After the meditation on the Ganges banks, the feeling was as if the water, wind, mountains, trees, birds, flowers, and even the sky was singing in praise of Hrishikesh. We were filled with love and gratitude.
The Ganges seemed to be telling us not to settle here, but to fly and meet her in Haridwar instead.
On the way to our room, we stopped at a small stall for a special type of milk, which was made in a large pan by combining milk with various types of dry fruits and nuts and boiling it until it formed a thick cream.
It was served while still warm. I felt like I was in eternal bliss after sipping it because it was so devilishly delicious.
We finally prepared to say goodbye to Hrishikesh with a heavy heart.
Haridwar is calling
Haridwar means the door of Hari(Vishnu). Devnagri is another name for Haridwar. It is one of the four locations where Amrita, the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilled from the pitcher or Kumbha in which it was being carried away by Garuda, the celestial bird, and Lord Vishnu’s vehicle. As a result, it is one of the four locations where the Kumbh Mela, described as the “largest congregation of humanity anywhere in the world,” is held once every 12 years. Haridwar is also the location where the Ganga River first enters the Indo-Gangetic plains.
A Honest Driver
We rented a car from our hotel to get to Haridwar. The driver, on the other hand, changed his mind and dropped us in the middle. There were many shared vehicles on the way to Haridwar, each costing ₹100 per passenger. Because we didn’t want to share the vehicle due to our luggage, we reserved the entire vehicle for ₹600 rupees.
Many people were most likely on their way to the same location as we were. Our driver took two of them as a courtesy, and it took nearly 20 minutes to arrive in Haridwar at noon.
Each of the two co-passengers were charged ₹100 by the driver. We gave him ₹1000 to pay his ₹600 because we ran out of change. Surprisingly, the driver refused to give us the remaining amount. We told him to return the remaining amount, but he refused to refund our money. We would have gladly given him the change if he had asked politely, but such an attitude is never tolerated. We were moved by his noble, honest demeanour 🤗.
Har ki Pauri
We arrived at Har ki Pauri at 3 p.m. Har ki Pauri is one of Haridwar’s most well-known ghats and landmarks, as it attracts a large number of devotees all year and is highly regarded. Har ki Pauri is located on the west bank of the Ganges canal, which diverts the Ganga northward. Thousands of pilgrims flock here to celebrate the Kumbh Mela festival. The festival occurs every twelve years, whereas the Ardh Kumbh Mela occurs every six years.
We were overjoyed to see the mighty Ganga again. She was flowing fiercely and gracefully between the well-built ghats.
There were thousands of visitors. It’s extremely overcrowded. Some were dipping in the river, others were swimming, and still, others were getting thrills by jumping from bridges in the mighty river’s high flow.
After renting a room adjacent to the ghat and taking some rest, we went out to see the city and the ghats. The evening is the best time to go out because there is a lot of humidity makes you sweat and feel uncomfortable. But, due to a lack of time, we began exploring the city at noon.
The roads were extremely jammed. There were literally hundreds of sweet shops. We explored a few of them and had some delicious sweets, kachori, and badam milk in one of them. It was a delicious experience.
Arati (Ganga Arati)
The sounds of bells began to fill the air in the evening, and people began to gather on the ghats for Ganga arati, and we, too, followed them.
Some were selling flowers, some sat with their eyes closed, some were glancing at the preparation, and some were searching for empty spots to sit. And the security guards were working hard to keep the crowd safe.
The Ganga arati is performed twice daily, in the morning and in the evening. It is typically held between 5:30 AM and 6:30 AM in the morning and 6 PM to 7 PM in the evening.
It’s a beyond-awesome experience. We saw people everywhere who were excited to watch the Ganga arati. Many were holding flower bowls. Tens of priests are getting ready to perform pooja with massive lamps and bells.
The moment that thousands of people had been waiting for had finally arrived. Priests carrying large fire lamps began to worship Maa Ganga with Vedic mantras while ringing the bells. The entire atmosphere was charged with devotion. It was both a spectacle and an attraction in and of itself. It was an absolutely divine encounter.
When the aarti is over, hundreds of devotees offered diyas (leaf lamps) into the river with prayers and wishes for themselves and their loved ones, and it felt like they were experiencing peace and happiness as the lamps float away into the distance.
We spent several hours sitting on the ghat next to the river after the arati. What a great opportunity to enjoy the flowing mighty river, blissful moonlight, floating flower pots, and the gentle breeze.
Even after midnight, people were still celebrating the sacred Ganga dip while reciting her divine name! It was a divine and enjoyable experience.
The next day, we went to the temples of Maa Manasa devi and Maa Chandi devi to receive blessings.
Following that, we traveled to Baba Ramdev’s Ashram, which is approximately 30 kilometers from Haridwar. And the day went by quickly.
On June 4th, we returned home filled with so many wonderful memories.
Before I conclude, I’d like to make an honest observation: The Sacred Ganges River is becoming increasingly polluted. The mighty sacred Ganga in Haridwar is not as clean as it is in Hrishikesh due to irresponsible businessmen, localities, government, pilgrims, and tourists. Every day, a large amount of waste is dumped into the Ganges, including plastic carry bags, plastic bottles, cloths, hair, garlands, food, chappals, and many other items. There are also numerous drainages and factory waste channels connected to it.
There are many responsible people who are working hard to keep the Ganga clean and to raise awareness about the importance of a clean Ganga. And I personally salute them. They are real heroes, in my opinion.
Let us hope that the government and the people will come together and make a plan to keep the Ganga clean in the coming days.
Image Source: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/haridwar
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