May 2, 2010

Rishikesh, The world capital of Yoga, is one of the holy cities in India. It is known as the gateways to the Himalayas and the starting point for traveling to Char Dhaam pilgrimage - Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. It is the place where river Ganga leaves the Shivalik mountains in the Himalayas and flows out into the plains of North India.
It has many yoga (meditation) centres attracting thousands of devotees, pilgrims and tourists thoughout the world. Rishikesh is ideal destination for religious, wildlife, nature and adventure lovers. Prominent band, The Beatles composed nearby 48 songs during their stay at Rishikesh.

Triveni Ghat: It is believed that three mountain streams flow together on this spot making the ghat(bank) more sacred, and famous all over. The Ganga Aarti performed at dusk at the Triveni Ghat is popular with visitors. Anyone can enjoy the holy ritual - releasing tiny oil lamps on flower bedecked leaf boats and let them float down the river. The depiction of Geeta Saar is eye-catching specially at the eve, where Lord Krishna explaining Geeta to Arjuna at the lighting chariot. Another one is the prototype of Shiv-Parvati being at Himalaya. Nearby is the Rishikund or sages's pond.

Ram Jhula: This bridge is similar in appearance as Lakshman Jhula. You can enjoy the boating near Ram Jhula and have a bathe at the nearby ghats. Geeta Bhawan is the oldest temple in the nearby area. The famous Indian epic the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are scratched here on the walls. It also houses an Ayurvedic dispensary and shops selling khadi and religious literature. Similarly Parmarth Niketan is another most renowned temple and ashram in this area. The ashram organises excellent Ganga Aarti, hawan and other proceedings on the Parmarth Ghat at every evening.

You can also have lunch and snacks at the famous Chotiwala, who run their restaurants in a funny and innovative way presenting some Chotiwala person at their gate. You can enjoy a plesant 2 km walk from Ram Jhula to Lakshman Jhula alongside flowing and breezing Ganga.

Lakshman Jhula: It is an iron bridge, made over river Ganga. It is said that Lakshman crossed Ganga on juite ropes between the place where this bridge is built. The bridge offers a magnificent view of the Ganges, greeting you with the cool breeze from the river. You can also feed the fish in the river below from the bridge itself, the fish gather at the place where people drop food for them. Similarly you can feed gram (chana) or peanuts to the friendly monkey nearby.

Two temple at one end of the bridge, adds beauty to it surrounded by green mountains. One of them is famous Tryambakeshar Mahadev Temple (13 Floors). One can reach "Neelkanth Mahadev Temple" from here through trek or through zeep, situated 12 KM away. It is a popular place for rafting for different levels. It is also a center for hiking and backpacking.

There are many holy societies, Ashram and ghats exist and developing. You can directly get auto from Lakshman Jhula or Triveni Ghat to Haridwar. You can also visit the Panch Tirth within Haridwar.
At this closing note, Har Har Gange!

May 1, 2010

Quote of the Post: "The more you dip in the Holy Ganga river, the more you will desire to dip." - Quote about Ganga and Har-Ki-Paudi - Sachin Kumar Gupta

Goddess Ganga invited us to Haridwar. I am not a preacher, but according to Hindu religion, It is said that whenever you go to any holy place with open heart, that is direct call from the almighty God. :) Haridwar itself stands for Dwara of Hari (Gateway to God).
The Panch Tirth (Five Pilgrimages) within Haridwar are, Gangadwar (Har-Ki-Pauri), Kushwart ghat, Kankhal, Bilwa Parvat (Mansa Devi) and Neel Parvat (Chandi Devi). Lords arrived here in different avatar(forms) and converted Haridwar as celestial and immortal land.

We have visited the place when Maha Kumbha Mela (celebrated every 12th year) was at its eleventh hour. Millions of pilgrims and devotees congregate here from all over the world to celebrate the holy event.
Har-Ki-Pauri (Footsteps of the Lord):
As per Hindu scriptures, Few drops of nector (Amrit) fell over this ghat(bank) when the nector jug was carried by Gods after Samudra manthan. Other holy places are Ujjain, Nasik, Allahabad where drops of immortality spilled over from the pitcher, where the Kumbha Mela is celebrated once every 3 years in any of these 4 places and after a period of 12 years. The most sacred spot where the nector fell is considered to be the Brahma Kund at Har-Ki-Pauri. It is said that ritualistic bathing on the banks of the river Ganga, is equivalent of washing away one's sins and wrong-doings to attain Moksha and heaven. People used to take round of the temple during bathe. The holy water of this sacred place is carried by pilgrims for solemn occasions.

The evening "Aarti of Ganga" is the most awaited event at this place. The whole atmosphere during that time becomes the centre of attraction as well as admiration. People chanting mantras, ear-loving sound, floating fire-lamps, flowers with different colours, all hands in air, and above all its reflection in the holy water makes it eye-catching. The other nearby places are the Temple of Ganga, Asthi Visarjan Ghat, Haricharan Temple, Brahma kund, Birla Tower.

The place is most known for Daksheswara Mahadev temple. The mythological story about this place is that Daksha Prajapati, son of Lord Brahma performed a yagya and deliberately didn't invite Lord Shiva. Seeing this Sati (Lord Shiva's first wife), daughter of Daksha felt embarrassed and burnt herself in the fire of the yagna kund.

King Daksha was then killed by the demon Virabhadra, who was born out of Lord Shiva's anger. Later the king was brought to life with goat's head by Shiva. You can directly get auto (transport) from Har-Ki-Pauri, Haridwar to this place.
Chandi Devi Temple (Neel Parvat):
On the eastern bank of River Ganga, On the top of Neel Parvat is the temple of Goddess Chandi, 4 KM away from Har-Ki-Pauri. It is said that two local demons Shumbh-Nishumbh (who captured the kingdom of heaven) were beheaded by Goddess Chandi, after which this place known as Chandi Devi.

It can be reached by following the trekking route or recently introduced rope-way cable car (Udan-Khatola) service. We taken the ropeways to the God (Udankhatola) service and enjoy the scenic views of Ganga river and Haridwar. The point where ropeways service exit, has two ways, one to Chandi Devi and the other to Anjana Devi temple. (Mother of the monkey-god Hanuman) The temple is open between 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Mansa Devi Temple (Bilwa Parvat):
The temple of Mansa Devi is exactly opposite on the bank of River Ganga, on the Bilwa Parvat. It is said that Mansa and Chandi Devi, the two forms of goddess Parvati always reside close to each other. Mansa Devi literally means the Goddess who fulfills desires (wishes). Same as chandi Devi, this place can also be reached by rope-way as well as trekking route using stairs. This time we proceeded with the trek and enjoyed the pictsquare view of Har-Ki-Paudi alongwith the Ganga and Haridwar at various stops. It is one of the three such Siddh Peethas (where desires get fulfilled) located in Haridwar, the other two being Chandi Devi Temple and Maya Devi Temple.

Other Places and Temples in Haridwar:
ShantiKunj Haridwar, a serene and tranquil place, is a world in itself. BharatMata Temple, Mata Lal Devi Ji Temple, Sri Ram Temple, Shivanand Dham, Paavan Dhaam (The temple of Glass) are the temples worth to watch from ShantiKunj to Har-Ki-Paudi way. Many consciousness camp, holy preaching, spiritual campaigns, celebrations and festival like events happen throghout the year at this place.

Get, Set and Go to the Gateway to the God (Haridwar).
- Jai Gange!!!

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