It’s was 8:51 PM when my friend Ankit texted me, “Are you going?” A few hours ago, we had made a plan and it was cancelled because he couldn’t go due to some family reasons. But hang on I said to myself after reading his message, why can’t I go alone? I have a week-off tomorrow and I like travelling alone.
Boom!!! I decided to go to Haridwar at 9:00 PM. without knowing where I will stay, what I will do, and how I will go. And my unplanned trip began.
I packed my bag and fill in whatever necessary items I could. Meanwhile, I contacted one of my friends and he told me that I could by a roadways bus which is readily available at Kashmiri Gate (I don’t prefer Volvo just to make my trip as cheap as possible, comfort is certainly not my priority).
I left Delhi at around 12 in the midnight and reached Haridwar 5:30 AM. As soon as I landed, I could feel the cool breeze flowing in the town and I knew it was due to the presence of the Ganga.
Soon, I reached a bridge where I could see the sun rising and making the Ganga glow orange and yellow in the morning. The moment was picturesque something very soothing to one’s soul. I then decided to walk from that bridge to ‘Har ki Pauri‘ (a revered place which is the major landmark of the holy city of Haridwar).
I slowly walked along the outskirts of the river while feeling the cool breeze. The sound of the water while striking the walls was something very special to me as in busy city life, one hardly gets a chance to feel the nature.
After reaching ‘Har Ki Pauri‘, I had to bath and didn’t know where to keep my belongings (I didn’t book a hotel or room, for I wanted to make the trip as cheap as possible). So I had to keep my bag just at the edge of the river and keep a constant check on it. The water was icy cold. For a moment, I felt as if my veins had been frozen. In the summer of India, where the normal temperature stays above 40 degrees, it was very tranquilising.
After bathing and visiting the historically relevant temples, I knew not where to go and what to do, so I just decided to fill in my tummy and have ‘puri-sabzi’.
I then talked to the locals and meanwhile also searched on the internet to find out what more I can do. I discovered that there is a temple named ‘Mansa Devi’ at the top of the hill.
The trek was too steep… it only had stairs which required a big stride and took a toll on my legs. I could easily remember my friend then, for he would have certainly stopped me from going up (frankly speaking, I then thanked God that he didn’t come with me).
It took around 1 hr to reach the top, but oh boy it was tough! I was sweating and my legs were tired, but reaching the top of the hill where I could see the whole city, I felt as if I have conquered something.
The enthusiasm of Indians is way too much when it comes to visiting the holy places and I could feel that. In that hot and humid condition, people came in numbers to visit the Holy temple. Although there is a trolley service available – one can directly go from the bottom of town to the temple without giving a load on their body, I decided to go on foot to check my stamina and pay tribute to the God.
After visiting this temple, I came to know that there is another temple – Chandi Devi – just at the opposite hill. The temple was clearly visible from there… however, going there on foot shattered my nerves. Being too obstinate and adamant, I was very determined to challenge myself and go there on foot.
I reached the base of that another hill where I had to start my next trek at 1 PM after eating whatever I possibly can on my way. I could see that there were a lot less people who were trekking on foot. It was very steep and I had my backpack as well. The conditions were very tough as I was in the middle of the hottest month of the Indian calendar.
The flames of the ‘Jyot’ was burning all the bad energy and thoughts in my mind.
While I was trekking, almost all my bones were tired, but not a single said NO. I was too excited to go up. I took rest in between, drank lemon water so that I stay hydrated all my way (collect water as much as you can to save money, as on the hill station people charge double the MRP).
After 1 hour of trekking, I reached the top and I could feel bliss. The town was clearly visible. One could literally have the aerial view of all the town from there.
I opened my camera and shared my first Instagram video (I am too shy too put my personal life on social media).
After visiting the temple and paying tribute to ‘Chandi Devi’, I took a different route to go down. I took a root which was leading somewhere but not many were going from there. It was leading to the edge of the cliff of the suicide point!! One step here and there, I would have died.
This was the moment of my trip. I could feel the cool breeze when the sun was blazing at my head. I could see the river getting divided into various tributaries. I wanted that moment to never end. I had enough time to stand there alone for an hour before thinking about anything else. It was sheer pleasure to stand at that point and see the town like that.
Unfortunately, I knew I had to go down to head towards my next destination. However, while walking I realised that I can still not go home as there is ‘Ganga Aarti’ in the evening (Ganga Aarti is performed every day at ‘Har Ki Pauri’ with same fervour). Thousands of people visit the place daily just to attend the aarti.
It was 4 PM and I decided to sleep at one the ghats (remember I didn’t book the room). I took out my towel and slept on it and I knew not when it was 6. After taking that long power nap, I felt afresh and this time I knew where exactly I had to go next – Har ki Pauri.
While I reached my destination, I could feel that devotees gathered around for the aarti were huge in numbers, close to a lakh. Later, I found out that it was the Purushottam Maas – 13th Month – of the Hindu calendar which comes once in every 3 years.
I could hardly find a place to sit. The place was flooded by devotees. Ohh boy! When it all started, I felt real bliss. The experience of that Aarti is inexplicable. I could feel goosebumps. One of India’s leading singer Anuradha Padwal’s voice could be heard from every corner. Pandits were following their usual routine with their huge Jyoti pandals in their hand. The flames of the ‘Jyot’, I felt, was burning all the bad energy and thoughts in my mind.
Ahh! I loved it. It felt as if the mission of travelling on a random journey and enjoying it has been successfully accomplished.