Haridwar + Rishikesh = Excellent weekend.
The Ganga Aarti which is celebrated at 7 pm (7:15 actually) each night, is a spectacular sight, when the aarti ceremony is performed at all temples in Haridwar at the same instant. Hundreds throng to the ghats at Hari-ki-Pairi to participate in this festival. Offerings of lamps and flowers are made to the river immediately following this ceremony and it is a moving sight to watch hundreds of miniature lamps float along the river.
It is all that and more. The Ganga Aarti at Haridwar is simply the most spectacular aarti I have ever seen. I didn’t visit any of the other places in Haridwar, but I went to Hari Ki Pairi twice. The first time, on Saturday, after the Aarti was over. The second time, yesterday, in time for the Aarti.
Rishikesh was a disappointment. Nothing much there. But if you have the time and the inclination to meditate, there are ashrams and yoga training institutes by the dozen. Haridwar is more touristy and boisterous, and the Ganga flows strongly there. And surprisingly clean roads, for a place that teems with tourists. Rishikesh is more for those looking to discover the “spiritual india”. And therefore, loads of foreign tourists. Original plan had been to raft down the Ganga in Rishikesh, but a lack of planning and time put paid to that. I am thinking of doing that later though. Maybe sometime next month, when I find the time.
I sent a miniature lamp afloat too, made a few wishes (one is a bit less, no?), then took a dip in the river at Haridwar, and even swam a few metres. I am pleased to report that my sins have been washed away, and that I am free to start afresh again.
Strangely, the last 1.5 years have seen me visit 3 of the holiest Hindu spots. First, Rameswaram. Then, Puri. And now, Haridwar. Rameswaram was a planned trip, but the other two, I just happened to be in the vicinity of. And guess, what’s common to all three? The priests/pandas are scumbags. Puri was the worst. Honours even between Rameswaram and Haridwar.
And of the four dhams in India (Badrinath, Rameswaram, Puri, and Dwarka), I have now visited two. Nice.
That’s that for now. Shall upload a few pictures when I am back in Blr.