Haridwar

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View of Evening prayers at Har-ki-pairi in Haridwar
Holy Bath at Har-ki-Pauddi
Hardwar – An Aerial View

Haridwar (also spelled Hardwar, Hindi: हरिद्वार) is a holy city and municipal board in the Haridwar District of Uttarakhand, India. In Hindi, Haridwar stands for Gateway to God, with 'Hari' meaning god and 'dwar' meaning gate. Haridwar is regarded as one of the seven holiest places to Hindus. Though officially it is written as 'Haridwar', the actually ancient name is 'Hardwar' (हरद्वार) i.e. "The gateway to hills of Lord Shiva".

Contents

In Hindu Mythology

According to Hindu mythology, Haridwar is one among the four sites where drops of the elixir of immortality, Amrita, accidentally spilled over from Kumbha, in which it was being carried away by the celestial bird Garuda. These four spots -- Ujjain, Haridwar, Nasik, and Allahabad -- have today become places, where the Kumbha Mela is celebrated once every 3 years in any of these 4 places and after a period of 12 years, the Maha Kumbha Mela is celebrated on the 12th year at Prayag in Allahabad. Millions of pilgrims, devotees, and tourists congregate here from all over the world to celebrate the event. They perform ritualistic bathing on the banks of the river Ganga.

The spot where the Amrita (nectar) fell is considered to be the Brahma Kund at Har-ki-Pauri (literally, "footsteps of the Lord," and symbolically the footprints of the Amrita), the most sacred ghat of Haridwar; thousands of devotees and pilgrims flock here during festivals or snan from all over India to take a holy dip. This act is considered to be the equivalent of washing away one's sins to attain Moksha.

Jat Dharamshala Hardwar

The Haridwar district came into existence on 28 December 1988, with the creation of new state of Uttarakhand, and is developing beyond its religious importance, as a major industrial destination of state, with development works of SIDCUL. This city is also well known for many other attractions apart from the holy river Ganges, such as the township of BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals India Ltd.) and fast developing Industrial Estate developed by SIDCUL. Haridwar is adjacent to the neighbour district Roorkee known for educational institution IIT Roorkee.

Haridwar in scriptures

Prince Bhagiratha in penenance for the salvation of 60,000 of his ancestors.

A paradise for nature lovers, Haridwar presents a kaleidoscope of Indian culture and civilisation. In mythology it has been variously mentioned as Kapilsthan, Gangadwar [1] and Mayapuri [2]. It is also a entry point to the Char Dham (the four main centers of pilgrimage in Uttarakhand viz, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri), hence, Shaivism (followers of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavism (followers of Lord Vishnu) call this place Hardwar and Haridwar respectively, corresponding to Har being Shiv and Hari being Vishnu [1][3].

Archaeological findings have proved that terra cotta culture dating between 1700 BCE and 1200 BCE existed in this region [3]. Though first written evidence of Haridwar is found in the accounts of a Chinese traveller, Huan Tsang, who visited India in 629 AD. [4]

The legendary King, Bhagiratha, the great-grandson of the Suryavanshi King Sagara, is said to have brought the river Ganga down from heaven, through years of penance in Satya Yuga, for the salvation of 60,000 of his ancestors from the curse of the saint Kapila [5][6], a tradition continued by thousands of devout Hindus, who brings the ashes of their departed family members, in hope of their salvation [7]. Lord Vishnu is said to have left his footprint on the stone that is set in the upper wall of Har-Ki-Pauri, where the Holy Ganga touches it at all times.

During his visit to Haridwar, Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak (1469-1539) bathed at 'Kushwan Ghat', wherein the famous, 'watering the crops' episode took place [8], his visit is today commemorated by a Gurudwara, besides this third Guru, Sri Amar Das also visited Hardwar twenty two times during his life time [9]. Being one of the oldest living cities, Haridwar finds its mention in the ancient Hindu scriptures as it weaves through the life and time stretching from the period of the Buddha, to the more recent British advent. Haridwar has a rich and ancient religious and cultural heritage. It still has many old havelis and mansions bearing exquisite murals and intricate stonework.

Present Haridwar

The headworks of the Ganga Canal system are located in Haridwar. The Upper Ganga Canal was opened in 1854 after the work began in 1840, prompted by the famine of 1837-38. The unique feature of the canal is the half-kilometre-long aqueduct over another river at Roorkee, which raises the canal 25 metres above the original river.

Haridwar has been an abode of the weary in body, mind and spirit. It has also been a centre of attraction for learning various arts, science, and culture. The city has a long-standing position as a great source of Ayurvedic medicines and herbal remedies and is home to the unique Gurukul school of traditional education.

Haridwar already has a temple of modern civilization, BHEL, a 'Navratna PSU' to its credit. The Roorkee University at Roorkee, now IIT Roorkee, is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutes of learning in the fields of science and engineering. Another university of the district, Gurukul Kangri, which has a vast campus, gives traditional education of its own kind.

Many Government administration offices like Lok Sewa Ayog and Sanskrit Academy are established here. Prior to its inclusion in the newly created state of Uttarakhand, this district was a part of Saharanpur Divisional Commissionary.

Haridwar and Jat history

Haridwar was one of the most ancient Jat republics under the rule of Virabhadra with capital at Haridwar. The state of Haryana gets its name from Shiva (Hara). The name of Haryana means 'Hari ka Desh' or the land of Lord Shiva. There is mention of ganas is in the form of attendants of Shiva in the story of creation of Virabhadra and destruction of Daksha in Hindu mythology. The story goes: One day Daksha made arrangements for a great horse sacrifice, and invited all the gods omitting only Shiva. Shiva's first wife was Sati and daughter of Daksha Prajapati. Sati, being greatly humiliated, went to the banquet and Sati released the inward consuming fire and fell dead at Daksha's feet. Narada bore this news to Shiva. Shiva burned with anger, created Vīrabhadra who bowed at Shiva's feet and asked his will. [10]

Shiva directed Virabhadra: "Lead my army against Daksha and destroy his sacrifice; fear not the Brahmanas, for thou art a portion of my very self". On this direction of Shiva, Virabhadra appeared with Shiva's ganas in the midst of Daksha's assembly like a storm wind and broke the sacrificial vessels, polluted the offerings, insulted the priests and finally cut off Daksha's head, trampled on Indra, broke the staff of Yama, scattered the gods on every side; the he returned to Kailash. [11]

Deva Samhita mentions that after the destruction of Daksha's sacrifice by Virabhadra and his ganas, the followers of Shiva, the defeated gods sought Brahma and asked his counsel. Brahma advised the gods to make their peace with Shiva. Shiva accepted his advice and restored the burnt head of Daksha and the broken limbs were made whole. Then the devas thanked Shiva for his gentleness, and invited him to sacrifice. There Daksha looked on him with reverence, the rite was duly performed, and there also Vishnu appeared. A compromise was achieved between Vaishnavas and followers of Shiva.

The above story of creation of Virabhadra from the Shiva’s lock and destruction of Daksha by Virabhadra and his ganas is mythical and not scientifically possible but has some historical facts in it. Thakur Deshraj has explained that there was a clan of Jats named Shivi who had a republic ruled by democratic system of administration known as ganatantra. Kshudrakas had formed a sangha with Malavas. Shivis formed a sangha with a big federation or sangha known as Jat, which is clear from Paninis shloka in grammar of Aṣṭādhyāyī given below. [12]

The historian Ram Swaroop Joon explains that Shiva lived in Gangotri Hills which, due to Shiva's popularity, came to be known as Shiva's Jata. The mountain ranges in that area is now known as Shivaliks. Raja Virabhadra of the Puru dynasty was the ruler of 'Talkhapur' near Haridwar, which also formed part of the area known as 'Shiv ki Jata'. [13]

This is the area around Haridwar. King Bhagiratha brought the Ganga to the plains in this region. According to legend the Ganga flows out from Shiva's Jata. Actually this also means that the Ganga flows out from the area known as 'Shiv ki Jata', the birthplace of the Jat Raja Virabhadra who was a follower and admirer of Shiva. On hearing of Sati's tragedy, Shiva went to the durbar of Virabhadra and pulled at his hair in fury while narrating the story. This infuriated Virabhadra and with his army, are invaded Kankhal and killed Daksha. [14]

Kankhal, ancient town near Haridwar, was the summer capital and Thanesar (Kurukshetra) the winter capital of Shiva. [15]Shiva after ascending to the throne visited plain areas, the present Haridwar. To give a warm welcome to Shiva the site of Haridwar was made a welcome-gate hence called Haridwar (हरिद्वार) . The country below it was known as Haryana in the memory of Shiva coming to this region. In sanskrit language applying the yaṇa sandhi rules we find that Hari + Ānā = Haryānā. Examples of yaṇa sandhi are:

इति+आदि = इत्यादि

हरि+ आणा = हरयाणा

The region of Haryana in those days covered the areas of 30 districts of Uttar Pradesh, Brajmandal, present Haryana, part east of River Sutlej and Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Nagaur, Bikaner, Churu and Jhunjhunu districts in Rajasthan. [16]

Tehsils

The district is administratively subdivided into three tehsils-

and six development blocks-

Jat Gotras in Haridwar district

Bargoti, Beniwal, Dhama, Jatrana, Jatri, Kharb,

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Places of peace and power sacred sites.
  2. Hardwar sanatansociety.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hariwar History haridwar.nic.in.
  4. Kumbh Mela
  5. "Uttarakhand Information Centre - Gangotri Information" The Complete Uttarakhand Travel Guide
  6. Mankodi, Kirit (1973) "Gaṅgā Tripathagā" Artibus Asiae 35(1/2): pp. 139-144, p. 140
  7. Hardwar, About City
  8. Watering the Crops Guru Nanak Sakhis at sikhiwiki.
  9. Gurudwara NanakpuraGurudwaras in Uttarakhand at sikhiwiki.
  10. Sister Nivedita & Ananda K.Coomaraswamy: Myths and Legends of the Hindus and Bhuddhists, Kolkata, 2001 ISBN 81-7505-197-3
  11. Sister Nivedita & Ananda K.Coomaraswamy: Myths and Legends of the Hindus and Bhuddhists, Kolkata, 2001 ISBN 81-7505-197-3
  12. Thakur Deshraj: Jat Itihas (Hindi), Maharaja Suraj Mal Smarak Shiksha Sansthan, Delhi, 1934, 2nd edition 1992 page 87-88.
  13. Ram Swarup Joon: History of the Jats (1938, 1967)
  14. Ram Swarup Joon: History of the Jats (1938, 1967)
  15. Bhaleram Beniwal, Jāton kā Ādikālīn Itihāsa, 2005, Publisher - Jaypal Agencies, Agra, p. 39
  16. Bhaleram Beniwal, Jāton kā Ādikālīn Itihāsa, 2005, Publisher - Jaypal Agencies, Agra, p. 39

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