I read somewhere – “Holidays are a perfect time to reflect on our blessings and seek out ways to make life better”. & with a lo-oo-ng weekend in hand (24th – 27th Mar) we set out for a quick getaway to Haridwar & Rishikesh.
I am dividing this blog into 2 parts – Day 1 at Haridwar & Day 2 at Rishikesh … for these 2 cities are so close yet so apart!
We packed our bags & set off for Haridwar on Thursday, 24th Mar, from Delhi. Amazingly, we covered the distance of ~221 KM’s in less than 4 hours! All thanks to the awesome Western U.P Toll Road! We managed a speed of 100-110 KM/H for most of our way. The highway is super smooth & thanks to Thursday being Holi there was hardly any traffic.
On our way, we stopped for special tea & ‘paneer-pakora’ at the very famous ‘Jain Bhojnalay'.
The ancient city of Haridwar, also the gateway to four pilgrimages of Uttarkhand – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri, is located on the banks of River Ganges. It is the place where The Holy Ganges descends to the plains.
We reached the city mid-day & checked into a hotel, on Upper Road, which was only about a KM from Har-Ki-Pauri, the holiest place in Haridwar. It is believed by Hindus that salvation of the ancestors can be reached by taking a dip into the holy waters at Har-Ki-Pauri.
Tip: One can easily get a decent hotel within INR 600-700, but be ready to haggle. Beware of the ‘agents’ roaming around in the streets promising to get a cheap yet ‘best-in-class’ hotel. If you reach a hotel through one of these agents, you will sure be charged exorbitantly for a very ordinary room. The entire Upper Road is full of economical hotels & “Dharamshalas”. So, it is suggested to walk around & self-find a place to stay.
Walking on the streets of Haridwar was like playing dodgeball … we had to move between pedal- rickshaws, tuk-tuk’s (battery rickshaws), tanga’s (horse carts), ever honking bikes & pedestrians. But the old city had the charm of its own.
It was amazing to see the simplicity with which the Haridwar streets were attempting to sell its goodies! :)
As we walked towards the ‘ghats’, we saw a glimpse of Haridwar’s Holi.
We ate to our heart’s content at Frontier Vaishno Hotel.
I noticed something really distinctive in all the restaurants, big or small, in the city - we were served water in gigantic pitchers with no handle!! Check out the “Jagga-dada” below ;)
After peit (stomach)-puja ;) we headed towards the ghat for the actual puja, the evening “Ganga-aarti”.
The aarti started at about 6.45 PM and lasted for 30 minutes. It was a sight to behold! Devotees had gathered in large numbers to express gratitude for their lives & blessings! While I am not a religious person, it was appeasing to feel so much of positivity around.
The Ganges glowed & glittered like gold as the sun started to set. The holy water was dancing to the tune of the sun & the wind and I remember uttering a silent “Thank You” in that moment. I think this is when I connected with God.
After the Ganga-aarti, we headed for a dip into the Ganges. It was already late evening & the water was freezing.
I think I left behind a part of me there, hopefully adding a little more sparkle! <3
We had dinner @ Frontier Vaishno Hotel (again!), we loved the food so much! & also the hotel was right next to the ghat.
While walking back we saw The “Mansa Devi Temple”, glittering like a star! It’s an hour trek on foot or can also be reached through a rope-way, lovingly called the “Udan Khatola” :D
A spectacular day came to an end, with our first objective surely being met – “reflecting on our blessings”! J <3
Next day, we grabbed a wholesome breakfast at the very authentic & historical “MohanJi Poori Wale”. We were served aloo-poori on leaves, each plate costing 60 bucks. We had to wait for almost half hour to get a place to sit but the wait was worth it! Lassi is a must try too here.
Finally, It was time to head towards "Rishikesh"! (Blog coming shortly!)