The Kānvar Yatrā or Kavad Yatra (Devanagari: काँवर यात्रा or कांवड़ यात्रा) is annual pilgrimage of devotees of Shiva, known as Kānvarias, to Hindu pilgrimage places of Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand to fetch holy waters of Ganges River, Ganga Jal, which is later offered at their local Shiva temples. The Yatra takes place during the sacred month of Shravan (Saawan) (July -August), according to the Hindu calendar. The Yatra used to be a small affair undertaken by a few saints and older devotees till the 1990s, when it started gaining popularity, today lakhs of devotees from surrounding states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab and some from as far as Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh reach these places to participate in Kanwar Mela, in 2003.
55 lakh pilgrims reached Haridwar, with traffic growing each year, heavy security measures are undertaken by the government and the traffic on Delhi-Haridwar national highway (National Highway 58) is diverted for the period.
Kanwar Yatra is named after the kānvar (काँवर), a single pole (usually made of bamboo) with two roughly equal loads fastened or dangling from opposite ends. The kānvar is carried by balancing the middle of the pole on one or both shoulders.
The Hindi word kānvar is derived from the Sanskrit kānvānrathi (काँवाँरथी).Kānvar-carrying pilgrims, called Kānvariās, carry covered water-pots in kānvars slung across their shoulders. This practice of carrying Kavad as a part of religious pilgrimage, especially by devotees of Shiva, is widely followed throughout India (see Kavadi). Yatra means a journey or procession.