The History and Development of a Pilgrim Center

James G. Lochtefeld

in God's Gateway

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780195386141
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866380 | DOI:
The History and Development of a Pilgrim Center

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This chapter details Hardwar’s mundane history, gleaned from multiple sources. For centuries, Hardwar’s primary attraction was a spring bathing festival—which has drawn larger numbers for the Kumbha Mela at least since the late 1600s—but this pattern shifted late in the 1700s. During the early nineteenth century, the Hardwar fair (the bathing festival) was also north India’s largest marketplace, creating unprecedented wealth. Later, the Upper Ganges Canal and the railroads radically altered Hardwar’s local and religious environment. Each major change also generated conflict—whether between the warrior ascetic bands (akharas) that battled for control over Hardwar’s rich marketplace, or for control over Hardwar between local elites and a colonial administration worried that festivals were breeding grounds for cholera epidemics. The most important struggle came in 1914–17, when Hindu groups led by Madan Mohan Malaviya forced the British to modify plans to dam the Ganges.

Keywords: akhara; ascetic; British colonial administration; cholera; Ganges; Hardwar Fair; Kumbha Mela; Madan Mohan Malaviya; railroad; Upper Ganges Canal

Chapter.  24024 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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