Image Source: http://haridwartouragent.com/photo_gallery.html
Growing up in Haridwar has truly been a fascinating experience. I agree that you won’t find big shopping centres or clubs there to party but it is brimming with natural wonders. Now, when we talk about my city, the first thing that comes to mind is the temples that are located at every corner. So, here are some of my favourite ones and probably the most famous in Haridwar as well:
1. Har Ki Paudi
The story has it that King Vikramaditya built this ghat in memory of his brother, Bharthari. The name Har ki Pauri means Steps of Shiva, the Hindu God who visited this place in Vedic times.
In the evening, the Ganges is lit with the golden lights from many earthen diyas which people float on the stream as a symbol of their hopes and wishes. The priests at the temple chant prayers holding huge burning diyas and the crowd on both sides of the river meditate with them. All this, along with the enchanting background of green mountains, present a spectacular site.
My very own experiences of this place have been very calming and memorable. If you do visit Haridwar, taking a dip in the Ganges and attending the aarti is a must.
Image Source: http://www.junglekey.in/search.php?query=Har+ki+Pauri&type=image&lang=en®ion=in&img=1&adv=1
2. Mansa Devi Temple
Who hasn’t heard of the temple where you have to go up by a ropeway! It is dedicated to Goddess Mansa and is located on top of the Bilwa Parvat on the Shivalik Hills. The term ‘Mansa’ means ‘wish’ and devotees, who want their wishes to be fulfilled, tie a thread to a tree located in the temple. It is believed that once your wish comes true, you have to come back to untie the thread.
You also get an opportunity to dress up in traditional pahadi costumes and take the pictures as souvenirs from the local shops. The bird’s eye view of the entire city that you can get from here is simply magnificent.
Image Source: http://www.kalkamandir.com/divine-specials/famous-temples/mansa-devi-haridwar/
3. Chandi Devi Temple
Early morning, a 3-km trek, greenery all around, friends talking and a spectacular sunrise as we used to walk up, what else one can ask for! During my school years, this temple used to be my most cherished haunt and the efforts put into reaching the top was worth everything.
Dedicated to Goddess Chandi and situated atop the Neel Parvat, Chandi Devi Temple was built in 1929 by Suchat Singh, the king of Kashmir at that time. And yes! You get the option to visit the temple by a cable car here as well.
Image Source: http://incredible-india.sanjeevnitv.com/chandi-devi-temple/
4. Bharat Mata Mandir
This temple, having eight floors, is 180 feet tall and was inaugurated by Indira Gandhi in the year 1983. The charm of this place is in walking up every storey one by one which are dedicated to various religious deities, mythological legends and also, the freedom fighters that fought for our independence. Overall, the temple was constructed to pay respect to Mother India, the personification of our country as a Goddess.
Image Source: http://www.bharatmatamandir.co.in/
5. Daksheswara Mahadev Temple
Although the temple is named after King Daksha, it is actually dedicated to Lord Shiva. Daksha, the father of Shiva’s wife, Sati performed a yagya at this exact location and Shiva was not invited to it. When Sati heard Her father insulting Her husband in front of the people present at the ceremony, in anger, She burnt Herself in the yagya’s fire. Agitated by this, Shiva cut Daksha’s head (later to be replaced by a goat’s head) and performed Rudra Tandava with Her body in His hands. Parts of Her body fell at different places which are called as Shakti Peetha.
The structure of the temple is beautifully built and is thronged with tourists round the year.
Image Source: http://www.haridwartravelagents.com/daksha-mahadev-temple-haridwar.html
And that’s the list of those small places around Haridwar that invite thousands of devotees and pilgrims all throughout the year. But more than just temples, they are the places of our childhood visits, our haunts with friends, and our ‘tourist attractions’. Yes, we didn’t have the malls and the parks and markets, but we had the hills and the walks and the crazy number of temples, and believe it or not, these are the experiences that I still cherish!