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Weekend Getaways From Chandigarh to Haridwar
Religious places are usually sought by people, when they plan for their vacations. Such places have a charm for travellers, who wish to go on pilgrimage and simultaneously, they can also have visit to some important sightseeing places. Tour packages are also being planned out for the pilgrimage places in a customised manner, so that tourists can spend some quality time in the religious surroundings, while ascertaining that they enjoy their stay to the fullest. If the religious place is having sightseeing places, apart from the temples and shrines, then it is an advantage for tourists as they can get rejuvenated, along with receiving the blessings of the gods. India has plenty of such locations, which are highly suitable for weekend getaways, where tourists can stay on for a couple of days and get along visiting the important places.
Situated along the River Ganges, in the plains of Uttarakhand, where the Ganga flows into the plains for the first time, after descending from the Himalayans, the splendid city of Haridwar is a favourite destination for many devotees of Hinduism. It is one of the most famous hindu pilgrimage sites in the country, having mentions in the mythological descriptions of gods such as Shiva, Lord Vishnu and many others. Haridwar is having various meanings in mythology, some believing that it is the gateway to Lord Vishnu and the pilgrimage to Char Dhams, should start from this place. There are devotees of Lord Shiva, who believe that Haridwar also represents the gateway to Lord Shiva and the start of the trips to Chota Char Dhams, representing Shiva starts from Haridwar. Many other anecdotes are associated with the place, mostly associated with Indian and Hindu scriptures and religious texts. After flowing for about 253 kms from the source at Gangotri Glacier, at Gaumukh, the ganges flows down into the Indo Gangetic valley at the city of Haridwar. Hindus consider the place of Haridwar as one of the seven holiest places in India. it is believed that the holy nectar, carried by Garuda, fell on Haridwar and hence, it is considered as a site for Kumbh Mela, which is held once every 3 years, with three other places having the Kumbh Mela also. Hence, in Haridwar, the Kumbh Mela is organised once in 12 years and during this festival, which is usually held in the month of July, millions of devotees congregate at the site and take a holy dip in the ganges. History of Haridwar is said to extend since long time, possibly from the time of the mythology and Indian civilisation. According to legends, it was the penance of King Bhagirath, which brought the flow of Ganges down to the lands, and as a mark of this event, people take a dip in the holy waters for salvation. Many archaeological findings tell about the excavations of artefacts used by people of the civilisation, dating back to about 3rd century BC, when Mauryan empire existed in the region. King Harshavardhana had his rule in the area, probably during the 7th century AD. Although Mughal kings like Akbar had visited the region of Haridwar, they didn’t have much influence on the lands, with history of Raja Man Singh of Amber showing his contribution in the establishment of the present day Haridwar, with renovation of the ghats. Since Haridwar is one of the most ancient cities of India, many structures and buildings also date back long years back. Over the years, till the time of independence, the city had a rich culture and tradition, centred on the river Ganga, but the modern day development is also seeping in with some industrial belts being encouraged by the state government.
Haridwar is located at about 200 kms from Delhi and has good road and train communications from various cities of India. by air, tourists on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Haridwar can arrive in the Jolly Grant Airport of Dehradun, which is about 20 kms from the city of Haridwar. Train services to Haridwar are quite good, with lots of regular and express trains running to Haridwar, from various places in the country. From Delhi, it takes about 5 hours of travel in trains, while from Dehradun it takes about 1 hour. Many express trains have haridwar in their stoppages and local trains run between local cities, including Haridwar, mostly those plying inside the state and nearby bordering regions. Buses are a good way of transportation to Haridwar, with the bus station being almost inside the city. It allows tourists to get down in the city and they can travel to different places by walking. Those who wish to travel for weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Haridwar, can also arrange their taxis from the city of Chandigarh or can have the drive on the roads by their personal vehicles. Travelling to haridwar during the peak festival seasons is a bit clumsy due to heavy traffic.
Due to the pilgrimage significance of the city of Haridwar, lodgings are usually not an issue. If tourists can book the hotels prior to their travel, then it would serve them good since the traffic can get very hectic in the hotels during peak seasons. In the hotels, bookings can be done online, allowing a smooth affair for arranging accommodations. Since many devotees arrive here for different rituals, there are various ashrams and guest houses, which are available at nominal prices. These can be availed by advance booking, as well as by arriving in Haridwar and making their bookings. For the convenience of the tourists, there are various lodges, guesthouses and even resorts and few star hotels for particular customers who are seeking the luxury settings. On weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Haridwar, tourists can find a number of suitable accommodations for their staying, and that too in best comfort.
Famous sightseeing places
Religious sites and pilgrimage places are found in plenty in the city of Haridwar, which have become famous tourist spots for those coming on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Haridwar. Har ki Pauri is one of the most well known ghats along the river Ganges in Haridwar, which is also known as Brahmakund. At this place, it is believed that the holy nectar, being carried by Garuda spilled over in drops and henceforth, the place is considered to be very auspicious among hindu pilgrims. This is also the site for the 12 yearly Kumbh Mela held in Haridwar. During this particular occasion, devotees take a dip in the holy river and perform aarti on the banks, which is done to seek divine blessings. This ghat was supposed to be built initially by King Vikramaditya, which has been later renovated by many of the rulers and devotees. Chandi Devi temple is a famous temple in Haridwar, which was built by a king of Kashmir, on the top of Neel Parvat. It is accessed by going on a 3 km long trek, starting from Chandi Ghat. Many believe that the main idol of deity Chandi Devi was established in 8th century AD by Adi Shankaracharya. Maya Devi mandir is the main temple of Haridwar, which is the temple of goddess Sati. It is believed that the navel of Sati fell on this spot, when her body parts were being carried by Lord Shiva and from the name of this temple, the town is also known as Mayapur. This is regarded as one of the 51 shaktipeeths in India. Mansa Devi temple is one more important temple in haridwar, which is visited during weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Haridwar and it is located on top of a hill, near to the centre of the town. There are facilities of cable car in order to reach the Maya Devi and Chandi Devi temples. Although the temple structure itself is not quite exquisite, yet the views from the hill top are worth watching. Bharat Mata mandir is a much later addition to the structures found in Haridwar, which is a symbol of Indian culture and heritage. The temple is about 7 storied high, with small sections, which have various deities and idols of famous Indian personalities. In Haridwar, tourists can find many more temples, which are possible to be visited, but it requires a lot of time to go for each and every temple. Ashrams in Haridwar have a lot of significance from tourism point of view as these are sites for various ayurvedic treatments and for learning yoga. Many people with illnesses arrive in Haridwar to pray for their relief and stay in the ashrams, where they are provided with yoga therapies and other treatment options. Also, these ashrams serve as places of accommodations. Many of the ashrams also have well known saints and sages, who worship various gods and also perform the rituals in Hinduism, which many people require to perform. Maa Anandamayee Ashram, Sapt Rishi Ashram, Patanjali Yogpeeth, etc are some of the well known ashrams in Haridwar. In Haridwar, there is a temple built with glass, which goes by the name of Pawan Dham, now has become a popular tourist destination. This was initiated by Swami Vedantanandji and people from Punjab have contributed for this place.
Places near Haridwar
Although the religious ambience inside Haridwar is very much liked by the tourists on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Haridwar, there are also some excursion sites around Haridwar, which are possible to be visited by tourists. Rajaji National Park is a small sanctuary in the Doon Valley, about 10 kms from haridwar, on the Rishikesh-Haridwar route. Plenty of animal and plant species can be found in the region and is a good place to go deep into the jungle on elephant safaris. Rishikesh is another important place of pilgrimage for hindu devotees and is about 26 kms from Haridwar, which is visited by tourists on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to haridwar. At about 30 minutes drive from Haridwar, is a well known picnic spot, known as Lachhiwala. Chilla Wildlife sanctuary is located at the eastern bank of River Ganges and has a thick vegetation, which is influenced by the river. From the trip of safari into the Chilla Wildlife sanctuary, the views of Ganges and the mountains beyond are quite picturesque. Tehri Dam is often frequented by tourists, who like to watch the stagnant water in the huge reservoir and the nearby town of New Tehri is worth seeing, due to its planned roads and settlements. Devprayag is the confluence of the rivers Alkananda and Bhagirathi, which unite to form the Ganges. This is one of the five confluences made by Alkananda river and is the starting point of the Ganga River. It is also the place of sages, who reside at the Bhagirathi Dham. Some tourists can also visit the hill station of Dehradun, which is about 53 kms from Haridwar, which is also the capital of Uttaranchal and a favourite tourist spot. About 38 kms from Haridwar is a sacred place for the Shiva devotees, which goes by the name of Neelkanth Mahadev, which is having rich heritage and anecdotes from history.
Best season to visit
Being in the plains, the town of Haridwar has almost a subtropical climate, where rainfall can be good in the monsoons, while winters are cooler. There are summer months, where temperature variations are quite extreme, ranging from 25 deg C to about 44 deg C. For tourists on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Haridwar, visiting haridwar during the winters can be a good option, although temperatures can sometimes get lowered to a great extent. Hence it is better to get the winter clothing along.
Central Haridwar, where the concentration of ashrams and temples is seen, mostly along the River Ganga, the visitors usually commute on foot, as it is easier to travel in the rush. Those who are not able to travel by foot, can hire the local cycle and auto rickshaws, for the convenience in travel. For distant excursions, taxis and hire cars are also available from local travel agencies. These can be found in the bus stations and also in the train stations, although such means of conveyance are usually quite hectic and rushed. Buses are also plying from the bus stations, to the nearby places of excursions, which can be used by tourists on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Haridwar.
Being a vegetarian city by means of official declaration, tourists coming to Haridwar, get plenty of varieties of vegetarian cuisine. These are usually served in the restaurants and diners in form of thalis, where the food items comprise of daal, rice, rotis, curries, and few other items. Such meal systems are liked by the tourists, while many temples also serve the prasads which are offered to people after being offered to the deities. Road side stalls are also good options for tourists on weekend getaways from Chandigarh to Haridwar, who can have a variety of freshly prepared snacks.