Haridwar, India - Gateway to the abode of Gods

The topmost memories from Haridwar are of food and food smells. Small dinky places that dish up some delicious tasty food. The fare – simple and non fussy. “Heavenly food’ is an ingestible experience after all. I admit food took on a new meaning in this town of priests and saints and holiness and piety. Aloo poori, dal katchori-chutney, hot samosas-channa, bhatti ki roti with saag and achaar, aloo paranthas and dahi, hot jalaebis made in ghee, kheer-maal pooa dipped in sugar syrup-crispy and soft, hot pakoras of potato and cottage cheese - the feast was endless. Not once did any of us suffer from any tummy trouble. We gorged happily

There is much to do if you like to look at temples and tramp through the extensive alleys, checking out a mass of trinkets in Haridwar. For us the summer heat was unbearable so trudging out time was really mornings and evenings and afternoon time was for lazing, chatting, napping, reading and ipodding.

Haridwar is a mixture of religious pilgrims and industry. We met some people from Holland who were helping to set up a lathe machine at one of the factories. They had interesting stories to narrate of some of the places they had visited in India and how they attracted locals who wanted to buy dollars from them or sell gaanja or charas to them. They found the Hindi movies good time pass and enjoyed the local chai at the small shops

We stayed at a dharamshala –which was clean, hygienic and very hospitable. Dad used to donate money towards this place’s upkeep over the years so we decided to go check and trace this dharamshala and see for ourselves if the money donated was being put to good use. It was gratifying to see the place being run like clockwork – very welcoming to pilgrims from all over the country, providing clean comfortable rooms and facilities. We were very impressed by this very upscale dharamshala in white marble that shone and sparkled in the sunlight, where service was always with a smile and people had the time to chat and narrate interesting stories of the holy Ganga or of other visitors and their experiences. No food is allowed within the premises here, as a result keeps the 4 legged monkeys at bay

We also meet a pandit in Haridwar who owned archives of revelations in these large, leather bound books with pages and pages of Sanskrit script. The archives dated back to the 17th Century (thereabouts) and every time a member of our clan visited this pandit an entry was always made. Events such as births and deaths are also marked in these records. We too were requested by this saintly man to make some remarks - Dad obliged, in his brilliant handwriting. As a result we all too, are now, part of this documentation, recorded for posterity.

Evenings would see us at Har-ki-Pauri ghat - a transformed landscape from daytime- into this - magical spiritual experience – all set for the Ganga aarti. This experience cannot be missed under no circumstances. Haridwar visit would be a waste if Ganga aarti is not participated in. The feeling of being part of the aarti being performed, the chants, the temple bells, the dark river waters amidst which are little lit lamps surrounded by flowers floating gently in its wake, the hymns and the collective crowds all pulsating in one energy revering the goddess Ganges – all of this, is an enchanting experience of sound and colour. Breathtaking. Makes one marvel at our rich tradition and culture all over again.

Har Ki Pauri is believed to be the exit point of the Ganges from the mountains and entry into the plains. Also known as the Brahm Kund, this ghat was built by King Vikramaditya in memory of his brother Brithari who often meditated on the banks of the river Ganga. History records an imprint of Lord Vishnu’s foot on one of the stones present on the ghat, which is indicative of the name.

At Haridwar, the mighty daughter of the mountains becomes the mother of the land – Ganga Ma


melinda said...

Enjoyable post Mee! There is a palpable energy one feels alive in your posts, well done, am equally proud for it.

sheila said...

Happy coexistance between God and man. Where there is plenty food, there is Godliness:)

Anon said...

Lovely. Lovely pictures too. Makes me want to go there right now


Jim said...

Its was a life changing experience for me at Har ki Paudi-I felt an invigorating energy there that had me rooted to the spot for hours into the night. For sure Haridwar, benares, rishikesh have similar energies. Makes ones belief in something supreme even more stronger.

Mike said...

My experience in Haridwar was one of extremes, and I'm sorry if I ramble -Our week long trip to this vegetarian and alcohol free hamlet of Haridwar left me with a mixed bag of feelings. In it's heart, the town is a beautiful little village nestled where the holy Ganges River flows from the Himalayas, and on the flip side of the equation, due to its religious significance, Haridwar has swollen to epic proportions by a choking glut of pilgrims. Startlingly, the main street through the center of town is polluted beyond redemption. Rapid blasting, ear-splitting horns were offset by the constant ringing of rickshaw bells as the drivers barely embroidered their way through unsuspecting pedestrians. The air is thick with exhaust fumes braided into the sweet smell of incense with the underlaying stench of stagnant ponds of defecation. The streets are lined both homeless and religionless who sleep under any available shelter they can squeeze into. This bothered me a lot. But life exists as does spirituality here. Very troubling

sanjiv said...

Haridwar is packed with people everywhere on the river. Candles skate past in the quick currents of the river and people are everywhere. A terrific and exciting energy can be felt among the was that point that I realized I was glad I had come to Haridwar...and that it actually was more exciting than Varanasi...

Anon said...

Enjoyed this latest post-as always

Ajoy Vakil

Anon said...

Great to hear you had a wonderful experience.

Could not post on your blog directly as the letters did not show:

Excellent ! You make it want a person to be there. The abode.


Anon said...

Meena - kashi. Kahan kahan ghumti rehti hai. Poona bhi to aao

Julian Thadathil

Swaram said...

So nice to be a part of that documentation.

I so wanna flick a few chats off that pic and gorge on them nw :P :P

Shweta said...

We went to Haridwar a couple of years ago, and I was so totally drained from the experience. Its either the heat or the crowds that completely overwhelmed me. But thanks to you I re-lived the nicer parts of the trip which I had forgotten

Raj said...

O man the food there is absolutely to die for, Actually for that matter food in the north is absolutely yummy!

Dr. Sohrab Arora said...

the ganga aarti is the most soulful experience i've had so far. Always makes me go back. The serenity, the hymns, the atmosphere, the celebration of hinduism itself!

I have been there so many times and watched the aarti from all possible angles, but the best one i think is from right across the river, on the opposite bank from har ki pauri. amazing reflections in the river. will take my camera next time and share pics :)

Dr. Sohrab Arora said...

And the chotiwalas! halwa, poori! oh i want to go back again!
thanks for reviving the memories :)

A.G. Komol said...

Really good place for healthy people.

Mee said...

@Melinda - you are the best for my enthusiasm to never wilt:)

@Sheila - you said it!

@Suguna - when r u starting your own blog?:(

@Jim - without this Supreme being, wonder how we'd cope...

@Mike- ramble on:) What u say is true. I think sometimes I play tricks on myself and see what I want to see:)

@Sanjiv-I ditto that too

@Ajoy @DG @Shweta - TY:)

@Julian - just wrte to S asking him to organize a get together soon wil be thr:)

@Swaram @Raj - heheee

@Dr. Sohrab Arora - we did exactly that! We took a boat- mid river anchored it- so away from the madding crowd and yet in the midst of it all:) Was beauteous:)

@A.G. Komol - life wouldn't be the same if we hadn't tasted such "healthy" food:)

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