Haridwar (The gateway to Hari/God, that’s the literal meaning) is such a holy pilgrimage that every pious Hindu desire to visit it, at least, once in a lifetime. While that is the major crowd-puller for Haridwar, the place has grown to become a major tourist spot (and this is where I would suggest checking the Haridwar hotels price list online or somewhere), for other reasons as well. There are multiple and diverse tourist attractions in and near Haridwar which can be paid a visit to, even if the primary purpose of the visit is to earn some blessings.
Har ki Pouri
Every travel blog lists this at the top and we don’t want to be the odd one out. This is actually a ghat, staircases into the Ganges River, which is supposedly built by King Vikramaditya in memory of his brother, Bharthari. Brahmakund is the most popular spot in Har ki Pouri which is almost always crowded, even during the sunrise in deep winter. The Ganga aarti (offering devotion to the Ganges) is such a fabulous event to watch that we decided to make it a separate point altogether.
This is performed with so much zeal every day that you should not miss this event. While this is not another place, per say, we included this event because it will be a lifetime experience for the tourist. The Ganges River is perhaps the purest here and when the last rays of a dying sun reflect on the water and the aarti begins, it’s a majestic view. The aarti is also organised during the sunrise which the tourists might miss because of the early timing. Beautifully lit oil lamps (diya) are offered to the deity and floated on the river. While the devotees can do it themselves, often it is done by a priest. It will be really unwise this massive moment as this can’t be seen anywhere else in India.
Sapt Rishi Ashram
The Ashram of 7 hermits (namely Kashyapa, Gautam, Vashisht, Jamadagi, Bhardwaja, Vishwamitra and Atri), as it is translated into English, this place is a must visit once you are in Haridwar. The Ashram still maintains the old age charm and presently serves as a Sanskrit teaching centre. This is around 5 km from the main city of Haridwar and is situated on the banks of Ganges. This picturesque place will surely remind you of the great heritage of India and the peaceful culture our ancestors nurtured. This place is also mentioned in the epic, Mahabharata.
Chandi Devi Temple
This is where Goddess Chandi killed the army general, Chanda-Munda, of the demon kings, Sumbha and Nishumba. In that memory, King Suchat Singh built this temple in Chandi’s honour. This is situated at the top of Neel Parvat and the way up is either via a 3 km trekking on foot from Chandighat or taking a cable car. The great 8th-century saint, Adi Sankaracharya is believed to be involved in the construction of Chandi Devi temple. When checking the Haridwar hotels price list to find a decent hotel within budget, you should check if they offer free transportation to these local places. Many hotels actually do.
Chilla Wildlife Sanctuary
An overdose of nothing is good, not even religion. Thus, let’s head towards what’s popularly known as Rajaji Wildlife Sanctuary. This is only 18 km from Haridwar and it will be foolish to miss it after coming to the sacred city. This forest has a rather diverse ecosystem with tigers, elephants and different other big cat family members roaming freely inside. The flora and fauna of this national park are simply amazing and this is a rather large wildlife sanctuary, spreading over 250 sq. Km; taking a detour here will surely be a great experience.
Finally, it’s time to head back home and thus, we need souvenirs. There is no better place in Haridwar to look for souvenir than in Bara Bazar. You can find all the divine items as well as fancy and daily use handicrafts. You will also find many decorative items for your home.