Haridwar is an ancient city and important Hindu pilgrimage site in North India’s Uttarakhand state, where the River Ganges exits the Himalayan foothills. The largest of several sacred ghats (bathing steps), Har Ki Pauri hosts a nightly Ganga Aarti (river-worshipping ceremony) in which tiny flickering lamps are floated off the steps. Worshipers fill the city during major festivals including the annual Kanwar Mela.
Accessible by cable car or steps, the ornate hilltop temples of Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi offer panoramic views of the plains from opposite sides of the Ganges. Another important pilgrimage temple is Maya Devi by Birla Ghat. Daksheswara Mahadev Temple lies amid havelis (mansions), sacred ashrams and an ancient banyan tree just south of Haridwar in the town of Kankhal. Near Haridwar, Rajaji National Park in the Shivalik Hills offers jungle safaris to see tigers, elephants, leopards and more than 300 species of birds, plus rafting on the River Ganges.