Haridwar


This is a sacred city on the river Ganga north of Delhi and south of Rishikesh. Har means God, dwar means gate. Vaishnaws call it Hari-dwar, Hari being Vishnu. It is also known as Gangadwar, since the river Ganga fans out here after leaving the narrow gorges of the Himalayas further up. In the Purans it was known as Mayapur. Brahma held a large-scale yagna here in ancient times. Five ancient tirths are also found here: Gangadwar, Kushaavart, Bilkeshwar, Neel Parvat and Kankhal. Brahma has granted a boon that by bathing in Brahmakund in Gangadwar, one will attain moksha. This spot is more popularly known as Harki Paidhi. King Bhartruhari performed austerities here. His brother, Vikramaditya, built stone steps (paidhi) in Harki Paidhi for pilgrims to bathe. Since Ganga flows over Neel Parvat, it is also known as Neeldhara and Saptadhara. Dhara means stream; Sapta means seven. An interesting story is connected with Saptadhara. When little Dhruv performed austerities here, the turbulent flow and roar of the Ganga disturbed him. As he prepared to leave this place. Gangaji appeared. She requested him to stay and continue austerities here. She then spread her flow into seven channels to calm the roar. Dakshprajapati’s palace and Satikund are also located in Kankhal. Satikund is the place of the yagna kund into which Sati, Shivji’s consort, jumped after being insulted by Daksh.

Nilkanth Varni first arrived here from Ayodhya on 29 July 1792 and then on His return from Badrinath. He bathed in the Ganga at Harki Paidhi. The area was overflowing with pilgrims due to the Kumbh Mela festival. Being a Brahmachari Nilkanth Varni felt uncomfortable in this crowd and was wondering where to go when a man led him to a secluded spot. There he and his wife devotionally served food to Nilkanth. When He inquired who they were, they replied, “Shiv and Parvati!”

Pramukh Swami Maharaj bathed in Harki Paidhi with sadhus and devotees in 1987.

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