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Haridwar - History of Haridwar

Haridwar Hotels, Hotels in HaridwarHaridwar A paradise for nature lovers, Haridwar presents a kaleidoscope of Indian culture and civilization. In the scriptures it has been variously mentioned as Kapilsthan, Gangadwar and Mayapuri. It is also an entry point to the Char Dham (the four main centers of pilgrimage in Uttarakhand viz, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri), hence, Shaivaites (followers of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavites (followers of Lord Vishnu) call this place Hardwar and Haridwar respectively, corresponding to Har being Shiv and Hari being Vishnu.

Head of Ganges Canal, Haridwar, 1894-1898

The legendary King, Bhagirath, the great-grandson of the Suryavanshi King Sagar (an ancestor of Rama), is said to have brought the river Ganges 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, a tradition continued by thousands of devout Hindus, who brings the ashes of their departed family members, in hope of their salvation. 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 Ganges touches it at all times.

Haridwar came under the rule of the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE), and later under the Kushan Empire (c. 1st–3rd centuries). Archaeological findings have proved that terra cotta culture dating between 1700 BCE and 1200 BCE existed in this region. First modern era written evidence of Haridwar is found in the accounts of a Chinese traveller, Huan Tsang, who visited India in 629 AD. during the reign of King Harshavardhan (590–647) records Haridwar as 'Mo-yu-lo', the remains of which still exist at Mayapur, a little to the south of the modern town. Among the ruins are a fort and three temples, decorated with broken stone sculptures, he also mentions the presence of a temple, north of Mo-yu-lo called 'Gangadwara', Gateway of the Ganges.

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. One of the two major dams on the river Ganges, the Bhimgoda, is situated here. Built in 1840s, it diverts the waters of the Ganges to the Upper Ganges Canal, which irrigated the surrounding lands. Though this caused severe deterioration to the Ganges water flow, and is a major cause for the decay of the Ganges as an inland waterway, which till 18th century was used heavily by the ships of the East India Company, and a town as high up as Tehri, was considered a port city. The headworks of the Ganges Canal system are located in Haridwar. The Upper Ganges Canal was opened in 1854 after the work began in April 1842, prompted by the famine of 1837-38. The unique feature of the canal is the half-kilometre-long aqueduct over Solani river at Roorkee, which raises the canal 25 metres above the original river.

Haridwar From Opposite Bank of The Ganges, 1866

'Haridwar Union Municipality' was constituted in 1868, which included the then villages of Mayapur and Kankhal. Haridwar was first connected with railways, via Laksar, through branch line in 1886, when the Awadh and Rohilakhand Railway line was extended through Roorkee to Saharanpur, this was later extended to Dehradun in 1900.

In 1901, it had a population of 25,597 and was a part of the Roorkee tehsil, in Saharanpur district of the United Province, and remained so till the creation of Uttar Pradesh in 1947.

Main Bathing Ghat, Haridwar, 1880

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), including the Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, which has a vast campus, and has been providing traditional education of its own kind, since 1902. Development of Haridwar took an upturn in the 1960s, with the setting up of a temple of modern civilization, BHEL, a 'Navratna PSU' in 1962, which brought along not just a its own township of BHEL, Ranipur, close to the existing Ranipur village, but also a set of ancillaries in the region. The University of Roorkee, now IIT Roorkee, is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutes of learning in the fields of science and engineering.

Har Ki Pauri, Haridwar, 1820

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