In Dev Bhoomi from Dev Prayag to Haridwar and Har ki Pauri.
In the land of God, from the divine confluent and the birth of Ganga to the gate towards the
Lord and the steps of the Divinity.
Birth of Ganga from the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi rivers meeting in Dev Prayag. The
Bhagirathi with muddy waters and the Alaknanda with light emerald green water, there Ganga is
taking its birth with light green waters...
Haridwar as old as time, is a fascinating place at the foothills of the
Shivalik mountains in the Himalayas range with the river Ganga flowing
through the city. It is the gateway to Lord Vishnu, Haridwar city of
Vishnu -Hari -but also of Shiva -Har Har Mahadev- offers to free you
from the eternal cycle of life and death and also if you bathe in Ganga's
waters, to wash away your sins.
Indians taking a bath in the Ganges to wash their sins.
It is the place where people come to immerse the ashes of their close
ones who passed away, and it is also here that the ceremonies of Shraad,
those yearly two weeks of rituals in memory of the departed souls are
Religious and historical, Haridwar is dear to the hearts of Hindus since.
The Ganges flows through the city and the Ghats are both sides. Pilgrims leaving the office of
an astrologer near Ganga river.
Here a shop where one finds everything a pilgrim needs.
Streets of the old Haridwar with its fast food restaurants and pilgrims.
As per the Hindu mythology, "Haridwar dates back to the time when
Brahma was creating the world". But it is because the gods and demons
churned the ocean to get the lost nectar of immortality that the city
became one of few most holiest cities of India-Bharat. When Garuda
carried the pot of Amrit, he dropped a bit of the nectar at this particular
spot, making it a place for eternal salvation. Since that episode, Haridwar
is one of the seven sacred places of pilgrimage and one of the four places
chosen for the Kumbh Mela.
The Kumbh Mela in Haridwar. Here Sadhus
on the ghats. It is the
biggest show of the world with all its exuberance and utterly incredible Sadhus'
The Kumbh Mela
is a sea of pilgrims who come to take a dip into Ganga Mà. It is a convergence of
energies, untamable masses of people who come in groups to wash their sins and get
liberation from the infernal cycle of life and death.
Kanwar Yatra every year by the month of Shravan. A more and more popular
pilgrimage to get Ganga Jaal to pour on the idol in the Shiva temple of their locality
and keep some for great rituals. Haridwar is no doubt the place choking with the
number of kanwarias. Unfortunately, nowadays, violence and turmoil have started for
It is also said that Lord Vishnu - Hari- left his foot print in Haridwar,
one more reason to make the place holiest among holy.
The city was prosperous around 1200 to 1700 BC as we can see with the
terracotta pieces found at this place and now in museum. It is in the
Mahabharata that we find the most ancient mention of the city as well as
the names of the sage Dhaumya, Yudhisthira of the five Pandavas as well
as Sage Kapila and Agastya Muni had their ashram here.
Then came the Mauryans who ruled here from 322 to 185 BC, followed
by the Kushans from the 1st and 2nd AD. Some other famous kings in
the Indian history like Harshvardhan 590 to 647 AD did rule the place
Then some more violent character like Timur Lang overran the city from
Central Asia. Guru Nanak, the peaceful and first Sikh Guru came over
and bathed at the Kushwan Ghat before leaving for his pilgrimage.
Some great personalities of Rajasthan like Maharaja Man Singh of Amber
restored the Ghats and the famous Har ki Pauri.
Aarti at Har ki Pauri.
When Haridwar came under Mughal rule, its name was then Mayapur
and the Emperor Akbar is said to have been fond of drinking the water
of Ganga. He is also credited with establishing a copper coin mint in this
The British arrived in the 1800s and built the Bhimgoda Dam by 1840
AD and the Municipality of Haridwar was officially created around 1868
which was more or less the time a railway line was also laid.
After independence, the growth of pilgrims to the Char dham in
Uttarakhand, Haridwar gained in importance as the entry point to these
pilgrimage sites, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, Badrinath.
If the city is of great importance to devotees of Vishnu and Shiva, it is
also equally important for the worship of Shakti since it is the site
where the navel of Goddess Sati fell while Shiva was transporting her
body into the cosmos. That place is now symbolized by the Maya Devi
Temple, possibly dated to the 11th century or may have be even earlier.
Besides that dense historical and religious past, one should not forget
that Bhagirath, thanks to his penance, brought down the Ganges from
Heavens to the Earth and people can cleanse their sins here in Har Ki
Pauri, freeing themselves from the cycle of life and death to attain
Moksha, the ultimate goal.
Haridwar is also remarkable for the priests-genealogists, called Pandas
Panda writing the latest addition to the chronology of a family.
They are specialized by communities and regions of India.
They can be met on the ghats, near Hari ki Pauri and also in the old
market where they have some quarters there to dispense their
Here in the old market, the Pandas are sitting and handle some post cremation ceremony
There are also several religious towns where we can find the same
professionals like Allahabad, Kurukshetra, Peohwa, Jawalamukhi,
Chintpurni, Varanasi, Trimbakeshwar, Tarakeshwar. These genealogists
are of good help if one wants to trace the past of the family which can be
traced up to more than seven generations. In the past anybody coming
to Haridwar for a post cremation ceremony or Shraad was updating the
information to the family Pandit of the place he was from.
Man with the ashes of a parent in the red bag.
They officiate near Har Ki Pauri just under the bridge up to the time of
Aarti which is the last moment of the day, dispelling all kinds of darkness
with the light offered to the Divine. All those datas are still hand written
on huge books -Bahis or Vahis- They are the memory and History of the
Vahis kept on the table the whole day, according to the need of the Panda.
Room where all the Vahis are kept by
the end of the day.
Panda writing the latest information delivered by a customer on this huge book
On the ghats, some Pandits are offering the purification with the burning flame
against a minor contribution.
Haridwar is also very famous for its Ashrams. The basic meaning is a
traditional place where one learns Hindu philosophy and the disciplines
related to it. But with the western influence and its celebrities some
Ashrams elsewhere are more towards a teaching designed for foreign life
and that fashion of living. Haridwar is more Hindu oriented and
provides more traditional kind of places made for the help of the Indian
laymen. They teach different disciplines but also have health care at
minimal prices, are away from all sophistication of all kinds and do not
play on big renown names. It is all very simple. The people are either
living in the Ashram or in town and have their daily duty in the
organization or are just visiting when they want.
Sadhus coming to get food offered by an Ashram.
Ashram students have to serve food
twice a day to the Sadhus and Sadhvis. Sadhvi also taken care
by the charitable organizations.
Sadhus leaving the Ashram after meals.
Sadhus and Sadhvi are served by young students of the Ashram Gurukul.
Charity is a base of the Hindu way of life and some Ashrams are
organizing daily food distribution for the people who renounced the
material world like Sadhus. The food products are usually offered by big
organizations and other donators, cooked in the Ashram kitchen and
served by the students of the Gurukul of the Ashram. The notion of
"service" has a different and humble connotation here! To curb one's
ego is important...
A passerby has offered food to this man.This altruism is strong in Hinduism.
If you come to Haridwar to see beautiful works of Art, then you are not
in the right place, but if you come to Haridwar to witness the beauty of
what Hinduism can be, then you are at the right place.
A Propos de Michèle Béguin
CNIL:1050096 2004 © Michèle Béguin