There’s a sluice gate across the Ganga about a kilometer upstream from Har ki Pauri. The waters are diverted through a channel for a kilometre towards south before the channel merges back into the Ganga. The paved shores of the channel along with a paved over island is what makes up Har ki Pauri and that’s where all the action is. At Haridwar most religious activities are centered around this kilometer long strip of paved river shore. Seems like this place never goes to sleep. Day starts with the morning Ganga Aarti at the crack of dawn and even late at night devotees are offering prayers to Mother Ganga or performing last rites of departed family. The food vendors stay open almost round the clock.
Haridwar is a year round destination but avoid the fortnight following Deepabali (Diwali) because Avoid
Bang next to Har ki Pauri is Moti Market. Serpentine lanes choc-a-bloc with shops on either side, weave away from Har ki Pauri towards the high street which runs by the rail station. Shop around for handicrafts, wood work, brass and copper implements for performing puja, conch shells, woolens and pickles. Then there are dozens of small restaurants and stalls offering a variety of typical local fare. Fascinating place.
Distances and Transport:
A fast Shatabdi Express leaves New Delhi at 6.45 am and reaches Haridwar at 11.25 am on its way to Dehradun. There are other express trains as well between Delhi and Haridwar, including night trains. The Shatabdi returns at 5 pm from Haridwar. Kathgodam. Train time tables are available here.
By road, Delhi to Haridwar is about 250 km along NH 34. Good four lane highway for most of the way but the journey can take anywhere between 5 hrs and 8 hrs depending on traffic.
Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India,
15-16 November 2014.
Google Map satellite view of Har ki Pauri area. You can see the dam and sluice gates diverting water past the ghats.
On occasions traffic could be quite bad. Travel within Haridwar is by Rickshaw. There’s a cable car from high street to the Manasa Devi Temple at the top of a hill. Very nice view of Ganga and the surrounding areas from top. Go early to avoid the long que to board the cable car.
There are plenty of accommodation all over Haridwar but my preference is to stay at Har ki Pauri because that’s where all the action is. We stayed at Hotel Ganga Lahari at Gau Ghat at the southern end of Har ki Pauri. You can find my review of the hotel here. This is one of the best accommodation at Haridwar. The bathing ghats are right opposite the entrance of the hotel. The hotel lends you towels and help you find an empty spot for the holy dip. Brahma Kundu where the Ganga Aarti is held is a 5 min walk towards north along the banks of the river. One other good hotel is The Haveli Hari Ganga at Ram Ghat, about 200 mts south of Ganga Lahari. Many other hotels and Dharmshalas offering varying degrees of comfort at a variety of price points. Finding a good accommodation at Haridwar is never a problem except during school holidays and Hindu religious festivals.
We paid ₹ 7,500 ($ 150) per day for the three of us for a double bedded room with an extra rollaway cot, breakfast and dinner. Train fare from Delhi to Haridwar by Executive Class was ₹ 1,150 ($ 23) per head. Rickshaw from Har ki Pauri to anywhere on high street was ₹ 30 ($ 0.6) per ride. Lunch at Hoshiyarpur Dhaba for the three of us was ₹ 600 ($ 12). During Ganga Aaarti they expect donations. Pay what you like and no questions asked. We paid ₹ 100 ($2) to Ganga Sabha who are the organisers and ₹ 300 ($ 6) for seating for the three of us during the aarti. Its free if you opt to stand. Taxi for 4 hours to visit Rajaji National Park was ₹ 1,000 ($ 20).