I have a passion for all things good in life- be it travel, food, watching plays& films, photography, drinking champagne or just getting pampered in a Spa. Luckily being a Hotel Management graduate, an ex-chef, nutritionist and a journalist, I am eminently qualified to do my job of writing and sharing experiences. My blog is my world and my posts are my straightforward thoughts...come along with me on my culinary voyage!
Visit the northern town of Haridwar,
which is located at the point where the Ganges spills out of the Himalayas.A
Gateway to the four pilgrimage of Uttarakhand, Haridwar is also known as
Gangadwar, Tapovan and Mayapuri.
in “holiness” as many pilgrims come to Haridwar to witness “the footstep of Vishnu”,
Chain links line the ghats because the currents at this part of the river are
so strong, it is easy to be swept away. The town itself is a holy town and is
crammed with pilgrims who come to bathe in the Ganges
and float lit candles down the river as a means of offering. Interestingly, Haridwar
is hot in the summer, but the Ganges water is
always icy cold. The river is fed by melting glaciers and snow peaks.That doesn't stop multitudes from turning up on any given day to bathe in
the waters.Truly, Haridwar is a city that signifies
an arresting blend of Indian culture and spiritual beliefs.The Kumbha Mela here is a big draw and the next Kumbha-mela to be
held here will be from February to May in 2010.
HAVELI HARI GANGA
We had booked
ourselves into Haveli Hari Ganga (also known as Pilibhit house), a mere 500
meters walk through the bazaar at the sacred ‘Har ki Pauri’. Hindus believe Haridwar
was blessed by each member of Hinduism's great trinity, Shiva, Vishnu, and
Brahma. They also believe that Shiva left his footprint in a stone that is now
part of the Har-ki-Pauri Ghat (a section of a river that's used for bathing).We
were given prayer beads to wear and lassi to drink on arrival and we had a room
with a terrace which the Ganges lapped onto!
The Haveli has been designated as a heritage property by the Department of
Tourism, Government of India. The best part is the clean private bathing ghats,
which is a first for a hotel in Haridwar.
The next morning
we awoke before sunrise to go down to the GangesRiver
to watch the sunrise over the mountains. It was absolutely beautiful. We then
hiked up a small mountain to Mansa Devi. It was about a 30 minute stair-master
workout, but the views were worth it! Along the way, we were almost attacked by
the numerous monkeys along the trail. We took cable cars up to the temples of
Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi. These were high on a hill overlooking the town and
the Ganges. Streams of devotees made their way
through the temples, making offerings of flower petals and nuts.Other temples in close vicinity on the
hill itself are the temples of Gauri Shankar, Neeleshwar Mahadev and Anjani
Ganga Aarti is a
riverside religious ceremony that takes place at sunset. The ethereal beauty of
Ganga Aarti is an unparalleled vision. It is accompanied with chanting monks,
symbols, flaming torches, drums, and trumpets. It was a grand production, and
at the end Visitors and locals alike set large leaf boats filled with flowers
and candles afloat on the river amidst the tangy aroma of incense.
vegetarian cuisine is the order of the day. The street food is commendable
especially the ‘Halwais’.The Karigar fries the Jalebis in his huge wok
and it’s a wonderful sight to see his old hands moving with the speed of an
expert. The samosas here are equally commendable, the mutter Ka samosas
are delicious and very different from anywhere else. Do not leave without a
meal at ‘Chottiwala’
Best Way to Reach- Take a Shatabadi to Haridwar. (214 Kms from Delhi). It is also well connected by
trains from all major cities. From the station you would be picked up in a
rickshaw for your hotel.
Best Place to Stay- Haveli Hari Ganga (you can
book online...the packages are
extremely reasonable) or spiritual ashrams
Must Visit in Haridwar- Har Ki Pauri, Chandi Devi, Mansa Devi, Kavand Mela, Daksha
Mahadev Temple, Sapt Rishi, Maya Devi.
Moving Around- Walking, cycle Rickshaws or Blue coloured 3 wheelers
called’Vikram’. They (Vikrams) even take you to Rishikesh which is around
30 Kms away.
By Rupali Dean..published in The Asian Age & Deccan Chronicle