The holy city of Haridwar in Uttarakhand (a state in northern India) is teeming with religious sites and worshipping ceremonies that attract pilgrims and spiritual seekers from far and wide. It's a popular destination from Delhi, which is located about 137 miles (220 kilometers) down the road. The quickest way to get there from the capital is to fly, the cheapest to take a bus, but most people take the train because it's quick, affordable, and convenient.
|Train||4 hours||from $2||Traveling on a budget|
|Plane||40 minutes to 1 hour||from $35||Arriving on a time crunch|
|Bus||6 hours||from $4||When the train is fully booked|
|Car||5 hours||137 miles (220 kilometers)||Exploring the local area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Delhi to Haridwar?
The cheapest option is also the second-fastest option, which makes it the most popular. Indian Railways operates several trains along this route, but if you want to save the most money, take the night service—the Nanda Devi Express 12205—and save on a hotel or hostel. This train departs from the New Delhi railway station at 11:50 p.m. and arrives at Haridwar Junction at 3:55 a.m. daily. It includes classes 1A, 2A, and 3A (you should read up on Indian railway classes before booking, but all of these options would be outfitted with a bed). The Nanda Devi Express is also the fastest train, according to Yatra, taking four hours.
If you're not willing to sacrifice a night in a hotel, then perhaps you'd like to leave at 6:45 a.m. on the 12017 Dehradun Shatabdi. Unfortunately, this is one of the slower direct train routes (four hours, 45 minutes). You can take other trains throughout the day, too, but you may be faced with transfers. In any case, tickets typically start around $2, but exact fares depend on the class you choose. The only concern is that trains do book up early, especially from April onward (the most popular time for Hindu pilgrims), so book early (or at least put yourself on the waitlist).
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Delhi to Haridwar?
The fastest way to get from Delhi to Haridwar is to fly. According to Skyscanner, flights from Indira Gandhi International Airport to Dehradun Airport, also known as Jolly Grant, take between 40 minutes and an hour, but that doesn't include the time it takes to get to and from the cities on either side. Delhi's airport is about a 20-minute subway ride from the center, whereas Haridwar's nearest airport is a 40-minute drive. On top of that, one-way tickets start around $35, which is relatively expensive compared with a $2 train ticket.
Regardless, there are several airlines that fly this route (offering 70-plus flights per week), including SpiceJet and IndiGo, so if you need to get there quickly, this is your best option.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
Haridwar is 137 miles (220 kilometers) from Delhi by road and it takes about five hours to drive the distance in normal conditions. Many advise against attempting to self-drive long distances in India, but you can just as well hire a car with a driver. The roads aren't terrible, but most hotels in Haridwar don't include parking. Being that this one of the most expensive options, but not the fastest, most visitors opt for taking the train instead.
Is There a Bus That Goes From Delhi to Haridwar?
RedBus, UTC, and UPSRTC (the latter two being public buses) service Haridwar from Delhi, and even though it's the slowest option (and costs slightly more than the cheapest train ticket), it's a great budget-friendly backup plan for when the train is booked (as it often is). Travel time is usually six to seven hours, with one stop for lunch or dinner.
When deciding between a private bus company and a government operator, go with the latter. It's generally cheaper (starting at $4 versus $7) and offers a better, more reliable standard of service than private companies. Depending on the level of comfort required, you can choose between an air-conditioned "luxury" Volvo (the common UTC option), an air-conditioned Deluxe (Hi-Tech), Semi Deluxe, and the ordinary bus, which is the cheapest. Some even have wireless Internet.
Fares typically are lower for non-air conditioned seater buses and increase with air-conditioned semi-sleepers or sleepers. If you're traveling overnight, it's worth paying the extra to get a decent sleep.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Haridwar?
The route between Delhi and Haridwar is sometimes, like other parts of India, plagued by fog. This usually happens during the winter and spring, but it can put an unexpected damper on travel plans, whether you plan to drive, be driven, take the bus, or the train. The dense fog problem has been known to bring public transportation to a halt.
If crowds are not your thing, then avoid Haridwar during its religious festivals (Kumbh Mela—the big one, celebrated only every 12 years in March and April—Holi, and Kanwar Mela, to name a few). This is when Indians and tourists alike flood into the city to fill up hotels, trains, and buses.
Can I Use Public Transportation to Travel From the Airport?
The Dehradun Airport is about 25 miles (41 kilometers) by road from Haridwar and takes 40 minutes to drive. Because Haridwar isn't the main city served by Jolly Grant, there are no direct bus services. You can, however, catch a public bus to Dehradun or Bhaniyawala and catch another public bus to Haridwar from there.
What Is There to Do in Haridwar?
The ancient city of Haridwar is built on the Har-Ki-Pauri Ghat, a holy river that plays host to many ceremonies and festivals. You shouldn't miss the nightly ganga aarti, a worshipping ceremony in which flickering lamps are sent out into the water. Overlooking the city is Shri Mata Mansa Devi Mandir, a Hindu temple that sits atop a peak in the Sivalik Hills (the outer Himalayas). For more spiritual sightseeing, head to Chandi Devi Temple, Maya Devi Temple, Bharat Mata Temple, or Daksheswar Mahadev.