My Himalayan Travels – Day 10 & 11
In day 10 and 11, I did some local sightseeing at both Rishikesh and Haridwar before heading back to Delhi and from there back to Bangalore.
Day 10 – The Aarti at Rishikesh
The most significant event on Day 10 is witnessing the Aarti at Rishikesh. To proceed there, one has to cross the Ram Jula bridge, turn right and walk a kilometer to reach the Paramarth ghat at which the Aarti is done at 6 30 pm every evening.
Paramarth is a spiritual organization with a strong youth presence. The Aarthi songs are quite melodiously rendered.
On Day 10, I stayed at Rishikesh in a place called Dewa Retreat which I had booked beforehand. It was not as good as the Divine resort that I stayed on the day before.
Day 11 – Haridwar – Mansa Devi & Chandi Devi
I started from Rishikesh in the morning of Day 11. I reached Haridwar and visited two temples after checking in at the Radisson Blue hotel at Haridwar. Booking a room here was a mistake. It is too far from Har Ki Pauri to be useful. After checking in, I immediately proceeded to visit both the Mansa and Chandi Devi temples in Haridwar. These temples are located in very high nearby hills and are well served with ropeways. The views of Ganga from the top are spectacular. The temples are very small but are supposedly very powerful.
Day 11 – Haridwar – Arathi
The Haridwar Arathi was started by Madan Mohan Malviya as a special prayer for Ganga. As said earlier, Ganga is revered as a mother in India. Her stature as mother becomes more evident in Haridwar and from there down to the plains. Ganga is revered twice a day during both sunrise and sunset. Special mantras are chanted and flames lit to revere her. This ritual is conducted at a place called Har Ki Pauri Ghat which was constructed apparently by King Vikramaditya in the 1st Century AD.
Unfortunately, the Ghat is a fleece zone. Pandas are merciless in their extortion tactics. Everyone will ask for your name, Gothra etc and will make you repeat some mantras. Among them is sprayed an invocation which states that you have committed to give “so much money” for some charity or the other. By the time, you scrape out of this place you might be considerably lighter in your purse.
But the Arathi itself is a very emotionally charged event with everyone participating in the festivity. It is definitely worth seeing.
After spending the night at Radisson Blue (again not recommended), I proceeded to go back to Delhi and from there to Bangalore on the 12th day.
The whole yatra was an amazing experience. It made me feel how insignificant we are as human beings when confronted with the formidable Himalayas. The people who live the region teach us simplicity in beliefs and actions. They are fully aware of the immensity of nature and have fully accepted their part in the equation. We, in our arrogance, still think of taming Nature. This was an incredible experience in humanity for me. I do want to go back to the Himalayas every year.
May the great rishis bless us all and take us to the lap of the Himalayas more often.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti!