Haridwar lies 52 km (32 miles) south-east of Dehradun. Lying at the base of Shivalik Hills on the edge of the Himalayas, it is one of India’s seven sacred cities. The holy Ganges leaves the mountains to start its lengthy course eastwards across the plains of Haridwar. Every 12th y the annual Kumbh Mela takes place here and millions of pilgrims come to bathe in the river. The Dikhanti festival, celebrated in spring, also draws crowd, but at other times this mini-Varanasi has a generally placid, small-town atmosphere.
The winding streets through the bazaars are crowded with stalls selling bathing ghats. The Har-ki-Pauri Ghat marks the point where the river leaves the Himalayas. Every evening at sunset the arti ritual is performed by priests and the river is blessed. Small diyas or lamps are floated on the water and glide down the river. Haridwar has since ages been a source of Ayurvedic medicines and has been providing herbal remedies.