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Listed under Sacred Spaces in Haridwar, India.

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Hardwar or Haridwar, is one of the holiest places for Hindus in India. It is significant that pilgrims often go from Haridwar to the two great Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath and Badrinath, as Har means Shiva (the deity of Kedarnath), Hari means Vishnu (the deity of Badrinath), and Dwar means gate. Hardwar is thus the gateway to the two holy shrines of Shiva and Vishnu. The town has also been called Gangadvar, meaning 'Door of the Ganga' as it is here that the sacred river Ganges leaves the mountains to flow out upon the Indian plains. Throughout the year large numbers of pilgrims come to bathe in the Ganges, especially at the Hari-ka-charan ghat, where a footprint of Vishnu is worshipped.

A large pilgrimage festival is held every year in April at the beginning of the Hindu solar year. Every twelve years the great festival of Kumbha Mela is held and every six years an Ardh Kumbha, or half Kumbha. During these important festivals millions of pilgrims throng to Hardwar from throughout India. Hardwar is also one of India’s Moksapuris, or Seven Sacred Cities, where moksha, or spiritual liberation, may be more easily attained. Twenty-four kilometers north of Hardwar is another holy town named Rishikesh, meaning 'abode of the mystic sages'. These two places, Hardwar and Rishikesh, have place-names that indicate their spiritual rather than secular attributes. Nowadays both towns are bustling social centers, yet in ancient times they were quiet forests groves, nestled along a rushing mountain river; the perfect place for contemplation and a life in harmony with the ways of nature.

Hardwar on the Sacred Sites Website.

Written by  Martin Gray.

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