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God's GatewayIdentity and Meaning in a Hindu Pilgrimage Place$
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James Lochtefeld

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195386141

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195386141.001.0001

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The History and Development of a Pilgrim Center

The History and Development of a Pilgrim Center

(p.49) 3 The History and Development of a Pilgrim Center
God's Gateway

James G. Lochtefeld (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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