HARIDWAR- A PLACE FOR MOKSHA
A place where hundreds of people flock together every day with a common hope of ‘Moksha’ for the departed souls of their loved ones, a place where a ritual that may evoke poetic thoughts with the visual of thousands of tiny oil lamps in a river with fading evening lights in the background, a place where the holy river becomes tiny with sea of devotees in millions for a festival that comes once in 12 years and this divinely chaotic place is known as Haridwar.
Only very few places around Delhi which are famous not for Picnic only but for religious need too. Out of that Haridwar may comes first due to proximity to Delhi because of its divinely atmosphere, temples and rituals.
WHERE IS HARIDWAR
Haridwar with the most symbolic meaning “Gateway to Heaven” and that is how sacred this place is considered which is on the foothills of mighty Himalayas. This is around 220 kms from Delhi and this is the place pilgrims to Chardham which means four Abodes starts namely Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. This is also the place where Kumbh Mela takes place every 12 years in which millions of visitors and pilgrims from all over the world comes to attend. This city is now famous for Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Headquarters too.
Buses are best option to reach this place from Delhi as driving to this place is so tedious, but since there are many locations within Haridwar and then nearby Rishikesh driving travelling in private cars makes it convenient, provided facing the trauma of crossing Delhi in an evening time to enter the road to Haridwar. It would be double punishment if a road is missed due to not familiar with the routes. And finally it took almost 7-8 hours to reach the hotel at almost early morning.
An one day trip is enough to cover most of the temples in Haridwar and for a quick visit in Rishikesh with, if short on days to spent more and it is easy to choose where to attend the evening Aarati from either of these two places. Many visitors tries to skip this as it is in the evening and in a hurry to leave but realistically this can be placed in the top of the list while planning this trip, missing an opportunity to witness this special type of ritual is like.
HAR KI PAURI – STEPS TO LORD SHIVA
Our first stop was Har Ki Pauri which means Steps to Shiva. Regarded as the most divinely place in Haridwar where lakhs of believers from all over India visits and even many foreigners too to get a feeling of this holy place. This place too is a ghat with steps arranged along the flow of River Ganga.
Mostly on day time many of this Ghats are busy with many priests offering poojas for immersing ashes or Asthi Visarjan brought from many places of India so that the soul will reach abode of God as per the Hindu beliefs. Normal visitors and devotees were also perform another pooja for the departed souls which is known as Pinda dan, normally and yearly ritual conducts on death anniversary like people of Kerala performs on Karkkidaka Vaavu. The particular area gets so crowded with all these functions along with other normal travelers, especially in the morning hours.
As my dad has passed away approximately a year back I also performed a pooja. Since it rained recently the flow was so powerful like strong waves of a rough sea. The final part of such pooja was immersing the pooja items and bathing in the holy river Ganga as per the ritual. But the flow was such that forget about bathing even dipping a feet in to the flow of water was impossible even for few seconds. Locally made arrangements were available with strong chain tied on the hand rails for holding firmly for the safety of everyone as devotees tries to make the ritual in complete sense.
We spend some more time to experience this particular place where hundreds of Indians defying class and caste were sitting on the banks of River Ganga praying for a common purpose expecting the souls of their near ones’ would probably get Moksha in the home of God.
AARTI IN RIVER GANGA – RIPPLES WITH LAMPS
Just few more steps away from Har KI Pauri there is a temple known as Ganga Mandir with the deity itself is Mother Ganga, with other small idols along with it. Not too much rush during the visit then, but every evening this place will be crowded for experiencing the famous Ganga Aarati. All of us wanted to witness it but settled with a smaller one in Rishikesh Ghats as locals were informed us that as early as by 4 Pm people will starts gather to find the perfect seat to witness this rare marvelous sight, which we couldn’t experience anywhere may be. Imagine the sight of 1000s of small oil lamps flowing on the river with reflection of fire bowls holding by priest in the shadow of evening sun. Words are not enough to describe this kind of an event that will fall into the category of see it to experience it.
There are many more temples around to visit; including a dedicated temple for Bharat Mata is just 2 Kms away from the ghat. But we chose to visit another Chandika Devi temple almost 4 km far away but situated in a mountain called Neel Parvat with two options to reach there; a 3 Km trekking or travelling by cable car. And we choose the second one as that was the main attraction as it gives a chance to ride in a cable car to reach a mountain which would be a rare by any account.
NEEL PARVAT – GET A BIRD’S VIEW OF CITY FROM A CABLE CAR
Most of tourists to the city also goes to this temple and at the starting point is there is another small temple – Neeleswar temple – where we need to collect the tickets to enter the starting point of the cable car. Four people can sit in a car and almost 750 meters in length is to be travelled to reach the temple. Needless to say the all round view we were experienced while the car was climbing up was another incredible sight the eyes. Hills on one side, forest on the other side along with the glimpse of River Ganga and Haridwar is a treat to watch.
The temple up is one of the three Shakthi peeth and a fairly large number of people than we thought were lined up for Darshan. The main deity is said to be installed by Adi Shankaracharya during his trip to Himalayas in 8th Century. Many shops selling pooja articles, different types of stuffs and also local snacks, foods for refreshments were available to make every visitor comfortable after temple Darshan.
Another temple in the same hill within walkable distance was also situated housing Anjana Devi, Mother of Lord Hanuman. Presence of a temple with not so popular deity in south, especially in Kerala was new information to all of us that few more distance of climbing by foot were covered with so much excitement.