The town of Haridwar is located in the foothills of the Himalayas in the north Indian state of Uttaranchal. Haridwar represents the point where the Ganga reaches the plains. Haridwar is an ageless attraction as the perfect pilgrimage destination, which has been held in reverence for centuries. The town of Haridwar is crowded with several temples and ashrams. A visit to Haridwar is really like stepping into a completely different world.
The town of Haridwar is also famous for many other things apart from the holy River Ganges. Apart from this the extremely popular Kumbh Fair is organized at the interval of every 12 years. In the Kumbh Fair, nearly 1 crore pilgrims participate from all over the world.
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Badrinath temple (Hindi/Garhwali: बद्रीनाथ मंदिर, Tamil:பத்ரிநாத்), sometimes called Badrinarayan temple, is situated along the Alaknanda river, in the hill town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand state in India. It is widely considered to be one of the holiest Hindu temples, and is dedicated to god Vishnu. The temple and town are one of the four Char Dham and Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites. It is also one of the 108 Divya Desams, holy shrines for Vaishnavites. The temple is open only six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), due to extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region.
Several murtis are worshipped in the temple. The most important is a one meter tall statue of Vishnu as Lord Badrinarayan, made of black Saligram stone. The statue is considered by many Hindus to be one of eight swayam vyakta kshetras, or self-manifested statues of Vishnu. The murti depicts Vishnu sitting in meditative posture, rather than His far more typical reclining pose. In November each year, when the town of Badrinath is closed, the image is moved to nearby Jyotirmath.
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Kedarnath Mandir (Tamil: திருக்கேதாரம், Thiruk Kedaram,Hindi: केदारनाथ मंदिर, Kēdārnāth Maṃdir ) is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located atop the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand in India. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon). During the winters, the murtis (idols) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months. In this region Lord Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath, the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region. This temple is a Paadal Petra Sthalam (the 275 Holy Abodes of Shiva on the continent), praised by the Tamil Nayanars saints in the 6th-9th century CE.
The temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 14 km uphill trek from Gaurikund . The temple is believed to have been built by Adi Sankaracharya and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva. The older temple existed from the times of Mahabharata, when the Pandavas are supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance in Kedarnath. The temple is also one of the four major sites in India’s Chota Char Dham pilgrimage of Northern Himalayas.
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Yamunotri (Hindi: यमुनोत्री) is the source of the Yamuna River and the seat of the Goddess Yamuna in Hinduism. It is situated at an altitude of 3,293 metres (10,804 ft) in the Garhwal Himalayas and located approximately 30 kilometers (19 mi) North of Uttarkashi, the headquarters of the Uttarkashi district in the Garhwal Division of Uttarakhand, India. It is one of the four sites in India’s Chhota Char Dham pilgrimage. The sacred shrine of Yamunotri, source of the river Yamuna, is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas, perched atop a flank of Bandar Poonch Parvat. The chief attraction at Yamunotri is the temple devoted to the Goddess Yamuna and the holy thermal springs at Janki Chatti (7 km. Away).
The actual source, a frozen lake of ice and glacier (Champasar Glacier) located on the Kalind Mountain at a height of 4,421 m above sea level, about 1 km further up, is not frequented generally as it is not accessible; hence the shrine has been located on the foot of the hill. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer puja at the temple itself.
The temple of Yamuna, on the left bank of the Yamuna, was constructed by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. The deity is made of black marble. The Yamuna, like the Ganges, has been elavated to the status of a divine mother for the Hindus and has been held responsible for nurturing and developing the Indian civilization.
Close to the temple are hot water springs gushing out from the mountain cavities. Surya Kund is the most important kund. Near the Surya Kund there is a shila called Divya Shila, which is worshipped before puja is offered to the deity. Devotees prepare rice and potatoes, tied in muslin cloth, to offer at the shrine by dipping them in these hot water springs. Rice so cooked is taken back home as prasadam. The pujaris of Yamunotri come from the village of Kharsali near Janki Chatti. They are the administrators of the sacred place and perform religious rites. They are well-versed in the Shastras.
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Gangotri (Hindi: गंगोत्री) is a town and a Nagar Panchayat (municipality) in Uttarkashi district in the state of Uttarakhand, India. It is a Hindu pilgrim town on the banks of the river Bhagirathi. It is on the Greater Himalayan Range, at a height of 3,100m.
Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri.
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Other Temples Of Uttaranchal
Naina Devi Temple
The temple is situated above the Naina peak at a height of 2611 metres. A famous Indian legend is that after Sati had burned herself alive, Lord Shiva, her husband, carrying her corpse with anger, started his tandava (dance of death) bringing destruction on earth. Hence lord Vishnu, to cease him, unleashed his chakra and this cut the body of Sati in 51 pieces. Wherever her body parts fell, today those places are worshipped and are called Shakti Peeths. Her eyes fell here and hence Naina Devi temple came up here. The word naina is synonymous with eyes in Hindi. A fair held here in honour of Nanda devi, the patron goddess of Kumaon is famous and attracts several people every year, it is an important event in the cultural and religious activity chart of Uttaranchal.
Har Ki Pauri
This is the most famous ghat where people come to take a dip in the holy Ganga. This is thought about to be the most auspicious place and lakhs and lakhs of people throng this place in the work of the Kumbha and Ardhkumbha here. can see the varied colours of hiliness here, the flea shops, the sadhus with long hairs and bodies smeared with ashes. This age elderly ghat was built by King Vikramaditya in the memory of his sister Bhatrihari. The best time to visit Har Ki pauri is at the time of evening aarti, when the waters shimmer with the 4h golden reflection of burning lamps floated in water by pilgrims.
This temple is situated at Rudraprayag, the confluence of rivers Mandakini and Alaknanda. Lord Shiva is worshipped here in Rudraprayag, the third of Kedars. The face of lord Shiva is worshipped here. This temple is 2286 metres above the sea level and requires an 18 kilometre, a not so simple, trek. The temple is surrounded by lots of holy ponds and kunds – Suryakund, Chandrakund, Tarakund. Closeby to the temple is the place where Narad, a sage from heavens meditated. The place around the temple is enchanting presenting some great views of Hathi parvat, Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti. There is another temple of Anusuya Devi closeby, kilometres ahead. Devotees throng Rudranath to offer homage to the dead since it is believed that the soul of the dead passes from Rudraprayag here at Vaitarani river (the water of salvation) while changing world.
Mansa Devi Temple
This is the most famous & most visited temple of Haridwar. The temple of Mansa Devi is perched on a hilltop, the hill is named the Bilwa hill. An ancient temple, it is of the Siddhpeeths in Himalayas. It is said that the naval & heart of Sati fell here. To reach the temple, can either go by ropeway or take a trek upto the shrine. Either way, it is an enjoyable journey.
Chandi Devi Temple
Chandi Devi Temple is of the most popular shaktipeeth of Haridwar. The temple is situated on Neel Parvat on the opposite bank of main Haridwar. It was built here in 1929 AD by king of Kashmir, Suchat Singh. According to the legend, the army chiefs Chanda and Munda of the king of demons Shambhu and Nishambhu were killed here. The place was then called Chandi Devi temple. The main picture here in this temple was established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century A.D. can visit the temple either by trekking or taking a ropeway.