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Meghna Paul Jun 04 2014

Can you list some of the things to do and see in Haridwar and Rishikesh?

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For millions of Hindus, visiting Haridwar and Rishikesh is like fulfilling life’s ambition. From bathing in the Ganga to mediating at the ghats, you can indulge in a spiritual affair here. Here’s a list of things to do and see in Haridwar and Rishikesh.


Photo of Lord Shiva on the banks of Ganges (by Nagesh Kamath)

Har ki Pauri

Har ki Pauri gets its name from the pauri (feet) of Lord Vishnu (Hari). The footprints of the lord, the Vishnu Charan Paduka, are believed to be imprinted on the wall beneath the swiftly swirling waters of the Ganga at this ghat. A priest will be able to guide you to reach the spot and touch it. This ghat is believed to be the exact spot where the holy Ganga enters the plains. The river enters the sacred Brahmakund from one side and exits from the other. The Ganga Mandir and Haricharan Mandir are also located here. The busy ghat is a preferred spot for ritual dips and pujas, especially for the souls of the departed.



Photo of Har ki Pauri (by Livefree2013)

Evening Ganga aarti

Attending the evening Ganga aarti at Har ki Pauri is a must. The crowds begin to gather as the air reverberates with the ritualistic chants of the priests and the rhythmic peals of bells from the surrounding temples. Be wary of people walking around with receipt books asking for donations. The aarti takes place on the promenade above the Brahmakund. You can obtain a better view of the aarti from the other side of the stream. Timings vary as per season, but the aarti is performed right after sunset. It’s sensible to reach about 30 minutes before sunset to secure a place in the best viewing spots. apart from attending the evening Ganga aarti, you can even check out other things to do in Haridwar.



Photo of evening ganga aarti (by New Delhices)

The Kumbh Mela

Har ki Pauri is the site where, according to holy scriptures, the divine ambrosia of the gods fell from the celestial urn. The famous fair is held at Haridwar every 12 years when a temporary mela township comes up around Har ki Pauri. Many religious, cultural, social, voluntary, commercial and even political organisations, besides government departments, set up temporary camps on the fairgrounds.



Photo of Kumbh Mela (by -.-Paul-.-)

Mansa Devi Temple

It's believed that a visit to the Mansa Devi Temple fulfils all the wishes of the visitors who come to the temple. Devotees can often be seen tying red threads to the tree within the precincts. The belief says that once your wish is fulfilled, you should come back to the temple to untie the thread. The approach to the temple, located atop the Bhalkeshwar Hill, is lined with landscaped gardens. The noisy shops and thronging crowds add to the lively atmosphere.



Photo of Mansa Devi Temple (by Ekabhishek)

Rajaji National Park

In the foothills of the Shivalik Range (just 9 km from Haridwar), covered by sal forests, Rajaji National Park is well-known for its wild elephants, especially the male tuskers. This is also a haven for birdwatchers, especially during the monsoons. The park consists of three ranges—Rajaji, Motichur and Chilla—spread over an area of 820 sq km. Rajaji and Motichur lie on the west bank of the Ganga, and Chilla to its east. Tourists prefer Chilla, as it’s just half an hour from both Haridwar and Rishikesh.



Photo of Rajaji National Park (from Official Website)

Triveni Ghat

It is believed that the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati took place at Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh. This ghat is large and clean, and has separate changing rooms for women. Nearby is the Rishikund or sages’ pond. This is said to have been a havan kund where the holy men performed yajna ceremonies in ancient times when Ganga did not flow nearby. On the request of the sages for a place to bathe in, the waters of the Yamuna magically appeared in the kund and has been flowing here ever since.



Photo of Triveni Ghat (by rajkumar1220)

Lakshman Jhula

Lakshman Jhula is a famous 450-foot long suspension bridge that was built in 1939. It is said that Lord Rama's brother Lakshman crossed the Ganga on a jute rope from here. The Lakshman and Raghunath temples are located nearby. This part of town is better known for its busy bazaars and cafés. Just 2 km downstream, at Muni-ki-Reti is another suspension bridge, which was built later.




Photo of Lakshman Jhula (by urish)

Bharat Mandir
Situated in the heart of Rishikesh, Bharat Mandir is said to be the oldest temple here. It is not devoted to Bharat (brother of Ram) but to Lord Vishnu, who is also referred to as Bharat in Kalyug. The temple has a collection of excavated artefacts dating back to 15th century CE.

White water rafting

The Rishikesh region offers white water rafting from September to May. The Ganga comes rushing down the mountains, through Kaudiyala (40 km) and Shivpuri (16 km), before it reaches Rishikesh. Here, it slows down, before bursting into white water rapids as it descends into the plains. Many rafting operators have riverside camps between Rishikesh and Kaudiyala, with tents for overnight stay, typically with two cots, a table and two small chairs. All the necessary rafting equipments, meals and games like volleyball or water polo are a part of the package.



Photo of White water rafting (by Rob Chandler)

Yoga and Wellness

Many yoga centres in Rishikesh offer short and long-term courses in yoga. Some of the most respected names are the Sivananda Ashram, Omkarananda Patanjala Yoga Kendra, Parmarth Niketan and Yoga Niketan Ashram. It is advisable to join a well-known ashram or a place recommended by someone, as numerous yoga or meditation classes have mushroomed all over town. Reiki, ayurvedic massage, crystal healing and other attractions for western tourists are on offer everywhere.




Photo of Yoga at Parmarth Niketan (by Ekabhishek)

Shopping in Rishikesh

The one thing most people carry back with them from Rishikesh is the holy water of the Ganga. Bottles filled with the holy waters are sold at all the major ghats. The narrow lanes of all the town are lined with shops selling gems, precious and semi-precious stones, puja items, neckpieces and religious music CDs.



Photo of accessories (by mckaysavage)

These are some of the things to do and see in Haridwar and Rishikesh. Happy journey!
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