I GOT UP FEELING SICKER THAN THE DAY BEFORE. I don’t know if it is the pain, or the dirty streets, or the stress of traveling, but even two days in Rishikesh did not prevent me from having a bad cough, headaches, mild fever, and muscle aches (probably from the luggage carrying). Anyways, I tried getting to sleep earlier, and bought apples to boost my vitamins but this disease seems to get worse by the day. Speaking of fruits, the Indians in this part of India don’t get much fresh fruits or vegetables. The only fruits I saw were bananas, apples and guavas (and even these were mostly bruised or tampered, definitely bad sells in Taiwanese or Malaysian markets) I gave myself loads of medication, before struggling into a shared vikram to Haridwar, my next destination. Haridwar does not has much to see, so it only serves as my hub for my next stop. But as I got to the railway station, all my options were fully booked and it seemed that there were no way of leaving this town by train.
Many people sleeping at the parking lot in front of the railway station
Lines of pilgrims walking from their homes to visit holy sites, some as far as 400km away
Pigs nibble around leftovers near the railroad tracks
The ‘Chotiwala’ mascot at this franchise restaurant
Waiters at restaurant serve sugar with herbs as mouth fresheners after a big meal
HOT, DEHYDRATED AND SICK, I checked into Hotel Mahalakshmi’s Rs 400 double bed with air-cooler (not air-conditioning) and rested until late evening when I got better for walking. Haridwar is situated at the point where the mighty river Ganges emerges from the Himalayas, thus being one of India’s holiest city. During the yatra season, pilgrims from all around the country travel here to pray to the gods and bathe in the holy river. Then, they may join one of the many tours to the other holy cities such as Badrinath and Kedranath. One of the most important religious ceremony happens every evening at the Har-ki-pairi ghat where the Ganga Aarti is performed. Men in blue uniform collect donation from everyone and the devotees start sending baskets of flowers and candle down the river, lighting up Ganges, giving it a very spiritual feel. Worshipers sit by the river, singing chants and waving their hands and hailing to the Ganges with the officers as conductors. I too, joined in with the screaming crowds, although having no idea what I am cheering about. After sunset, the ceremony ends and everyone gets back to their own lodging. I went back to the hotel, swallowed more pills and went to sleep with the Discovery Channel on. After the praying and resting and piles of medication, I hope tomorrow will be a better day.
Pilgrims gather beside the bank of river Ganges
The mighty Hindu god statue at the middle of the river
Flowers in banana leaves to be sold for making wishes
A lady selling bottles for pilgrims to collect the holy water from the river Ganges
Officials in their blue uniform requesting donations from all visitors
The crowds gather obediently awaiting for the Ganga Aarti to start
Placing the prasads onto the flowing river Ganges
Blessings over a fire after the ceremony