Haridwar - The Ancient Holy City by the River Ganges

The Ancient city of Haridwar is an important Hindu Pilgrimage site in Uttarakhand state of India where the river Ganges flows as it exits the Himalayas.  The largest of several sacred ghats (bathing steps), Har Ki Pauri hosts a nightly Ganga Aarti (river worshiping ceremony) in which tiny flickering natural lamps are floated off the steps. People often come here to achieve salvation and some just to get amused by the beliefs and vibrancy. Falling more into the second category, I also decided to visit Haridwar to experience the vibrancy of the city and also somewhat to get rid of my sins (I still don't know how that works to be honest).

Me and my family left around 11am in the morning from Delhi to cover almost 250kms. With so many questions that my 3 year old son and a quick pit stop in between, we reached Haridwar around 4pm and quickly checked into our hotel, kept the stuff, freshened up and left to visit the Har Ki Pauri and witness the famous Ganga Aarti. Thousand of people flock everyday to witness the magical Ganga Aarti which I was about to witness second time in my life.

Though we were struggling to make our way through the crowd, my son mistook the place as Goa and as soon as he witnessed the river flowing, he wanted to go and take a dip thinking its a beach. Well, not his mistake, I remember how much fun we had in Goa, be it the beach or our stay in the hotel. Soon, he realized that this is not Goa, but that did not stop him from having fun. All he meant to do was take a dip in the river and have a time of his life. Well, that's how a 3 year old kid does, I wish we could also live in the moment, but sigh!

Any way, back to the Haridwar from Goa. It was 5.30 in the evening and soon it started to rain, not that it mattered as we were their to take holy bath, but my son started to shiver. Even in summers, the Ganges water is so cold that it takes few minutes to get used to it. With rain along, it felt even colder and we wrapped up quickly after the holy dip in river Ganges and soon the rain stopped. We headed towards the Aarti and paid our respects and sat on the stairs to witness the great. God had a different plan although and soon it started to rain again, heavily this time though. We got up from stairs and took a shelter nearby and witnessed the Aarti from a distance. My son started to shiver badly which made us move from the spot and we started to head towards our hotel.

We quickly had dinner and while everyone slept, I looked at the pictures I clicked and wished it hadn't rained and we could have spent more time near the river Ganga and I could have clicked more pictures. Well, destiny had it and I also fell asleep in a while with camera still in my hands (luckily I didn't break it).

Next morning was sunny and hot. We all woke up early and went near river Ganges and had bath for as long as we could remember (I practically washed my future sins also). My son also had best of his time and he refused to leave (still thinking of it as a beach). We were happy that he was enjoying his state of denial. After the holy bath, we had breakfast and the ladies of the family did some shopping, no surprises here. I however, was busy with clicking and capturing the place in my camera. It was so crowded, small lanes of the market,,, shops filled with souvenirs or selling religious stuff, prashad etc. and every shop was full of people buying anything and everything.

It started getting hotter and hotter and soon, unbearable for us to even think of walking. We came back to the parking and decided to go bit further than Haridwar, towards Mussoorie. Stay tuned for the next chapter.

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