We decided to go to Rishikesh for Diwali and to see the Ganges, except the only problem was we didn’t have enough time. The closest we could get was Haridwar, and upon reading that it was the much more spiritually significant than Rishikesh, and it was the beginning of the Ganges, it sounded a good option.

A 6 hour bus ride from hell, a 32 degree day, and a friend with an upset stomach, was far from desirable.

I rounded up the other two westerners in town and we sussed a private car.

Chandigarh - Haridwar, Private Car

Apart from the guy thinking he was Nigel Mansel, going a hundred miles an hour, last minute dodging rickshaws, cows, small children, the trip was pretty enjoyable.

Chandigarh - Haridwar, Private Car

Chandigarh - Haridwar, Private Car

Chandigarh - Haridwar, Private Car

Sadly (but not surprisingly), Haridwar was another let down and nothing like it read up.
We stayed at a place with ‘the best restaurant in town’ attached, and the waiter looked at us puzzled when we inquired about espresso not nescafe.

Haridwar, India - View

Haridwar, India - Rooftop

Haridwar, India - Sunset

The town was peaking though and everyone was siked for Diwali (basically the Indian version of Christmas), night fell and we too were looking forward to seeing the celebration along the Ganges.

Haridwar, India - Rooftop, Paula Birch

Haridwar, India - Dewali

I had a vision of being at the foot of a huge flowing river, people lined along the edge, sending out floating red butter candles, but when we arrived, the shitty dried-up river bed that I joked about during the day WAS the actual Ganges, and there wasn’t a floating butter candle to be seen.
Disappointed but laughing, we headed back and tried to sleep through a night of non-stop random firecrackers.

By morning, we were itching to leave and at the train station with plenty of time to spare.

Haridwar, India - Train Station

Haridwar - Delhi, Train

Ms. Paula Birch
Ms. Paula Birch - Mamiya

Precariously balanced
Haridwar - Delhi, Train

Haridwar - Delhi, Train

Thanks Haridwar, though I doubt I’ll ever come again.

8 Responses to “Haridwar”

  1. 3 mart mart October 29, 2009 at 10:24 am

    You should hit up Polyester about stocking the Sooks guide to travelling.

  2. 4 D Goyal November 4, 2009 at 2:36 am

    During period of your visit, flow of Ganges was diverted to clean it and to create new bridges for a MAJOR event next year that is held every 12 years. You should have explicitly asked someone if this is right time to visit Haridwar. I was planning to visit during same period but was advised that Ganges will be dry.

  3. 5 D Goyal November 4, 2009 at 2:39 am

    PS: Rishikesh is only 25 KM (18 miles) upriver from Haridwar. You would have seen Ganges in its full flow. Diversion happens between Rishikesh and Haridwar.

  4. 6 Bijoy December 10, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Enjoyed your travelogue and saw Haridwar again through very un-Indian eyes. I pass Haridwar twice on my journeys to various parts of the Himalayas and each time I experience a different emotion. On the way up, it is usually the feeling that I am only a few hours away from the mountains. And on the way down, it is the dejection of having to return from the still-pristine parts of India. You must get hold of Stephen Alter’s ‘Sacred Waters: A Pilgrimage to the Many Sources of the Ganga (http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Waters-Pilgrimage-Ganges-Culture/dp/0151005850) to vicariously experience a journey to that great river’s many sources.

    My recently published travelogue is at http://thegreenogre.blogspot.com, if you are interested.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  5. 7 Janit January 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I see you didnt enjoy it much. But Rishikesh I believe is a much better town for westerners. You can do some white water rafting, rapelling and other physical activities there, besides the ashramas and the multitude of westerners might help make a better visit.

  6. 8 Dilshad May 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Name:Joa and DamiraComments:We have been travelling with Dilshad for one week through Rajasthan,
    which was the best we could have done to experience India!

    Right from the start, Dilshad treated us more like guests and friends
    than clients. In contrary to other guides, he does not just go routinely
    through the program (we talked to other travellers on the way), but
    shows a lot of interest in his guests, other cultures and opinions. To
    make a long story short: He loves his job.

    Dilshad is very empathetic, he anticipates someone’s every wish and
    supports with any sort of problem. Doctor, medication or special
    requests – he always took best care of us.

    Even so this was mentioned often in the guestbook, I can’t help to
    repeat it: Dilshad’s safe driving, perfect planning and great
    accommodation make him a perfekt driver and travelguide. Thank you

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