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Name: Haridwar

Haridwar, 214 km northeast of Delhi, is at the base of the Shivalik hills, where the Ganga, coming down from the mighty Himalayas, meets the plains. Amongst the many pilgrimage spots that are situated along the length of the holy Ganga, Haridwar, perhaps, is the holiest in the land.

It is here that the Kumbh Mela is held every 12th year and Ardh Kumbh after every six years. Literally translated, Haridwar means the 'Gateway to the abode of Gods'. Its long history, which goes back to pre-historic times, has lent it many names. In Hindu mythology, it is known as Kapilsthan. Legend has it, that the Suryavanshi Prince Bhagirnath, performed penance here, to salvage the souls of his ancestors, who had perished, due to the curse of the sage Kapila.

The penance was answered, and the river Ganga trickled forth from Lord Shiva's locks, and its bountiful waters revived the sixty thousand sons of King Sagara. Amongst its other names, are Gangadwar and Tapovan. Known also as 'Mayapuri' in the Puranas, it is mentioned in the memoirs of the celebrated Chinese traveller, Hieun Tsang.

According to the myth attached to Haridwar, drops of nectar churned out from the primordial ocean, fell at the four sites of the Kumbh fair, which included Haridwar. The Kumbh, and the Ardh Kumbh fairs are grand events, when millions of devoted Hindus take a holy dip in the Ganga.

Haridwar is situated on the right bank of the holy Ganga, and is the point where the river spreads over the northern plain. Associated with both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, Haridwar is among the seven sacred cities of India. It is also one of the four venues for the Kumbh Mela, held in its magnitude every twelve years. Essentially a religious centre which holds promise of salvation for devotees, Haridwar is also a centre of herbal medicine, and traditional studies at Gurukul Kangri. There are many places of scenic beauty on the outskirts of the town.