Sunday, 18 March 2012

'Haridwar'-God's Abode

Our favourite point- this is where we sat every morning and evening ! simply  gazing  into the calmly flowing river 
Haridwar, An important pilgrimage city in Uttarakhand.

In Sanskrit ‘hari’ means-lord Vishnu and ‘dwar’means –gate/gateway,therefore, gateway to Lord Vishnu. It is also an entry point to the Char Dham (the four main centers of pilgrimage of hindus vizBadrinathKedarnathGangotri, and Yamunotri)

The river Ganges emerges from the mountains to touch the plains here and it enters north India through haridwar only.
 Fast flowing, cold, yet calm River Ganges

We stayed @ Haridwar for two days and our favourite activity was to sit quietly at the Ghats in the mornings and the evenings. Sitting there for long and dipping your feet in the cold river water compels you to sort of meditate and turn over in your mind. Early mornings have a serene calmness about this city with prayer chants being sung almost every where you look.

Being one of the oldest living cities in India, Haridwar finds its mention in the ancient Hindu scriptures. It has also been a centre of attraction for learning various arts, science, and culture. Home to many small temples scattered in the town, haridwar is very famous for the evening 'Aarti'(prayer) which happens daily around 6 pm. So after the evening walk, we headed towards ‘Har Ki Pauri’( "Harmeans "Lord Shiva", "kimeans "of" and "paurimeans "steps") with our cameras.
Impressions- my footsteps! after we decided to go back to our rooms

Lot of people around. There were tourists, who were distinctly identified because of their cameras and there were locals, who come daily to attend the aarti. I had heard a lot about this place from my father earlier though! especially the evening 'Aarti' but my interest was more in finding some subjects for my camera:) so we decided to first find a comfortable place for my parents to sit so that they can listen and meditate/ pray what they had come here for.

My Camera's subject for that evening in the crowd :)
I was hoping to get a picture of some holy men dressed as Sadhu and a perfect picture of Pundits holding the holy 'jyoti' in their hands during Aarti. And I was very lucky to capture both in my camera. While waiting for the pooja to start, I saw a funny looking man dressed in bright red and orange clothes, holding peacock feathers in his hands. He was walking aimlessly yet smiling at every body. This man with a bright red and orange pagri (head gear) on his head also wore some sort of makeup on his face. Surprisingly! With kajal in his eyes and a long tika on his forehead he caught my fancy. I tried to take his picture from far of but I wasn’t satisfied. Then I went to him and requested him pointing towards my camera that I wish to take his picture. Seeing the camera he gave me a broad smile and gave a stately pose for my award winning photo collection :). I took a few pictures of him and gave him some money as my gesture of thanks.

'Aarti' in progress @ 'Har ki Pauri'-my parents were very happy to attend. They say, this is the place and the time when one connects with God 
A 'Sadhu' sitting @ one of the ghats
 By the time I was done admiring his dress, people had settled in for the Aarti to start. In Haridwar, if you look around you will find lots of sadhus and holy men, dressed in dhoti kurtas giving the impression that they have abandoned their family to achieve their spiritual pursuits.
Captured this @ the ghat during 'Aarti'

Offerings to river Ganges

Watching aarti at ‘har ki pauri’ (meaning-footsteps of god) is one such indescribable experience that one can understand only if one experiences it. It is a beautiful spectacle of sound, light and prayer recitals that compels you to ponder things like-god and you! God’s impressions in things around you! etc.
Meditation- I was amazed to see this man meditating near Ganges even with the hustle-bustle of life around!

River Ganges @ the ghat
Going homewards in the evening- I captured these birds on my camera while sitting @ the steps of river Ganges  

Once the aarti was over it was already dark but the hustle bustle of the vendors, saadhus and devotees continued as it was earlier.We also decided to slowly walk back to our rooms at the hotel.
Those two days spent here were truely amazing. I actually thanked my father for bringing us here:) 'coz it was his idea to spend the weekend in Haridwar. He had been prodding the three of us for days to make a trip to this place.
and they were everywhere:)

Sun set @ Haridwar

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