We left Rishikesh after visiting worth seeing places in the afternoon and reached within an hour. We had got the address of a good dharmshala and a letter in the name of the manager. We got three rooms, the moment we reached it. We arranged our bag and baggage properly and after taking tea and biscuits we came out of our rooms. It was almost evening. We made a round of the nearby market. We bought a guide book to know about worth seeing places of Haridwar and their location so that we could chalk out our programs accordingly.
We saw a large number of people going towards the Har Ki Paudi – one of the most sacred ghats of all on the bank of the Holy river Ganges. We came to know that they were pilgrims, tourists and devotees and were going to take part in the Maha Aarti held very enthusiastically every evening at the stipulated time.
Haridwar or Hardwar is regarded as one of the seven holiest places (Sapt Puri) of Hindu.
It is believed that a few drops of Amrit (The elixir of immortality) fell down into the water of Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar while being carried in pitcher by Garuda and since then people are of the belief that they will get salvation (Moksha) in bathing in this particular Ghat. It is further believed that these sacred drops also had fallen into on the sacred places of Ujjain, Nasik and Prayag known as Allahabad also.
It is also manifested that Kumbha Mela are celebrated in every 3 years in one of the four places and Half Kumbha after every 6 years and Maha Kumbha Mela every 12 years in Haridwar itself. As from Rishikesh Chhota Char Dham yatra to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri start from Haridwar also. Various types of conveyance with tour packages are available in Haridwar to take Char Dhams comfortably.
Haridwar is the district HQ thickly populated with small and big temples of different deities all around it. It is also popular for yoga and meditation centres. People from all over the countries come here to attend the yoga classes.
Recently Baba Ramdev has established a big yoga centre known as Patanjali Yogpith here in Haridwar where yoga classes are held regularly. There is another attraction that under the able guidance and supervision of Acharya Balkrishna Maharaj Auyrvedic Factory has been set up wherein ayurvedic medicines are manufactured almost for all common and chronic diseases and marketed all over the country through their authorised dealers and distributers on reasonable price.
Besides these Gurukulam for boys and girls have been established to educate them in vaidic system and method.
Hotels and motels of high and low standards are seen in and around the city in a large number to facilitate lodging and boarding of the tourists while dharmshalas of different Hindu community and for common people of middle class of the society are also available either free of charges or on minimal donation. The travel agents for almost all places by road, by railways or by airways are readily available to serve the people round the clock on minimum commission.
The city is quite neat and clean. Traffic management is strict. For security and safety of the pilgrims, tourist and devotees armed forces are vigilant at all places whole day and night. Police and NGO are ready to assist in hours of need if required. People of Haridwar are so gentle that they behave nicely and co-operate the visitors wholeheartedly.
As Haridwar is the footsteps of Lord Shiva and the door to Char Dham, the residents are by birth very religious and devote their time in religious affairs too. Drinking water taps are in abundance all over the city. At night proper lights are switched on on both the sides of the roads and lanes. The most amazing thing we came to know sale and purchase of non-veg items like in Rishikesh are totally banned by order of the law of the land.
We walked for a few hours all around the nearby places and collected important information from the people and the travel agents. We saw some hotels run by house wives. We had our meals there and came back to our residence. We sat together and finalized to stay for three days and to visit only these places:
1. Holy bath in the morning in Har Ki Pauri. Attending evening Maha Aarti at Har Ki Pauri.
3. Manasa Devi Temple.
First day: Holy Bath early in the morning: As usual we got up early in the morning. All of us were aware of our plan to have a holy bath in Har Ki Pauri and as such all were ready with their dresses to wear after holy bath.
Since the Har Ki Pauri was on a walkable distance, we preferred to cover it on foot. We reached the sacred Ghat within half an hour. We noticed a large number of pilgrims, tourists, and devotees of different caste, creed and blood from the different states of the country and abroad. The Ghat was very spacious and pucca. It was well maintained.
In the Ghat the necessary stairs in descending order were made properly for safety of the tourists and their family. Not only this the strong iron chains were also hanging just below the Ghat so that the people could go down by holding it safely.
First of all we asked the boys to take bath in the holy river. They bathed together hand in hand and enjoyed it in sprinkling water on each other like a sort of water play. My wife was ready with towel to dry their bodies but they were not coming out of the water. I asked them to come out, next morning we would be coming again. They came out and wore their dresses. My wife and my daughter along with two children bathed turn by turn.
I bathed in the last. Water was cold a little bit but very soothing and pleasant. I dived into the flowing water three four times, poured Argha to the rising Sun. I came out of the water and put on my clothes. We came back to our residence after taking breakfast. We took complete rest for two/three hours. In the afternoon at 1.30 we took lunch in a veg. hotel run by housewife. Dehradun Basmati rice, pulse, potato – peas vegetables, tomato chatni and salad were the items our dishes. My wife took some curd also. The dishes were very tasteful and nicely cooked and served.
We came back and decided to attend Ganga Aarti in the evening. We slept for a few hours.
Evening Aarti in Har Ki Pauri Ghat: We have heard a lot about evening Aarti at Har Ki Pauri but have never seen it with our own eyes. We were very curious to watch it closely. We reached the Ghat well before time on foot. The road that led to the Ghat was barricaded with long bamboos about 500 yards before its approach, only pedestrians were allowed to enter the restricted areas due to crowd of pilgrims, tourists and devotees willing to attend the evening Aarti. Almost all the dignitaries like DM, SP, MP, MLA were also present at that auspicious and sacred moment of the holy Aarti. We noticed in almost all other ghats the devotees had gathered either to do Aarti or to float burning leaf/paper lamps on the flowing Ganges water current with wishes for betterment of life.
At this holy Ghat the priests were holding in their hands gongs and large bowels with burning fire and doing saced Aarti of the holy river Ganges reciting veda mantras for welfare of mankind. After the Aarti was over, we saw some female devotees floating burning lamps with flowers in small leaf or paper donas (bowels) on the flowing water of the Ganges wishing pleasure, peace and prosperity in life. We bought readymade donas and floated like that one by one and wished for good health, sound mind and happiness in life.
The panoramic views of all the ghats at this time was so scenic that we had no words to describe it.
We made some rounds from right to left for calling us once again to be a part of the sacred Aarti at the holy ghat of Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar.
2nd Day: Shantikunj ( Gayatri Parivaar Mukhya Sthal ):
As usual we had bath in the holy Ganges and hired an auto for Shantkunj. We reached within an hour. We made a round of the Shantikunj along with other devotees, tourists and pilgrims. We stayed there for two hours. We purchased some religious books. Shaktikunj is really a kunj of peace and harmony. It is situated at a calm and quit place far from the din and bustle of the city life. It is an icon of Haridwar. It was founded by Pt. Shriram Sharma- a great scholar, patriot and philosopher. Pt. Sharma established Gaytri Parivar Movement all over the world for awakening of faith and belief in Gaytri Pujan, Kalash yatra by women and religious meetings, seminars, recourses in all the villages, towns and cities of the country and abroad also. Millions and millions devotees are on its roll all over the world who promote the mission and objective of Pt. Shriram sharma after his heavenly abode.
Shantikunj and its sub-centres all over the world is devoted and dedicated to social, ethical, cultural, educational and spiritual awakening of the people through its various programs and objectives.
Divinity is the first and foremost objective of this organisation.
We came back in the afternoon. We hired an auto to the main road and had our meal in a hotel. We took polao, curry and matar – panir with salad and papad. My wife and daughter took curd also. We returned to our residence and took rest. In the evening before sunset we hired an auto and reached the holy Har Ki Pauri for evening Aarti. We stayed there more than two hours and enjoyed it with all the devotees.
We came back and decided to visit Manasa Devi Temple next day after holy bath in the sacred Ghat of Har Ki Pauri.
3rd. Day: Manasa Devi Temple: We got up early in the morning and reached the holy Ghat of Har Ki Pauri at 6.30 well prepared with our dresses to wear after bath. We noticed this day also a large crowd in and around the holy Ghat of Har Ki Pauri. We bathed in the sacred river Ganges one by one and became ready to leave for Manasa Devi Temple. We came out of the Ghat and hired an auto.
As soon as we reached the site, we preferred to go up temple on foot by road as we noticed some families with their children going up on foot. When we asked them, they said it would take less than an hour. We filled up our water bottles and bought some biscuits and snacks packets for children. My eldest son said to us, “ Let us go up on foot and get the experience of mountaineering, we will can enjoy our journey better and can have a panoramic view of the whole city of Haridwar at a time. My other sons and daughter seconded him. My wife, daughter and I were lagging behind in ascending the hill of Shivalik. The children were so enthusiastic that they were going up speedily. We were taking rest for some time and then resuming our journey.
We reached at last after one hour. The whole area of the temple was crowded and devotees were standing in queue. We decided to take rest for an hour. We went round the temple and enjoyed the beautiful scene and scenery all around the hill. The whole city of Haridwar was visible from the top of the hill. My youngest son started crying all of a sudden to see an Aughad Baba peculiarly dresses with holding a spear and a damru in hands. We tried to persuade him this or that way with toffee and toys but in vain. Her mother took him on her lap and showed him the whole city as our city, our houses and our gardens very near and reaching our home soon when we got down after a few minutes. After great persuasion he stopped crying.
We washed our mouth and hands and stood up in a queue. We did darshan and pujan comfortably with ease. The temple is also known as “ Bilwa Tirth” – one of the Punch Tirth of Haridwar. The temple is a “Siddha Peeth” like “Chandi Devi Temple” and “ Maya Devi Temple”.
Manasa is regarded as a sister of Naga Vasuka. The devotees use to come from the different parts of the country and use to tie up the holy threads to the branches of the nearby tree with sheer faith and belief that their desires would be fulfilled and as soon their desires are fulfilled, they come once again to untie their holy thread in gratitude.
We rested again for an hour and warned the boys to go down slowly and carefully in descending from the Shivalik Hill.
We started our return journey once again on foot. We rested in the ways and enjoyed the eye-catching views of the nature – greenery all around. Our joy knew no bound to see the green fields. We hired an auto again and came to our dharmshala. We were so tired and exhausted that we lied down on our beds. My eldest son with his younger brother came out and brought packed roti-dal-sabji and one plate vegetable polao. All of us were feeling hungry. We can console anybody but not the stomach. We have to fill it up as and when required.
We asked the owner of the dharmshala to prepare the bill for our lodging and boarding in full and final till next morning since we were leaving for home. After taking meal we slept for a few hours.
In the evening the weather was very fine. Cool wind was blowing. The Sun was about to set in the west horizon, the birds were flying up to their nests. Some stars were twinkling above the sky. So far as I remember it was a Purnima (Full Moon Day) and as such the full moon was looking extremely beautiful and soothing our eyes. The whole area was enlightened with the cool rays of the full moon.
We came out of the residence and did some shopping in the nearby market. We decided to take south Indian dishes. It was 9 PM. We took sada dosa, idli and sambhar bada together. We came back by rickshaws this time enjoying the shops and the people shopping both the sides of the roads. We noticed some small temples of deities also. We tied up our bag and baggage and entrusted with the responsible persons to carry carefully to the railway station. Our tickets were from Haridwar to New Delhi in the morning at 7. 30. New Delhi was about 215 KM from Haridwar and arrival time was 1. 15 PM. We had reserved our rooms in a guest house one month back in Khel Gaon, New Delhi. There was no problem in staying in New Delhi.
As per our program we left for New Delhi early in the morning at 6 AM by an auto. Our next destination was New Delhi.
Writer: Durga Prasad. Dated 10th. April 2015 (My birth Day)