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
Posted by Mee at 02:08