A pilgrimage trip on India is probably one of the most unique travel ideas, that a travel enthusiast can come up with. Since the country is popular for its several religions, religious institutions and diverse practices, a trip exploring some of these would be quite a recreational experience, while it will also offer you some cultural as well as spiritual glimpses into the country's identity and authenticity.
Planning to design a trip to the historical places of India? Then do not miss out on Uttarakhand's Haridwar and Rishikesh, two of the most prominent places in the country, for a pilgrimage, where you can see the holy Ganges, bathe in the waters of it and wash away your sins, as believed by the devout Hindu pilgrims. This is one of the top 10 pilgrim destinations in the country.
Haridwar and Rishikesh are located in the northern hilly state of India, Uttarakhand, and are two most holy towns in the country, because of the river Ganga, that flows a long distance from Gangotri Glacier, Gaumukh, to Haridwar, and also in Rishkesh, which is settled completely on the banks of the river.
Haridwar and Rishikesh together form a major part of the complete pilgrimage of this northern state, including Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, and begins at Rishikesh.
The two towns together form a major part of the complete pilgrimage of this northern state, including Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, and begins at Rishikesh. Both the places have mythological importance for the country, along with spiritual, as it is believed that in the popular myth of ' Samudra Manthan ', few drops of elixir were dropped here by the celestial bird, Garuda (as per Hindu Mythology), and hence people come here in great numbers to take a dip in the holy river, and it is a sight to look at with devotees, ascetics, priests and many people, all at the ghats of Ganges.
Har Ki Paudi:
This is the iconic ghat where the drops of elixir were believed to be dropped (accidentally) by the Garuda, in Hindu Mythology, and the precise spot is called Brahma Kund. This was constructed sometime in 1st century BC by Vikramaditya. Every evening , aarti ( a religious ritual), takes place at this ghat with enchanting mantras and bell echoes, which makes for a lovely scene.
On every other step, at the banks of the river Ganga, you will find a temple dedicated to various gods of the Hindus. A few notable temples from these are, Chandi Devi Temple, a 20th century structure built by a Kashmiri King; Mansa Devi Temple at the top of the Bilwa Parvat; Maya Devi temple, an 11th century structure; Bhairav Temple and Narayanai Shila Devi Temple, all of which are iconic places.
An interesting town in Haridwar for some important mythological stories, Kankhal is famous for two attractions, the Daksheswara Mahadeva Temple and the Sati Kund. Sati was Lord Shiva's first wife and Daksha was her father. According to the mythological legends, after seeing her husband getting insulted by her father, Sati self immolated herself here, at the spot which is now called Sati Kund, and in the memory of this entire legend the temple was constructed.
Since it is is popular pilgrimage place, you would not find luxury resorts or five star hotels here, while various comfortable ashrams have been opened to provide shelter to the devotees and the tourists, who come to see all this cultural brilliance. Some notable ashrams are Jiaram Ashram, Sapt Rishi Ashram, Ramanand Ashram, and Anandamany Maa Ashram, all of which will also give you information about the myths and legends regarding the pilgrimage.
One of the most popular practicing Yoga guru, Baba Ramdev's institute, Patanjali Yogapeeth is situated on the Delhi-Haridwar Highway. Many of the yoga learners and Swami's disciples come here, everyday.
One of the major landmarks of Rishikesh, Lakshman Jhula is an iron bridge constructed over Ganga, to cross the river. The place has its own mythological legends associated with it. The Bridge was built in 1939 only, while earlier it was only a rope bridge.
You should also be aware that, Rishkesh and Haridwar are two most adventurous destinations in the Northern India, with their amazing trekking routes, and water sports, which you can enjoy along with a pilgrimage tour. Some popular sports you can try are white water rafting, bungee jumping, hiking, and camping.
Important Informations about this pilgrimage:
· Since Haridwar is the place where Ganga joins the Indo- Gangetic plains, it was earlier known as Gangadwara.
· The town has some of the best educational institutions in the country, which are worth taking a look at.
· The temples in Haridwar are mostly located on the hill tops, and hence rope ways are also used to reach these temples.
· The etymology of the places comes from Hindu Mythology, as Haridwar means Hari's (Lord Vishnu) dwar (gateway) or the Gateway to Lord Vishnu, and Rishikesh is made of Rishik (Senses) and Ish (Lord), which means Lord of the Senses, a reference to Vishnu.
· Rishkesh is also a popular place for Yoga studies in many of its centers, a place which inspired even the legendary music band The Beatles, for their album, 'White Album', in around 1968.