Haridwar

Understand

Haridwar, literally Gateway to God, is one of the Hindu holy places in India and a center of Hindu religion and mysticism for centuries. Located on the banks of River Ganges Ganga, at the point where the Ganges descends from the hills to the North Indian plains, Haridwar attracts a large number of Hindu pilgrims from all over the world.

Festivals

Haridwar is the site of many religious festivals. Most notably, once every twelve years it is the venue for the Purna Kumbh Mela, humanity's largest festival, which drew a record 70 million in 2003. The festival rotates between Haridwar and Allahabad, Ujjain and Nashik. The Ardh Kumbha Mela, or "half mela", is held every six years. The last Purn Kumbh Mela was in Haridwar was in 2013. Ardh Kumbh will occur in 2016 and next Pun Kumbh in 2022.

Other yearly festivals include:

Baisakhi
April.
Kanwar Mela
July. The largest yearly festival, drawing up to 300,000 visitors.
Somwati Amavasya
July. Almost as large as the Kanwar Mela.
Kartik Purnima
held 15 days after Diwali on the first night of the full moon in November.

While the festivals are colorful and fascinating, they also strain the town's limited infrastructure to the breaking point and sometimes beyond. Book rooms and tickets well in advance, and avoid travel by road as the traffic jams can be horrendous.