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Hardwar

ganges, pilgrims, miles, vishnu, day and gate

HARDWAR, ancient historical town and place of Hindu pilgrimage in Saharunpur district, N.W. Provinces, lat. 29 57' 30" N., long. 78° 12' 52" E. ; population (1872), 4800. It was originally known as Kapila or Gupila, from the sage Kapila, who passed his life in religious austerities at the spot still pointed out as Kapilasthana. Hard war, or Hari-dwara, literally Vishnu's Gate, seems to be of comparatively modern origin, as both Abu Rihan and Rashid-ul-Din mention only Ganga dwara, or the Ganges gorge (literally, gate). Tom Coryat visited the place, and described it as 'Hari dwara, the capital of Siva.' The level of the Ganges at Hardwar is 1024 feet. The Ganges falls rapidly to Hardwar, which is 1300 miles from the mouth. It is a great place of pilgrimage, the pilgrims often occupying the valley of the Ganges to a length of nine and a depth of two miles from the village of Doodea past Hardwar and Myapore to Kunkul and Jooalapore. Its celebrity is owing to the proximity of the Rikikase gorge, from which the Ganges escapes from the Siwalik Hills of the Himalaya mountains, thirteen miles above Hardwar. It was a scene of sacred rites long before either Sivaism or Vishnuism developed in their present forms. As the spot where the Ganges issues forth on its fertilizing career, Hardwar obtained the veneration of each of the great religions of India, and preserves the memorials alike of Buddhism, Sivaism, and Vishnuism, and of rites perhaps earlier than any of them. A dispute exists to this day between the followers of Siva and Vishnu as to which of these deities gave birth to the Ganges. The Vishnu Purana is cited by both, as it ascribes the Ganges to Vishnu, and the Alaknanda, or eastern branch of the Ganges, to Siva's Gate ; ' the Vishnuvites maintain that it is Hari-dwara, Vishnu's Gate.' The great object of attraction at the present day is the Hari-ke-charan, or bathing ghat, with the adjoining temple of Ganga-dwara. The charan, or footmark of Vishnu, is imprinted on a stone let into the upper wall of the ghat, and forms an object of special reverence. Each pilgrim

struggles to be the first to plunge into the pool after the propitious moment has arrived, and stringent police regulations are required to pre vent the crowd tramping one another to death, and drowning each other under the sacred water. In 1819, 430 persons, including some sepoys on guard, lost their lives by crushing in this manner, after which accident Government constructed the present enlarged ghat of sixty steps, 100 feet in width. Riots and bloody fights were of common occurrence amid the excited throng. In 1760, on the last day of bathing (10th April), the rival mobs of the Gosain and Bhairagi sects had a long continued battle, in which the almost incredible number of 18,000 are said to have perished. In 1795 the Sikh pilgrims slew 500 of the Gosains. In 1829, Gosains fought their way to the Ganges, Ind many were killed. The great assemblage of pilgrims takes place on the first day of the month )f Baisakh, the commencement of the Hindu solar year (March—April), and the anniversary of the lay upon which the Ganges first appeared upon Barth. Every twelfth year, the planet Jupiter, tieing then in Aquarius, a feast of peculiar ianctity occurs, known as a Kumbh-mela, and is Ittended by an enormous concourse of people. rhe ordinary number of pilgrims at the annual fair amounts to 100,000, and at the Kumbh-mela to 300,000.

Pilgrims conic to Hardwar from all parts of Hindustan and Bengal, from the Dekhan, the Panjab, from Kashmir, Afghanistan, Tartary, Tibet, and China, some as religious devotees, some as worldly tradesmen. For miles around the place it is one immense encampment. Colonel Yule has seen Buddhist pilgrims at Hardwar who had crossed the Himalaya from Maha-Chin, as they said, to visit the holy flame of Jawahunuklii ia the Panjab. A great attack of epidemic cholera occurred at Hardwar in 1783, when 20,000 people died in eight days.—Yule's Cathay, p. 411; Taylor's Visit, p. 177 ; Imp. Gaz.