I was not at all expecting what I felt at the end of my trip to Haridwar , the ancient city in the district of Uttarakhand. It was my first experience to stay at Haridwar, although I visited the place twice before, on the way to some other places in the Himalayas.
Haridwar is important in the course of the Holy Ganga because this the first town where the Ganga touches the plains after meandering through the Himalayas. According to the religious beliefs, Haridwar is one of the holiest places in India and by ritualistic bathing in Ganga, one can get rid of the sins to attain Moksha.
The Kumbh Mela (the largest holy congregation in India) is held here every twelve years.
Reaching Haridwar by road in approximately 6 hours from Delhi, I checked in one of the many Ashrams there. These Ashrams have their own vibrations, the daily rituals, the prayers, the temple bells which rings time and again and their daily routines of life which is followed here makes them stand apart from ordinary places to stay. Basic clean rooms and at a very reasonable costs. The food served is very simple and most importantly pure vegetarian. In real sense it is actually not food but Prasadam. That is the reason that it is prepared with love and purity. Offered to the Deity first and then to the devotees.
I was staying near The Bharat Mata Temple and the holy Ganga was flowing just behind my Ashram. So, in the evening, I went to visit the Ghat which was unexpectedly very clean. At the first sight only, I was mesmerized to see the gentle flow of the Ganges. Took a dip in the not so chilling water.It was shallow and the water was too clear to see the pebbles below.
The sun was just setting in and the ghat was being prepared for the evening Aarti (The Prayer). Such a peace and bliss I was experiencing in the cool evening breeze at the ghat and the smell of incense from the distance with the soothing sound of the temple bells.
The Ghat was not at all crowded because it is not the most popular ghat as “Har ki Pauri” few kilometers away from this place in the main town of Haridwar. With this setting, participating in the Ganga Aarti by the side of the holy river, the whole feeling cannot be conveyed in words.
But if you are a first timer to Haridwar you can attend the main Arti at Har Ki Pauri to feel the difference. The Har Ki Pauri is actually considered as the holiest place in that area. But I feel that the real bliss is to stay away from the crowd and still experience the riverside. My experience was that of a personalized ghat where there was less of distraction and more of peace.
Next morning, I left early for Har Ki Pauri. Few minutes rickshaw ride and a bit of walking was very refreshing.
After visiting the ghat, the breakfast at the corner shop made my day. Hot kachori with potato veggie was delicious and not to forget the sweet Jalebis. This is actually typical north Indian breakfast.
Haridwar is also easily accessible by train from Delhi and can be reached in 4 hours only. One can spend weeks here if planned in advance and can take part in Ashram Life, the daily rituals, the Yoga and meditation sessions and even music classes at various places in Haridwar.