Churning of the ocean–Statues from the Haridwar city
The churning of the Ocean of Milk or the Milky Way was an elaborate process. Mount Mandarachala was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, the king of serpents, became the churning rope. The demons (asuras) demanded to hold the head of the snake, while the demigods (devas), taking advice from Vishnu, agreed to hold its tail. As a result the demons were poisoned by fumes emitted by Vasuki. Despite this, the demigods and demons pulled back and forth on the snake’s body alternately, causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn churned the ocean. However, once the mountain was placed on the ocean, it began to sink. Lord Vishnu in His second incarnation, in the form of a turtle Kurma, came to their rescue and supported the mountain on His back.
Haridwar has been an abode of the weary in body, mind and spirit. It has also been a centre of attraction for learning various arts, science, and culture. The city has a long-standing position as a great source of Ayurvedic medicines and herbal remedies.
Temples are widespread in each and every place of the Haridwar city. The temples of Haridwar are highly revered. Haridwar has many small and big temples, spread in the mean streets of the city. Most of the Haridwar temples are dedicated either to Shiva or Vishnu.
It is known for housing many popular temples for Hindus. The town’s name is an amalgamation of two words, Hari (meaning God) and Dwar (Gate).
The legendary King, Bhagirath, the great-grandson of the Suryavanshi King Sagar (an ancestor of Rama), is said to have brought the river Ganges down from heaven, through years of penance in Satya Yuga, for the salvation of 60,000 of his ancestors from the curse of the saint Kapila, a tradition continued by thousands of devout Hindus, who brings the ashes of their departed family members, in hope of their salvation. Lord Vishnu is said to have left his footprint on the stone that is set in the upper wall of Har-Ki-Pauri, where the Holy Ganges touches it at all times.
The Samudra Manthan process released a number of things from the Milk Ocean. One product was the lethal poison known as Halahala. (In some versions of the story, this poison escaped from the mouth of the serpent king as the demons and gods churned.) This terrified the gods and demons because the poison was so powerful that it could contaminate the Milk Ocean and destroy all of creation. On the advice of Lord Vishnu, the gods approached the compassionate Lord Shiva for help and protection. Lord Shiva inhaled the poison in an act of self-sacrifice but his consort Parvati, terrified at the thought of losing him, prevented it from descending into his body. The poison remained trapped in Lord Shiva’s throat. The color of Lord Shiva’s neck turned blue. For this reason, Lord Shiva is also called Nilakanta (the blue-throated one).