Mrs. Priti JakhotiyaThe purpose of a human birth is the Final Liberation (Moksha) and the Hindu Dharma has given the 7 cities of Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Haridwar), Kashi, Kanchipuram, Avantika (Ujjain) and Dwarikapuri as the means of attaining it. The Mahakumbha Mela is being organised in the city of Haridwar, the place where Devi Ganga manifested to show the path to attain Hari.
1. The place of pilgrimage for both Shaivas and Vaishnavs
The Kumbha Mela which is held every 12 years, a depiction of the expansive unity of Hindus, is the biggest Holy festival in the whole world. When the sun enters the house of Aries (Mesh) and the planet Jupiter (Guru) enters the Kumbha house the Kumbha parva is celebrated in Haridwar. Millions of Hindus visit the Kumbha Mela for a holy dip in the Ganga, spiritual practice, offering of donations, offering water to deceased ancestors, performing shraddha, vision (darshan) of Saints, religious debates etc.
The ancient city of Haridwar seated on the banks of river Ganga is in Uttarakhand. Here the Ganga gushes from the mountain and slows down when it reaches the plateau. As Bhagwan Shiva released Ganga from His crown onto the earth at this spot this is considered as the region of the Shaivas. The footprint of Shrivishnu is engraved on a rock at the mouth of the Ganga hence for the Vaishnavs this is the region of Shrivishnu.
गङ्गाद्वारे कुशावर्ते बिल्वके नीलपर्वते ।
तथा कनखले स्नात्वा धूतपाप्मा दिवं व्रजेत् ॥
-Mahabharat, Parva 13, Adhyay 64, Shloka 13
Chapter 64 of the Mahabharat states that the sins of those who bathe at the mouth of the Ganga in the places of pilgrimage – Kushavarta, Bilwak, Neelparvat and Kanakhal are cleansed and that they attain heaven (swargalok).
2. Other religious places in Haridwar
Like the Holy river Ganga in Haridwar according to the Purans there are other places of importance
It is here that King Bhagirath brought Ganga onto the earth. Thereafter another king performed austerities and asked for blessings to enable Deity Brahma to reside here. Later Deity Brahma began to reside there because of which the king named it Brahmakund. This is a huge tank into which the Ganga flows with high velocity.
2B. Hari ki paudi
The ‘Hari ki paudi’ is situated close to the Brahmakund. This has a temple of Ganga where every evening ‘Ganga arti’ is performed after which devotees release lit lamps into the river. In the evening the scenario here is very auspicious and pleasant.
This place of pilgrimage is also close to Brahmakund. Shraddha rites are performed here. Devotees gather here especially on the occasion of Mesh Sankranti.
Mayapuri is one of the seven cities capable of endowing Moksha mentioned in the Purans. A temple of Deity Maya is situated a mile away from Hari ki paudi. As King Daksha insulted Sati, Bhagwan Shankar destroyed His yadnya after which He surrendered unto Shiva. As this entire event occurred due to the Great Illusion (Maya) of God Shiva He granted King Daksha a boon that this yadnyabhumi (place where the yadnya was performed) will be known as Mayakshetra.
Due to a prayer made by King Daksha, Bhagwan Shiva installed a Shivalinga famous as Daksheshwar here. Satikund the altar where Sati immolated herself is also here.
At some distance from Kushavarta there is a self-arisen Divine phallus of Bilwakeshwar Shiva in a forest of bilwa trees. Offering bel leaves at this linga is considered as an extremely meritorious act.
Other sacred places such as Neelparvat, Kapilsthan, Bheemghoda, Saptarshi temple and Shravanath also exist here.