1) The Land
A very rare photo of Ganga statue in the
middle of the Ganga river at Har ki Pauri One town but many names: Haridwar or Hardwar is one of the holiest places for Hindus in India. Hari and Har, though they sound almost similar to the uninitiated, in fact can change the name of the city conveniently as a Shaivite or Vaishnavite centre, as Har means Shiva (the deity of Kedarnath), Hari means Vishnu (the deity of Badrinath) and Dwar means gate. Haridwar is thus the gateway to the two holy shrines of Shiva and Vishnu. The town has also been called Gangadvar, meaning 'Door of Ganga' as it is here that the sacred river Ganga comes down from the mountains to flow out upon the Indian plains.
Haridwar is also one of India’s Moksapuris- Seven Sacred Cities, where moksha or spiritual liberation may be attained more easily. Many years ago it was also referred to as Kapilsthan after the great sage Kapil, who lived and meditated here. Today, there are ever so many swamis, yogis, and religious centers that it’s difficult to count them. As a pilgrimage centre, it also offers several ashrams or heritages and Dharamshalas; pilgrim resting houses that are free or very inexpensive. It has mention in ancient texts of India like Mahabharata and Puranas. The story of Bhagiratha, who through his intense meditation brought the holy Ganga down to earth from the heavens, is very popular. He attained salvation for 60,000 of his ancestors and so to this day, Hindus bring the ashes of their departed family members here to ensure their salvation. An extensive ritual is performed then called the “Pind Daan” by a priest. It is a fascinating experience to actually be part of such a ritual of death. Lord Vishnu is said to have left his footprints on one of the banks of Haridwar, which is now called Har-ki -Pauri, a spot that is constantly washed by the waves of the holy Ganga.