Hari means “Lord Vishnu”. So, Haridwar stands for “The Gateway to Lord Vishnu”. In order to reach Badrinath, one of the Char Dhams, with a temple of Lord Vishnu, Haridwar is a typical place to start a pilgrim’s journey. Therefore, the name Haridwar. Hrishikesh (हृषीकेश) is a name of Lord Vishnu composed of hrishika meaning ‘senses’ and Isha meaning ‘lord’, thus ‘Lord of the Senses’. The name commemorates an apparition of Vishnu to Raibhya Rishi, as a result of his Tapasya (austerities), as Lord Hrishikesha.
The gateway to the God