The temple of wish-fulfilling Goddess Mansa Devi sits high on a hill in Haridwar, one of the holiest seven places in India. It's very popular with pilgrims who flock there in hopes of getting their wishes granted. There are a few things to keep in mind when visiting the temple.
When is the Temple Open?
The temple is open daily, from early morning until evening.
How to Get to There
Mansa Devi Temple can be reached in two ways: on foot or by cable car.
Walking requires a strenuous one and a half kilometer hike uphill. The track is sealed but the exertion can be draining during the hot months. Hence, many people prefer to take the cable car (also referred to as a rope-way or "Udan Khatola" as the locals call it) up and walk down. The first cable car starts running at 7 a.m. during April to October, and 8 a.m. the rest of the year The departure point is centrally located in town.
How to Visit Mansa Devi Temple
Devotees who visit the temple usually like to take some prasad (offerings) for the Goddess. There's no shortage of sellers, either where you board the cable car or outside the temple. Expect to pay between 20 and 50 rupees for plates of flowers, and bags containing a coconut and flowers. The entry to the temple is also lined with vendors peddling everything from jewelry to music.
Inside the temple, you'll reach the footsteps of the Goddess.
Give some of the prasad to the pandits (Hindu priests) and you'll receive a blessing. However, do note that these pandits are very money hungry and are known to openly demand donations (with threats that wishes won't be fulfilled unless you comply).
From there, you'll be herded into the inner sanctum where the idol of the Goddess resides.
The rest of your prasad will be taken, and you'll be given some broken pieces of coconut in return. Quickly make a wish to the Goddess before again being herded onwards.
At the exit, you'll find idols of other gods and goddesses (accompanied by eager pandits) that you can pray to as well.
For wish fulfillment, tie a thread to the branches of the holy tree located in the temple complex.
Tips for Visiting Mansa Devi Temple
The temple gets very crowded during pilgrimage season (April to June) and it's best to get an early start. If you go later and choose to take the cable car, you'll also have to wait hours in the line if you don't pay extra for a premium VIP ticket.
Unfortunately, the temple is commercialized, and many of the pilgrims behave in an uncivilized and disorderly manner. It's not the place for quiet contemplation, so do be prepared for that.
The walk downhill offers panoramic views over Haridwar. Be aware of the monkeys though, and men dressed up as monkeys! (When I visited, there were men dressed up as Lord Hanuman, earning money by giving devotees a tap on the head with their mace).
There's another hilltop temple, Chandi Devi Temple, that can also be visited by cable car or bus from Mansa Devi Temple.
It's possible to buy combination tickets for both.