Haridwar is a temple city, one of the seven sacred cities of Hindus, located in the foothills of Himalayas on the banks of the river Ganga, at the point where the Ganges descends from the hills to the North Indian plains. The name Haridwar means ‘the doorway to God’. It has many Ashrams, temples and most popular solace centre of the Hindu religion.
The main ghat (steps) and focal point of Haridwar is Har-Ki-Pauri, where Pilgrims & Yogis take bathe and worship on the Ganges. According to myth, this is the palace where a drop of nectar fell from the churning of the oceans when the world was created. Everyday thousands of people gather in the evening at Har-ki-Pauri to witness the ‘Aarti’ (Oil lamp) ceremony to worship at the river Goddesses Ganges.
Haridwar is the site for the humanity’s largest festival, Kumbh Mela, which is held once every twelve years at rotation at Haridwar, Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik. The Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela, is held every six years. The last Maha Kumbh Mela was in 2010, and the next Ardh Kumbh Mela will be in 2016.
Rishikesh - It is the celebrated spiritual town about an hour drive from Haridwar, on the bank of Ganges river and is surrounded by Shivalik range of Himalayas on three sides. Rishikesh catapulted to instant Western fame as the palace where the Beatles met their guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Ashram is now closed). Rishikesh is an ideal destination for indepth study of yoga and meditation. There are many ashrams and spiritual centres conducting yoga and meditation classes. The palaces of interest include Triveni Ghat – especially to witness ‘Aarti’ ceremony at sunset when the priests float oil lighted lamps in the Ganges River; Lakshman & amp; Ram Jhoola (bridge) and the oldest temple, Bharat Mandir. Rishikesh is also the Gateway to the Himalayas. It is the starting point for the Char Dham pilgrimage (Four Shrines Sacred Journey) of the Hindus in which pilgrims go to Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
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