Haridwar (huh-rihd-wahr) literally means the Gateway to God, is one of the Hindu holy places in India and a centre of Hindu religion and mysticism for centuries. Located on the banks of the River Ganges (Ganga), at the point where the Ganges descends from the hills to the North Indian plains, Haridwar attracts a large number of Hindu pilgrims from all over the world.
Haridwar is the site of many religious festivals. Most notably, once every twelve years it is the venue for the Kumbh Mela, the world's largest festival, which drew a record 70 million people in 2003. (The festival rotates between Haridwar and Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik.) The Ardh Mela, or "half mela", is held every six years. The last Maha Kumbh Mela was in 2010, and the last Ardh Mela was in 2016.
Other yearly festivals include:
- Baisakhi, It is held in the month of April and devotees from Jharkhand, Bihar, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana converge here to celebrate the auspicious festival Baisakhi.
- Kanwar Mela, July. The largest yearly festival, drawing up to 300,000 visitors.
- Kartik Purnima, held 15 days after Diwali on the first night of the full moon in November.
- Somwati Amavasya, July. Almost as large as the Kanwar Mela.
While the festivals are colorful and fascinating, they also strain the town's limited infrastructure to the breaking point and sometimes beyond. Book rooms and tickets well in advance, and avoid travel by road as the traffic jams can be horrendous.
Haridwar is about 200 km from Delhi, the capital of India and is well connected by road and rail network from all parts of India. It is better to avoid travelling to Haridwar during the Hindu month of Sawan (around July) since there is a heavy crowd and all important roads are blocked and most of the hotels, buses, and trains are crowded.
It is also not good choice to visit this place during the monsoon season (late May to August) as the rain will hinder your visit.
To travel from Delhi to Haridwar you can rent a car or private taxi. You can also prefer to go by train as frequent trains are available and those are less costly as compared to private cabs.
Dehradun's Jolly Grant Airport is nearest airport to Haridwar. It is domestic airport 20 km away from the city centre. Taxis from the airport to Haridwar cost ₹400. Frequent flights from Delhi are available as well.
Around 200 km away, Delhi is the nearest international airport, which is well connected to domestic and foreign airports.
- See also: Rail travel in India
Haridwar Junction Railway Station (IR station code : HW) is well-connected by train, with frequent trains to Delhi (4-5 hours) and Dehradun (1 hour). There are also a few trains per day to Rishikesh, but buses are faster and much more frequent. The train station is located on the south side of town, within walking distance to most hotels but a 2-km hike to Hari-ki-Pairi.
- 1 Haridwar Junction railway station.
Here are some useful trains to reach Haridwar:
|Train Number||Train Name||You may board at||You may alight at|
|12017||Shatabdi Express||New Delhi||Haridwar Junction|
|12055||Jan Shatabdi Express||New Delhi||Haridwar Junction|
|14041||Mussoorie Express||New Delhi||Haridwar Junction|
|12327||Upasana Express||Howrah (Kolkata), Lucknow||Haridwar Junction|
|13009||Doon Express||Howrah (Kolkata), Varanasi, Lucknow||Haridwar Junction|
|12687||Chennai-Dehradun Express||Chennai, Nizamuddin (Delhi)||Haridwar Junction|
|12054||Jan Shatabdi Express||Amritsar||Haridwar Junction|
|14632||Amritsar-Dehradun Express||Amritsar||Haridwar Junction|
|14610||Hemkunt Express||Jammu||Haridwar Junction|
|19105||Ahmedabad-Haridwar Mail||Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Delhi||Haridwar Junction|
|19019||Bandra-Dehradun Express||Bandra Terminus (Mumbai), Nizamuddin (Delhi)||Haridwar Junction|
Haridwar's bus station, close to the train station, is chaotic and has no signage whatsoever in English. There are regular bus services from Delhi (theoretically 4 hours, in practice 6-8 hours), Rishikesh (1 hour) and other important towns of North India to Haridwar. Before booking the bus check the bus condition. Always go for cushioned and push-back seats. The long and bumpy ride will take a toll on your mood and body.
As there is shortage of AC buses during summer vacations so always go before 1 or 1.5 hour your suitable time so as to get the prior reservation.
Central Haridwar can be comfortably covered on foot. However, taxis and auto-rickshaws can be available at train and bus stations.
Haridwar is nicely connected by train and bus, but remember to book in advance, especially during pilgrimage season.
Cycle rickshaws usually cost ₹10 for nearer distance, while ₹25 for longer distance such as from main station to Har-ki-Pairi. If you want to hire a taxi for more than three hours to visit ashrams and local temples then it may cost you ₹400. For similar distance, auto-rickshaws can cost around ₹200.
- 1 Bharat Mata Mandir (भारत माता मंदिर). 5 km north of the centre. Dedicated to Mother India, this is half temple, half nation building exercise, with seven floors stacked with deities, saints, and secular heroes of all Indian faiths. Some signage in English.
- 2 Chandi Devi Mandir (चण्डी देवी मंदिर). A temple dedicated to Chand Devi on the Neel Parval. It was built in 1929 by Suchat Singh the King of Kashmir. The deity was said to have been installed by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century. A cable car is available for the long journey
- 3 Har-ki-Pauri (हर की पौड़ी). To the north of the centre, this is Haridwar's focal point, where devotees gather to bathe and worship on the Ganges. According to legend, this is where a drop of nectar fell from the churning of the oceans when the world was created, and a stone wall has Vishnu's footprint. Each evening around 7PM (5:45PM in winter) thousands gather and worship the river Goddess by putting diyas (floating lamps) in the river. You may be asked to make a donation if you linger near the ghats. Beware of con artists posing as officials. If you would like to make a donation there are boxes at the centre of the ghats around the light poles.
- 4 Maya Devi Mandir (माया देवी मंदिर). Located on upper road. This temple is one of the 51 "shakti peeths" and its the presiding deity of Haridwar. It is from this temple Haridwar derives its other name Mayapur.
- 5 Mansa Devi Mandir (मनसा देवी मंदिर, हरिद्वार). At top of hill near the centre of town. Can be reached by cable car (₹48 for a return ticket) or by a road that gently winds uphill (about 2 km), starting from Railway Rd. The temple is aesthetically not particularly noteworthy, but the views are grand. Expect to queue to board the cable car and once more to enter the temple: despite some rudimentary attempts at crowd control, the crowds of jostling devotees can make this a pretty intense experience.
- 6 Sureshwari Devi Temple (सुरेश्वरी देवी मंदिर). Located outside of Haridwar and within the Rajaji National Park, this serene and religious site is a place to see. Permission to enter this site is required from forest rangers.
- Daksheswar Mahadev Temple (Daksha Mahadev Mandir), Kankhal, Haridwar (about 4 km from Haridwar Railway/bus station). Daksheswar Mahadev or Daksha Mahadev temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in the Kankhal. This temple is linked with the story of Mata Sati, Lord Shiva & Daksha Prajapati.
- 1 A day out in Rajaji National Park. While walking around the park you can spot elephant, leopard and deer. The bird life is prolific here and there is a large elephant population. The 5-hour tour costs around ₹1,800 per person, and it can be done during mid afternoon or early morning. It is spread over the foothills of the Himalayas and Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri.
- Divya Yog Mandir Trust University (16 km from Haridwar). Founded by Baba Ramdev.
- Gayatri Tirth - Shantikunj, Dehradoon Road, Haridwar (6 km from Railway Station,), ☏ . Nine days (Personality Development Camp) through practising Scientific Spirituality i.e. Yoga, Yagna, Meditation, Prayer, Motivational Seminar, Workshop, Song and art of living. Registration required. Dates: 1-9, 11-19, 21-29, three camps every month, throughout the year.
- Learn Yoga in Ashram. Patanajali Yog Peeth is a centre of Ayurveda and Yoga activities in Haridwar. It is built as a tribute to Maharishi Patanjali, who significantly contributed to the invention of Yoga. This ashram is operated under the supervision of Swami Ramdev Ji Maharaj, who has been promoting Yoga all over the world.
Haridwar, the holy city is one of the most renowned pilgrimage centres in India. Pilgrims from all over the world flock to this sacred city to take a dip in the holy waters of River Ganga. Being a destination for pilgrimage tourism, shopping in Haridwar is not on the itinerary of the tourist.
However shops in Haridwar have some interesting things to offer to the tourist. The main shopping centres are Moti bazaar, Upper Road, Jwalapur and Kankhal. You can also check out the Government Handloom and Handicrafts Emporiums and the Gandhi Ashram. Offers a range of handicraft decorative pieces. If you are interested in jewellery, then you can choose from a variety of imitation ones which make good fashion accessory.
In Haridwar, you will find neatly and intricately carved stone idols, which make unique souvenirs. It is fascinating that these stones have traversed with Ganga all along and they are eventually deposited in Rishikesh as the river enters the plains. This gives the stones amazing shapes and a natural polish. Besides idols, there are kitchen set toys made from stone, which are interesting.
- Shri Ganga Gift kendra, Moti Bazar (Towards Her-Ki-Pauri). Sells rudraksh mala, sphatic mala, chandan mala and other chandan articles.
Haridwar is a purely vegetarian town.
- Bhagwati Chole Wala, Upper Road Haridwar (en route to Mansa Devi Temple). 8AM-6PM. Good for breakfast and lunch. Bhagwati choley wala is an old institution making a scrumptious breakfast of chole (Bengal gram) baturey, bun bread and choley, mixed minced buns in choley gravy and rice choley. They attract a large crowd and usually serve piping hot choley stew with every meal. The meal priced ₹30 each is served on a plate and leaf covering along with salad. Their buns in choley and lassi are particularly good.
- Chotiwalas Asli, Subhash Ghat. Claiming to be the original, unfranchised Chotiwalas, this is the first shop right below the steps when walking south from Hari-ki-Pairi. The "Chotiwalas Special" (₹75) is a super-filling concoction of paneer and veggies in a creamy tomato base, topped with cheese and yogurt.
- Chotiwalas, Subhash Ghat (and other outlets around town).. The closest Haridwar gets to McDonald's (not very), serves up a wide menu of South and North Indian favourites, with some Indian-Chinese thrown in. Most meals around ₹60.
- Dada Boudir Hotel, Railway Road (5 mins from rail station by rickshaw towards Har ki pairi). This is a tasty Bengali eatery, serving lunch and dinner. Dehradun rice with ghee, fries, 2 curries, chutney, dal, etc. are ₹45 per head including multiple servings.
- Didir Hotel ((Behala)), Opposite Hotel Vishrant Vishnughat. 9AM-11PM. Didir Hotel is a convenient location located at Vishnughat and famous for its multiple serving Thalis. Costing ₹40, as of August 2011, it consists of hot rice with ghee, fritters, 1 dry and 1 curries, along with Daal (which is typically sweet sour) and a sweet chutney at the end. Known for its Dhokaar Dalna, and it serves multiple rotis along with curries at ₹40.
- Dosa Plaza (opposite to Haridwar railway station), ☏ . A chain that offers 104 varieties of dosas, along with Indian and Chinese food.
- 1 Hoshiyarpuriwala (Hoshiyar Puri) (7-8 min walk from Hari-Ki-Pairi). This shop is old and claims to have started in year 1935. It has a wide variety of North Indian delicacies. The thali used to cost ₹80, but they have reportedly stopped serving it. They also have a house special dessert: Khaao India Khaao.
- Hotel Alpana, Ram Ghat (400 meters from Hari-ki-Pairi), ☏ , . Claiming to be the new, clean Alpana. The "Alpana Meal" is ₹75 breakfast & ₹150 for lunch & ₹150 for dinner.
- Kwality Mysore Restaurant, Upper Road towards Mansa devi and har Ki pauri. A good South Indian restaurant serving South Indian thalis and snacks. Dosas are the speciality.
- Mashir Hotel, Vishnughat (5 minutes from Sabji Mandi). 8AM-11PM. Completely Bengali eatery serving basmati rice, along with dal, 2 seasonal curries, 1 fried item, chutney and ghee, unlimited servings. Breakfast of puri sabji is priced at ₹15 for 6 pooris and 1 sabzi. ₹40.
- Sindh dugdh Bhandar, Rly. rd. Haridwar (north), ☏ . Popular since 1948, it is well maintained and a multi-cuisine restaurant with very good service and air conditioned, which is unusual in the town.
- Spice N Nice (Main Jwalapur Haridwar Road), ☏ . Serve Punjabi, South Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisines.
Alcohol is banned in Haridwar.
- Deluxe Dada Boudir Hotel ((A Unit of Mashir Hotel)), Below Hotel Lions (opposite Birla House). 10AM-10PM. Bengali cuisine, such as Basmati ride, Dal, 2 seasonal curries, 1 fried item, chutney and ghee.
- Kreams n Kountry, Station road haridwar (on road to Post Office chawk from the railway station it falls on the right side of the road). The Pao Bhaji is delicious speciality. But the other notable products include Rajma chawal, veggie burger, chats of all kind, and ice creams..The staff are helpful and polite.
- Mohan Puri, Harki Pauri. The most famous food shop at Harki Pauri and everything fits in budget. But due to high tourist rush it is a bit congested in festival seasons.
- Sushanto Choley Kulche wala, Ramghat main bazaar en route to Mansa Devi Temple curve. 8AM-10PM. Excellent chloe for kulche with hot stew. ₹20.
For most of the hotels the check-in time is noon. Plenty of Dharmshalas are also available in Haridwar. A cluster of new, modern hotels has sprung up in Bhopatwala, some 5 km north of the city centre.
- 1 Ambience Guest House, Shravan Nath Nagar, near Harmilap Bhawan (5-minute ride from railway station/bus stand, 10 minutes from Harki Pauri), ☏ . AC/Non-AC rooms available.
- Hotel Bhagwati Niwas, Sabzi Mandi, (near Vishnu Ghat), Haridwar, ☏ , . On the banks of the Ganges. All room facing Gangaji with private ghat!
- Hotel Haridwar Residency, 55 Kankhal Road (The Shiv Murti roundabout is the closest landmark, approximately 30 seconds' walk from the hotel entrance.), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 11AM. Modern, clean and peaceful hotel located 3 minutes' walk from the Haridwar railway and bus station. Air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned rooms available, all with private bathrooms. Singles, doubles, triples and four bed rooms available with 24-hour reception. Contact Mohit Manchanda via email or mobile for reservation. 300-2500.
- Hotel Ganga Azure, Railway Road, near Shivmurti, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. Small, not entirely clean rooms. Hot water available from 6-8AM only, but the shower may be broken. The hotel restaurant (Big Ben) is well liked, but somewhat below-priced. ₹700/₹1500 (Air-con & non-air-con, negotiable).
- Hotel Gayatri Classic, Shravan Nath Nagar, near Harmilap Bhawan (5-minute ride from railway station/bus stand, 10 minutes from Harki Pauri), ☏ . Air-con & non-air-con rooms.
- Hotel Golden, Near Shivmurti, Kankhal Road, ☏ (Manager - Mr. Negi), firstname.lastname@example.org. A budget hotel. ₹500.
- Hotel Jimmy, Sharawan Nath Nagar (Sadhubela Marg),, ☏ . Air-con & non-air-con rooms with hot/cold water. Has a cyber cafe.
- Rahi Motel. Government Tourist Lodge.
- Shri Ram Sharnam Ashram, 511-A, Sapta Sarovar Marg, Bhopatwala (near Agrasen Ghat), ☏ , email@example.com.
- Bhaj-Govindam, near Bhimgoda Bridge (entrance is through a narrow alley and around a corner, look for the signs). Charming,hut-style accommodation, with a common lawn area over-looking the river. (Air-con in some rooms). ₹900/₹1550.
- Chitra Heritage, Chitra cinema Street, Haridwar (It is 3 mins walk from the railway station and 10mins walk from har-ki-pauri), ☏ , , firstname.lastname@example.org. Air-con & non-air-com rooms available at ₹700/₹3490. All room are spacious and front sided. Parking facilities are available.
- 2 Hotel Ganga Darshan, email@example.com. Is situated at Har-Ki- Pauri Haridwar in close proximity to Banks, Shopping Complexes and local market. Air-con & non-air-con rooms available at ₹950/₹1250/₹1550. All room are spacious and front sided. Parking facilities are available.
- Hotel LandMark, Main Jwalapur Haridwar Road, ☏ . Prime location provides easy access to Har-ki-Pauri in the heart of the haridwar, Daksh Mahadev Temple in the Khankhal city, and the commercial market area on the Main Jwalapur Haridwar Road. Rooms have air-con. Rooms from ₹1000.
- Teerth, ☏ . Subhash Ghat, Hari-Ki-Pairi. Riverside accommodation right next to Hari-Ki-Pairi, the main selling point is the great river views from the balconies. Rooms have air-con, and are spacious & clean. Rooms from ₹1200.
- Virasat Residency, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Chitra cinema Street, Haridwar. It is 3 min walk from the railway station and 10 mins walk from har-ki-pauri. Air-con & non-air-con room at ₹1050/₹550. All room are spacious and front sided. Parking facilities are available.
- County Inn & Suites, ☏ . Haripur Kalan, Motichur. Run by the Carlton group, this is the only international branded hotel in Haridwar and probably the best of the bunch. The main drawback is the location, some 6 km out of town.
- 3 Ganga Lahari, Gou Ghat (around 500m from Har Ki Pauri). Close to Har Ki Pauri, rooms open to a central corridor facing the river. Part of the same management running Haveli Hari Hanga
- Ginger Haridwar, Bhopatwala (opp. Dudhadhari Temple), ☏ . Clean, minimalistic hotel operated by the Ginger chain.
- 4 Haveli Hari Ganga, 21 Pilibhit House, Ram Ghat (in the bazaar), ☏ , fax: . A comfortably appointed hotel/spa with a private ghat and balconies (few rooms) overlooking the river. From ₹2800.
- Hotel Hari Heritage, 1 Shyamlok, Opp. Shantikunj, Rishikesh Road, ☏ , . Can also be stated as pride of Haridwar in terms of redefining hospitality, quality of Rooms, Service and Restaurant Temptation and Banquet Celebration ₹2999 and up.
- Hotel Shiv Murti, Railway Rd (near Shivmurti chouk). A big hotel with more than 30 air-con & non-air-con clean rooms with attached bathroom. Hot water available 6-9AM only. The hotel restaurant serves good food. Tariff ₹500 non-AC, ₹1,000 air-com. Special offer for regular customer, you need to show the last bill (negotiable)..
During festivals, especially the Kumbh Mela, Haridwar is packed to bursting and beyond. Stampedes are a regular occurrence, with over 50 killed in 1986, 21 killed in 2003 and 5 killed in 2010; the bridges across the Ganges are the most dangerous spot.
Alcohol is strictly banned in Haridwar. So don't get trapped in any illegal alcohol consumption as no one wants to end his journey in prison.
Similar to other holy places, Haridwar has significant number of beggars and charlatans. Watch out for the motives of Sadhus trying to offer some one-to-one tutoring in return of money. Beware of greedy monkeys which may attack anytime to grab food from your hands. Be watchful when you walk, as cows and their abundant leftovers can be seen on the roads.
- Rishikesh - "Haridwar lite" 26 km upriver, popular with backpackers; literally meaning Lord of Senses, Rishikesh stands for Lord Vishnu and the city is blessed with holy river Ganges
- Rajaji National Park - developed by integrating Motichur sanctuary, Chilla sanctuary and Rajaji Sanctuary, Rajaji National Park lies between Haridwar and Rishikesh and is worth a stopover on your way to Rishikesh
- Sapta Rishi Ashram - a few kilometres from Haridwar, the ashram is believed to have been the meditation ground of seven sages