Haridwar is mentioned in various ancient Indian scriptures (Purans, Upanishads & Mahabharata) as a Mayapur, Kapilsthan, Mokshdwar or Gangadwar. In Mahabharata great sage Dhaumya mentioned Haridwar (Gangadwar) as a major pilgrimage town to Yudhisthira.
The legendary King Bhagirath, great grandson of the King Sagar of Suryavanshi clan (an ancestor of Lord Rama), is said that he brought the river Ganga down from heaven, through his long penance of many years, for the salvation of the souls of his 60,000 ancestors from the curse of the sage Kapila. The penance was answered & the river Ganges trickled out from Lord Shiva's locks and its ample holy waters rejuvenated the 60,000 sons of King Sagara. Sage Kapila lived here in his ashram so this place was also known as Kapilsthan. The tradition which was established by King Bhagirath is now followed by thousands of Hindu devotees, who bring the ashes of their departed family members, in hope of their salvation by the water of river Ganges.
Pandits (Priests) of the Haridwar have been known to keep genealogy records of most of the Hindu population. Known as vahis, these records are updated on each visit to the city, and are a repository of vast family trees of family in North India.
It is also said that Haridwar has been blessed by the attendance of all three major Gods; Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh. 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. It is believed to have been the place where Sati (Lord Shiva’s first wife) consigned herself in the Yagna (sacrificial fire). The terrible TandavaNrutya (dance of destruction) performed by Lord Shiva in sorrow led to Lord Vishnu dismembering Sati’s body, with the different parts scattering across India. Pilgrims believe that they can go to heaven by getting their salvation after a holy dip in the river Ganges at Haridwar.
From several years Maa Ganga has been doing the duty of absorbing the heat and negativities of this earth. Gegraphically Haridwar is divided in several small areas such as Mayapur, Jwalapur, Ranipur, Har Ki Pauri, Devpura, Motichur, Bhupatwala, Haipur Kalan, Shivalik Nagar, Haipur Kalan, Brhampuri. Not only this, Haridwar is the place where one of the four places where Kumbh Mela occurs after rotation of every twelve Years and ArdhKumbh after every six years.