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Images from Haridwar

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10 Images,   1443 Views

From Lucknow, I traveled to Hardwar. This place has two names that sound similar but have a subtle difference. Followers of the Hindu God Shiva (or Hara) call this place 'Hardwar' while followers of the Hindu God Vishnu (Hari) call this place Haridwar. 'Dwar' means Gateway. Technically, this place serves as the gateway to the Himalayas. Haridwar (or Hardwar) is regarded as one of the seven holiest places to Hindus. The River Ganges, after flowing for about 150 miles from its source at Gomukh in the Himalayas, enters the Indo-Gangetic Plains of North India for the first time at Haridwar. Legend has it that during Samudra Manthan (Churning of the Milky Way) a drop of the elixir of immortality accidentally spilled over here from the pitcher that Gods were carrying. As a result, bathing in the Ganges in Haridwar, is said to not only cure people of mortal diseases but free them of all sins.

 
1/10. Little Things by Amardip Ghosh | 310 views

As I walked along the busy streets on either side of the river near Har Ke Pauri, I saw many people. Young couples, old men and women and many mendicants. The streets here were lined with shops selling articles of worship, food and shelter. I saw a family insisting this mendicant on having an ice cream with them. A moment later I spotted him in the crowd.

Little Things
 
2/10. The Bathing Ghats by Amardip Ghosh | 299 views
Digital Photograph


Near where the drops of the elixir of immortal life fell (ref. Indian Mythology) people get busy to bathe and wash off their sins and ailments. Since Haridwar is at the foothills of the Himalayas and the water of the river still has enough current, the municipality of Haridwar have installed many guard rails along the ghats which people can hold on to while bathing to avopid being washed off down stream. What i found more interesting was there were several small bridges over the river here and beneath each bridge, there were many chains like the one shown in the picture. The idea is, if one gets washed downstream, he will get several chances of holding on to one of these chains and get back to the ghats. Ofcourse, some people use them to enhance their bathing in the river experience.

The Bathing Ghats
 
3/10. Oil Lamps by Amardip Ghosh | 284 views
Digital Photograph


During the evening prayer of the river, priests in all temples along the river, light up oil lamps which they wave in unison as a chanting fills up the incipient evening adorned by the sound of a fast flowing water of the river that has just descended from the mountains about to begin its course on the plains. Once the prayer ends, many priests carry trays with small oil lamps to the people. One places the palm of his hand over the fire (at a safe distance, close enough to receive the warmth of the flame) and then touch their head in a gesture as if taking the energy of worship with them back home.

Oil Lamps
 
4/10. The Waving of the Hands by Amardip Ghosh | 284 views
Digital Photograph


As a crowd gathered around the river, for the evening prayers, a priest chanted verses adulating the holiness of the waters of the Ganges in Haridwar. People raised and waved their hands and chanted and repeated portions of what the main priest chanted. Almost like a crowd gathered at a rock concert.

The Waving of the Hands
 
5/10. The Wish Bearers by Amardip Ghosh | 290 views
Digital Photograph


If you walk along the river, you will see people float earthen Diyas, with burning flickers and flowers in them as a symbol of hope and wishes and sometimes as a prayer for peace for deceased parents and ancestors. The golden hues of floral diyas reflected in the river Ganges present a spectacular view. Following the evening prayer, a spectacle of sound and colour is seen on the river when, after the ceremony, hundreds of pilgrims float such Diyas (floral floats with lamps) and incense on the river at the same time.

The Wish Bearers
 
6/10. The Mendicant by Amardip Ghosh | 269 views
Digital Photograph


While many visitors come to Haridwar from near and far, this place is home itself to many monks and mendicants who give up normal family life and live a life of renunciation and religious practices. I saw one such man sitting in meditation on one of the Ghats on the banks of the Ganges. A majority of present ghats were largely developed in the 1800s. This sacred Ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya (1st century BC) in memory of his brother Bharthari. It is believed that Bharthari came to Haridwar and meditated on the banks of the holy Ganges. When he died, his brother constructed a Ghat in his name, which later came to be known as Har Ki Pauri. The most sacred ghat within Har Ki Pauri is Brahmakund.

The Mendicant
 
7/10. Last Rites by Amardip Ghosh | 305 views
Digital Photograph


While many people visit Haridwar to bathe in the Ganges and wash away their sins and ailments, there are people who also go to pray for the peace of their ancestors or parents. I saw many old men and women and young couples floating floral floats with flowers, sweets, incense sticks and oil wick lamp on the river. Since according to legends and mythology, this place is associated with the Gods (who have even visited this place on their way to their snow clad abode in the Himalayas) it is believed that prayers made here come true and wishes are fulfilled.

Last Rites
 
8/10. The Hairdo by Amardip Ghosh | 319 views
Digital Photograph


It was about midday when I saw this mendicant getting out of the river and drying his hair which was a very convoluted tangled mass. In India some ascetics tear out their hair, while others never touch it so that it becomes a tangled mass. Whether a mendicant will keep his hair or leave it to become tangled depends on the school of monks he belongs to. Buddhist monks for example shave heir head as do many monks of orders from the plains of India. Mendicants who keep their hair do not dye them or pluck out any grey hairs, to serve as reminders of old-age and impermanence of mortal existance.

The Hairdo
 
9/10. Evening River Prayer by Amardip Ghosh | 286 views
Digital Photograph


Every evening at sunset priests perform Ganga Aarti here, when lights are set on the water to drift downstream. A large number of people gather on both the banks of river Ganges to sing its praises. The priests hold large fire bowls in their hands, the gongs in the temples at the Ghat start ringing and the chants flowing out of lips fill the air. Thousands of people from all around the world do make a point to attend this prayer on their visit to Haridwar.

Evening River Prayer
 
10/10. A Place to Stay by Amardip Ghosh | 268 views
Digital Photograph


There are many hotels around the river where one can stay. However, many of them, mostly in the immediate vicinity of the river are randomly priced and not good. People on budget stay here but if possible I would advise staying a bit away from the river and use public and private transport to commute. I did not have a hotel booking till I arrived at 8 am. I walked around for a couple of hours exploring the place and trying to find a place to stay. Eventually one of my friends found this hotel on Expedia.Com in Motichur, about 6 kilometers off from Har Ke pauri and close to the Raiwala Railway station. I would highly recommend this hotel if you are visiting Haridwar.

A Place to Stay

concluding remarks

From Hardwar, I traveled to Dehradun and Mussoorie via Rishikesh. Taking public transportation allowed me to change my travel times and itineraries many times. While Indian Railways has a great network connecting even the remotest small places, bookings often are closed as early as two months before the date of the journey. Traveling by buses allowed the flexibility of last minute changes and the option of traveling to remotest and unknown places. From Hardwar, I saw there were buses to Dehradun, Rishikesh and Lucknow. For traveling shorter distances, one can take autos, tempos and local buses. Haridwar railway statiuon and Raiwala junction are two railways stations in the area.


 


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