Haridwar (hari dwar) or Gateway to Heaven is a place scripted in the ancient hindus’ Vedas and Skanda Purana. In Hindu mythology Lord Vishnu is known as Hari and Shiva as Har, Dwar means gate, and it is for this reason that this place is known as Hardwar or Haridwar.
Haridwar, one of the oldest holy city lies at the foot of the Shivalik range of the Himalayas. Haridwar also stands as the gateway to the four pilgrimages Char Dham of Uttarakhand (Bhadrinath, Kedārnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri). Legend goes that when lord Shiva sent Ganga to quench the thirst of the people, she extricated herself from the matted locks of Lord Shiva and descended to the plains at Haridwar. From here, the Ganga proceeds eastwards and southwards through Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Calcutta towards Ganga Sagar, where it meets the sea.
Haridwar is home to some of the most sacred Hindu rituals, round the year, devotees from all over the country flock here to perform "Poojas" or prayers. Haridwar is known for the Kumbh and Ardh Kumbh Mela at this time millions of devotees and visitors, take a dip in the holiest of Hindu rivers Ganga, to attain salvation. The another attraction is the enchanting "Aarti" at "Har Ki Pauri" which captives the beholder with hundreds of burning wick lamps floating down the Ganga, this town has been distinguished for centuries in the Indian society.
Khumbh Mela 2010
Haridwar, this year is the venue for the Kumbha Mela 2010, the largest religious gathering in the world and is months long fair. The Kumbh mela takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries.
Kumbh Mela occurs four times every twelve years, once at each of the following four locations of India: Prayag, Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) at the confluence of three holy rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Haridwar (Uttarakhand) where the river Ganga enters the plains from Himalaya. Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), on the banks of Shipra river, and Nasik (Maharashtra) on the banks of Godavari river.
Every twelfth year Kumbh Mela is Maha Kumbh Mela which occurs at Prayag Allahabad.
Important Bathing Dates for 2010-
14 January 2010 : Makar Sankranti Snan
15 January 2010 : Mauni Amavasya and Surya Grahan
20 January 2010 : Basant Panchmi
30 January 2010 : Magh Purnima Snan
12 February 2010 : Maha Shivratri - Pratham Shahi Snan
15 March 2010 : Somvati Amavasya - Dvitya Shahi Snan
24 March 2010 : Ram Navmi
30 March 2010 : Chaitra Purnima
14 April 2010 : Baisakhi - Pramukh Shahi Snan
28 April 2010 : Shakh Purnima - Snan
History behind Kumbh Mela - The origin of the Kumbh is very old and dates back to the time when Kalasha, the pot of nectar of immortality was recovered from Samudra Manthan (during the churning of the primordial sea), for which a tense war between Devtas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) ensued. To prevent the Amrita Kalasha being forcibly taken into possession by Asuras, who were more powerful than Devtas, its safety was entrusted to the Devtas Brahaspati, Surya, Chandra and Shani. The four Devtas ran away with the Amrita Kalasha to hide it from the Asuras. Learning the conspiracy of Devtas, Asuras turned ferocious and chased the 4 Devtas running with Amrita Kalasha. The chase, lasted 12 days and nights during which the Devtas and Asuras went round the earth and during this chase, the nectar dripped from the Amrita Kalasha at four places Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain and Nasik. To commemorate this holy event of the Amrita Kalasha, Kumbh is celebrated every 12 years.
Importance of Kumbh Mela - The festival is religiously most important for the Hindus. At every Kumbh occasions, millions of Hindus take part in the celebrations. Saints, priests, and yogis from all corners of India, gathered to participate in Kumbh. Spending the entire month of Kumbh on the banks of Ganga, meditating, performing rituals and bathing thrice a day, are the Kalpvasis. The importance of Kalpavasa and its benefits are believed to be same as experiencing one day at the Brahmaloka or 4.32 billion Human years. According to the Hindu Dharma, this is the closest one may come to immortality.
The Naga Sadhus are one such, who never wear any cloth and are smeared in ash. Urdhwavahurs, who believe in putting the body through severe austerities. There are the Parivajakas, who have taken a vow of silence and go about tinkling little bells to get people out of their way. The Shirshasins stand all 24 hours and meditate for hours standing on their heads.
Mela Kshetra - Kumbha Mela will be managed by Uttarakhand Government, which will establish a temporary city called “Mela Kshetra” and including 31 police stations and 36 fire stations to monitor Bathing ghats. The Government declares a large area along the river Ganga (Ganges) for accommodating the various Akharas & Sampradayas according to the seniority of their participation and lineage, most of the religious, cultural, spiritual and trade activities happen in this area called the Mela Kshetra or Mela area. The 2010 Mela area is 8 kilometres (east-west) by 48 kilometres (north-south).
It is believed that bathing during Kumbh cures the bather of all sins and evils and grants the bather, salvation. It is also believed that at the time of Kumbh Yog, the water of Ganga is charged with positive healing effects (enhanced by electromagnetic radiations of the Sun, Moon and the Jupiter, the flux of which also varies in accordance to positions and the phases of the moon, and the + and - signs of the sun spots).
Apart from playing the host to Ardh Kumbha Mela at 'Har Ki Paudi', Haridwar is also known for being home to a large number of temples. It is among the seven sacred cities of India and is also considered to be one of the Shaktipeeths (Mansa Devi).
There are many bathing ghats at Haridwar the main ghat is Har Ki Pauri. This sacred Ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya in memory of his brother Bhartrihari. This sacred bathing ghat is also known as Brahmakund Ghat. The reflection of golden hues of floral diyas in the river Ganga is the most enchanting sight in the twilight during the Ganga Arti ceremony. Towards south of the main Ganga temple is the Asthi Prawah Ghat, where the ashes of the dead are immersed in the Ganga, the cooling waters of the river will bestow salvation upon the departed soul. Subhash Ghat, with a statue of the freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, is adjacent to Har-Ki-Pairi. South of Subhash Ghat is Gau Ghat, where people seek atonement for the sin of cow- slaughter(gau means cow) Death ceremonies were completed with the pious act of donating a cow. The sin of killing a cow is “equal to the sin of killing a Brahmin”.
How to reach - By Road - Haridwar is well connected to the major cities, it lies on the National Highway no. 58 and road network is good. There are regular buses from Delhi in every 30 minutes. The distances in km from some cities are - Delhi-214, Agra-386, Ambala-168,Badrinath-325, Dehradun-52,Kedarnath-250,Saharanpur-81,Nainital-286.
By Rail: Haridwar is well connected to the major cities of India with regular and express trains. The major trains are- 055/2056 New Delhi-Dehradun; 4309/4310 Ujjain-Dehradun; 9019/9020 Bombay-Dehradun; 4041/4042 Delhi-Dehradun; 4265/4266 Varanasi-Dehradun; 3009/3010 Howrah-Dehradun; 2017/2018 Delhi-Dehradun; 4113/4114 Allahabad-Dehradun; 5005/5006 Gorakhpur-Dehradun; 4319/4320 Dehradun-Kathgodam; 2687/2688 Dehradun-Chennai; 9265/9266 Dehradun-Okha.
By Air - Jollygrant at Dehradhun is the nearest airport i.e. 35 Kms from Haridwar. It is well connected to the major cities like Delhi etc. Regular flights are available by Indian Airlines and Jet Airways.
MORE ON : www.kumbh2010haridwar.gov.in