Haridwar, The Gateway to the Gods, is an important Hindu pilgrimage centre located at the point where the Ganges emerges from the Himalayas.
Also called Hardwar, it is one of the seven holiest sites in Hindu mythology and devotees believe that the Gods left their mark on the city when the deities came to bathe in the holy river. Indeed the main ghat at Haridwar, Hari-ki-Pauri, is known for a footprint of Vishnu on a stone in a wall.
The masses of pilgrims seek purity and a cleansing of karma by bathing in the often fast-flowing Ganges and their colourful rituals add to the bustling reverence of the town.
The Ganga Aarti is celebrated daily at 7pm when a floating procession of lamps and flowers are released to drift down the river. The Aarti is performed at all of the main temples and makes for an enchanting sight as hundreds of miniature lights flicker along the river, reflected in its mystical surface.
The city has a treasure of ancient and modern temples, dharamsalas (pilgrim rest houses) and ashram complexes.
Also famous for its Ayurvedic medicines, the city has a vital spiritual atmosphere as well as being the gateway to nearby Rajaji National Park.
Ananda spa, voted best spa in the world 2012 | Watching the ritual of bathing in the Ganges | The Ganga Aarti – floating procession of lights on water each evening
Haridwar is regarded as one of the seven holiest places to Hindus.