware of greedy monkeys which may attack anytime to grab food from your hands. Be watchful when you walk, as cows and their abundant leftovers can be seen on the roads.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, February 03, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.