Monthly Archives: September 2011

Madurai

MaduraiRameswaram-Kanyakumari (Dec 2009)  – Day 1

The Christmas weekend of 2009 yielded a long weekend. So we decided to put it to good use. However, we hadn’t planned in advance, and had originally planned to stay at home and relax. But, at the last minute, we decided to check if any tour packages were available. Since we’d gone to Ooty through a tour operator, and the deal he’d given us was decent, we decided to explore the same option.

We were pleasently surprised when we were told that tickets for this tour were available, and all booking will be done. Given that we decided on Tuesday to leave on Thursday, the ticket availability part was a welcome surprise.

We got a ticket in KSTRC’s Rajahamsa service that left Bangalore at around 9pm. The trip took around 9 hrs, and we reached Madurai at 6am.

The first thing that jarred us here was how money-centric everything was.  Even the auto-wallahs knew which agent to take us to. In fact, there was confusion over the address we gave, but that cleared when we gave the name of the agent we were to meet. In our previous travel through the agent, we were given all details prior to leaving Bangalore. In this case, we had to connect with the agent in Madurai for every detail.

The bus station is located outside the city, and the auto-wallah charged us Rs. 100/- to get to where we wanted to go. And no bargain. Its no use if we want to refuse one guy n bargain with another. You’re met with a blanket refusal. It doesnt matter who you talk to, they expect you to pay the same amount.

The agent was based in a small hotel within walking distance of the Meenakshi temple. In fact while entering into the city you can see the massive gopuram of the temple. A beautiful sight indeed.

The agent directed us to a nearby hotel called Hotel Palace. It was ok, nothing too fancy. The sheets and room were clean, and they delivered a nice coffee. What else did we need? 😉 The agent set us up for a city tour starting by about 9am. So we went back to the main road, where a mini-bus was waiting for us. Actually we were expecting the Meenakshi temple to be a part of the city tour. However, everything else was covered, except the temple.

A lot of time was spent in picking up all the other members of the bus tour. Finally at around 10am we reached the Thirumalai Nayakkar Palace. The palace is located about 1.2 kms from the Meenakshi Temple, and was meant to be a the most grand of palaces in South India. The architecture styles incorporated are Dravidian, Islamic and European.  It was a nice walk-though that we had here. The decorations on the high ceilings as well as the exquisite work in the main courtyard were beautiful, and we spent quite some time admiring them. the rest of the palace though did not seem to have as much attention. It seemed as the the focus was the main courtyard, and nothing else. The lighting was average, and the placement of the artifacts was not attractive to viewers.

Right opposite the palace is a series of small tiffin shops. We decided to have our breakfast here. The food was hot, and very tasty. The food was served in a plate over-laid with a plantain leaf. Once we finish eating, we have to put our own plate in the wash bucket, and dispose the plantain leaf ourselves. Service was efficient. Did I say the food was hot and tasty?

Next stop was the Alagar Koil (Koyil/Kovil) temple located about 21 km from the city. This is a Vishnu temple, dedicated to Lord Kallazhagar who appeared for Sage Suthapas. The temple was constructed by Thirumalai Nayakar, a Vaishnavait and dedicated devotee of Goddess Meenakshi, built the temple aimed at fostering amiable relations between Saivaites and Vaishnavaite. The location is also very scenic, with beautiful hills surrounding the temple.

The temple is a beautiful structure. The main entrance is however kept closed. One has to enter from the side entrance. Even the Utsava Murti (festive idol) of Lord Vishnu doesn’t pass through the main door. Once a year the Sudarshan Chakra, the wheel of Vishnu, alone passes through this door.

The darshan was a bit rushed, as the temple shuts at about 1pm, and we’d reached at around 12pm. On the way back we stopped at a small temple that had a huge image of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi Devi on top of it. It workmanship was beautiful. We spent a few minutes taking photos at this temple, and then made our way back to Madurai.

Along the whole route, the tour guide pointed out various landmarks in Madurai, namely the Gandhi Museum, and some other ‘landmarks” like the Police Headquarters etc.

The tour ended at around 1.30pm at the gates of the Meenakshi Temple. The tour guide showed us a hotel where they serve thalis and asked us to have lunch there. While all the others in the bus went straight in to have lunch, we opted to walk around n look for another place. Our walk took us around the temple to the main gate, and to the road in front of it. This was a truly bustling road where most shopping could be done, interspersed with eateries. We had lunch at a place called Meenakshi Bhavan. The food was good and hot. Ther service too was quite quick. The only delay was getting a seat, since the whole place was jam-packed. 🙂

Finally we made our way back to the hotel where we rested till about 4.30. The biggest advantage of this hotel was that it was walking distance from the temple. So we slowly made our way through the evening traffic to the temple.

The Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple of Meenakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to Lord Sundareshwar (Shiva) and his consort Meenakshi (Parvati).It is a huge temple complex spead over 45 acres. It has 14 gopurams, the largest being the South Gate at a height of 52mts. It is one of the few temples that have gates on all 4 directions.
The shrine of Shiva lies in the center of the complex. One would first visit Meenakshi Amma near the Eastern Gate, and from there proceed to see Lord Sundareshwar. On the way, just outside the shrine of Shiva,  is a large idol of Lord Ganesh carved from a single stone.

There is also a Silver Hall within the temple complex with a huge sculpture of Shiva in the Nataraja pose. However, this idol is different as Shiva has his right foot raised, unlike the normal left foot. Legend says that this was done on the request of Rajasekara Pandya, a devotee of Lord Shiva. He requested the Lord to change his position as keeping the same foot raised would put enormous stress on it.

West Gate entrance to Meenakshi Temple

We entered through the North Gate, and wound our way to the South Gate, from where we enter the main temple complex. The queue was huge and took us till almost 7.30 by the time we finished with the darshan and stepped out. As you step out of the main temple, you reach the 1000-pillar mandapam.

This mandapam has only 985 pillars (not 1000), and is famous for the musical pillars located near the entrance. Nowadays, this section is cordoned off. We were lucky as an old man decided to some of us tourists how the pillars sound but playing a short tune on them. But we were not allowed to touch them. Lesser known is that the stone idols leading up the main pathway, have their own musical abilities. If you put your ear to the shoulder of the idol, and strike the hand, you can hear a distinctly musical sound. But it is not audible out like the musical pillars.

There is also a small “museum” section in this hall. Nothing much to it, and nothing there really holds the interest.

Display in the Museum

We wound down finally, and stepped out of the massive temple complex. We had a light dinner at a nearby restaurant, and made our way back to the hotel, looking forward to the next day…

Categories: Madurai, Rameshwaram & Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jaipur

GurgaonJaipur – 1 day trip (Oct 2009)

This trip came in almost immediately after our HaridwarRishikesh trip. It so happened that the day after returning to Gurgaon happened to be Election Day. So all offices were shut down. So we made use of the opportunity to go to Jaipur.

We set off early in the morning , around 5.30am. The drive was uneventful, and we mostly slept in snatches through the entire journey. Unlike most road trips, the road-sides were not dotted with fields, but were mostly dry and arid. So it make for some un-awe-inspiring views…

By 9am we reached the outer limits of the city of Jaipur. The first place we passed by was the  Amber Palace. We however didnt stop here. The driver suggested that this being at the very outskirts of the city, it should be our last stop.

Entry into the main thoroughfare towards The City Palace

Our first stop was the Maharaja Sawai Mansingh Museum, The City Palace. We entered through the Virendra Pol (gate) which leads directly to the reception area.

Entry into the Palace

Plan of the palace

The first building we saw saw here was the Mubarak Mahal. Here the clothes of all the Maharaja’s past were put up. It was really beautiful. The embroidery and zardozi work on the garmets made them a visual treat.

One thing must be said here: no effort has been spared on the architecture and stone lattice work in the palace. Everywhere you look, there is something so beautiful to look at that you stop to gaze on it at least for a few moments..

We then stepped into the Diwan-i-Khas, the private audience hall of the Maharajas. The entrance is flanked with 2 huge silver urns. They were made by Maharaj Sawai Madho Singh II to hold the water from The Ganga during his trip to meet the Queen in England.

The Silver Urns

Entrance to the Diwan-i-Khas

Next stop was the Pitam Niwas Chowk. This is an open courtyard with 4 doorways, each one designed to represent a season: Peacock Gate representing Autumn, Lotus Gate showing Summer, Green Gate (also called Leheriya or waves) to show Spring, and the Rose Gate showing winter. From here we can see the private residences of the Jaipur Royal family.

Gaurded entrance to the inner palace

Pitam Nivas

Next was the  Baggi Khana, which was a collection of carriages, palenquins and European cabs modified as baggis.

Baggi Khana

The final stop was the Maharani’s palace, now the Sileh Khana or Armoury. Name the kind of hand-held weapon you want to see, and chances are high that you’ll find it here. Elaborate and beautiful, its a definite must-see.

Right next door to the Palace is the Jantar Mantar. The name literally translates to “Calculation Instruments”.

Jantar Mantar

The various interuments

The Conversions

The observatory consists of fourteen major geometric devices for measuring time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars’ location as the earth orbits around the sun, ascertaining the declinations of planets, and determining the celestial altitudes and related ephemerides. Each is a fixed and ‘focused’ tool. Built from local stone and marble, each instrument carries an astronomical scale, generally marked on the marble inner lining. Bronze tablets, all extraordinarily accurate, were also employed. Thoroughly restored in 1901, the Jantar Mantar was declared a national monument in 1948. An excursion through Jai Singh’s Jantar is a unique experience of walking through solid geometry and encountering a collective astronomical system designed to probe the heavens.

Roadside Shops near the Palace

The next stop was the Hawa Mahal. It is located on the main thoroughfare of Jaipur.All the shops on the raods around the Hawa Mahal are all in pink colour, and this is where Jaipur gets its moniker “Pink City”

wide roads and pink buildings

The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen, since they had to observe strict “purdah” (face cover). The exterior of the palace is covered with interice lattice work in honeycomb fashion, and also the reason the palace is very pleasant, as the lattice work allows a light breeze blow through the palace keeping it cool.

The entrance to Hawa Mahal

Banner about the history of the palace

View from the top of Hawa Mahal with a view of Jantar Mantar and the City Palace

View from the road

We wanted to shop in the markets on the main road. A gentleman stopped us on the road, and suggested we go to a shop which was run by the Maharani’s trust, and that it would have great stuff. He even called us a rickshaw and gave the guy directions for us to get there, and also bargained the price to take us there!! It was a nice experience, and not one that we come by often.

For lunch we stopped at a small restaurant on the way to Jal Mahal. Food was simple, and very tasty. nothing very great or fancy, but it was a pleasant stop.

Jal Mahal was the only disappointment in the whole trip. TGhe palace was going throough some renovations. That was ok, but the lake was left uncleaned. It was dirty, and definately stank. Not good.

Jal Mahal

The final stop of the day was Amber Palace.

Our driver here refused to take the car up the hill, saying the roads are not good, and they would spoil his car. So we had to hire a jeep to take us up. On the way however, we stopped at a small ancient temple. It was mid-noon, so the priest was not in, and the diety was behind closed doors. That didnt detract from the beauty of the temple though. It was a pleasant 15 mins that we spent there, esp after the disappointment of Jal Mahal.

Entrance of the temple

Detailed marble work on the base

Temple in the noon sun

Amber Fort, also called Amer Fort, is located on a hill about 11 km from Jaipur.
The fort is divided into four main sections each with its own entry gate and courtyard. Main entry is through the Suraj Pol (Sun Gate) which leads to Jaleb Chowk, which is the first main courtyard. An impressive stairway from the Jaleb Chowk leads into the main palace grounds.

Entry into the Palace from Jaleb Chowk

The second courtyard, up the main stairway of the first level courtyard, houses the Diwan-i-Am or the Public Audience Hall. Built with double row of columns, the Diwan-i-Am is a raised platform with 27 colonnades, each of which is mounted with elephant shaped capital with galleries above it. As the name suggests, the Raja held audience here to hear and receive petitions from the public.

The third courtyard is where the private quarters of the Maharaja, his family and attendants were built. This courtyard is entered through the Ganesh Pol or Ganesh Gate, which is embellished with mosaics and sculptures. The court yard has two buildings, one opposite to the other, separated by a garden laid in the fashion of the Mughal Gardens.

The building to the left of the entrance gate is called the Jai Mandir (Sheesh Mahal), which is exquisitely beautified with glass inlaid panels and multi-mirrored ceilings. The mirrors are of convex shape and designed with coloured foil and paint which would glitter bright under candle nights at the time it was in use.

Sheesh Mahal

The other building seen in the court yard is opposite to the Jai Mandir and is known as the Sukh Niwas or Sukh Mahal (Hall of Pleasure). This hall is approached through a sandalwood door with marble inlay work with perforations. A piped water supply flows through an open channel that runs through this edifice keeping the environs cool, as in an air conditioned environment.  In a previous visit, my husband and inlaws were able to go in and see these 2 buildings closely. Now however, it is closed off, and the public can view if from behind a barricade.

Sukh Nivas

A nice wallk-through the palace finally brought us to an end to our trip here at Jaipur. Memorable, short, and sweet!

 

Categories: Jaipur, Rajasthan, NCR & UP | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Haridwar and Rishikesh

GurgaonHaridwarRishikesh – 2 day trip (Oct 2009)

This was during one of the not-so-often sojourns to Gurgaon, where we also had a weekend off! 🙂

We decided to make the most of our time by planning a trip to somewhere close by. Since these were not the days of Metro in Gurgaon, we were not keen on following the train route to get anywhere in a hurry. So we had to zero down on a location that wasnt too far from Gurgaon, and could be easily reached by car.

Haridwar was about 4-5 hrs by car, and turned out as the ideal destination for that weekend. We had a basic plan in place i.e. reach Haridwar by noon, take a hotel for over-night stay, see Ganga Aarti and some temples and ashrams mentioned on a travel site, leave for Rishikesh next morning. Leave Rishikesh next evening and return to Gurgaon.
What we weren’t prepared for was the sheer beauty of this road trip. Miles and miles of beautiful fields stretching along the road. Sugar cane fields being harvested. In some places, jaggery being made, and a heavenly sweet smell filling the air.

Mohobbat Hotel anyone?

We started from Gurgaon at about 5am. At about 8am, the driver stopped for tea and breakfast at a small roadside “resort”. They took their sweet time to serve us parathas, but the wait was worth it.  The parathas were piping hot and were great to taste.

One the way to Haridwar, we got stuck in a traffic jam. The place seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, yet trucks and tractors were stopped on either side of the road, causing the jeeps and cars on the road to be stuck. Finally, we managed to get through, and found ourselves at the venue of a Buffalo Mela (fair). Apparently, all the buffaloes in the region were brought here for this occasion. It was definitely a sight!!!

Traffic Jam

The Buffalo Mela

We reached Haridwar at around 12pm. We thought of going for a dip in the Ganga right away, but the Ganga had been re-driected to build more ghats in preparation for the Maha-Kumbh Mela in 2010. The place for taking a dip was some place away, and the heat was not very conducive to going looking around at the time. So we took a room at Hotel Raghunath at Khankhal. One good thing i noticed here was the level of security required to take a room. We were asked to show our PAN card, and submit a copy of the same. It did not matter that this was a small hotel with hardly aboout a dozen rooms. What mattered was the security…

We decided to go exploring around Haridwar, and see the famous Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi temples. We also had a list of most temples and important ashrams that needed to be visited. As we walking on the bridge spanning the ghats, it felt desolate as the Ganga had been redirected, and only a minor trickle was left to flow through the original path.

We walked through the bustling market and reached the Mansa Devi temple. To get darshan, one can opt to go up the temple via ropeway. A lot of people prefer to wlak up the hill for darshan. Also there are packages available. You can visit only Mansa Devi, or combine with a visit to Chandi Devi as well as transport from Mansa Devi to Chandi Devi. As both temples are on top of hills, both include going by ropeway.

Mansa Devi temple is an important Siddha Peetha, a temple where one’s wishes come true. The other 2 Siddha Peethas in Haridwar are the CHandi Devi temple and Maya Devi temple. The godess is offered coconuts, incense sticks, and garlands. The Devi is said to be the sister/consort (differs depending where you read about it) of Vasuki, the Serpent God. There are 2 idols of Mansa Devi within the temple.  One idol has 8 arms and the other has 5 arms and 3 heads. Both are placed in the center and worshiped equally. Next it the main shrine is a tree, to which devotee tie a thread while making a wish. When this wish has been fulfilled, they come back and untie the thread.

View from 'Mansa' Devi temple

Once we came down from this temple, we had to wait for about 15-20 mins for the next shuttle to Chandi Devi. The drive till the hill is across the Ganga (even the re-directed one). So it is truly scenic drive. There are 2 temples on the hill. The main one is Chandi Devi. Slightly away is the temple of Anjani Devi (mother of Lord Hanuman) and Santoshi Mata. Most of the temple was under renovation, so we did not get a chance to see most of it.

View from Chandi Devi temple

Once we were done with all the darshans, we decided to have a salad of some fruits and vegetables being sold at the gates. Well, they called it a fruit salad, but since there were vegetables (beet and cucumber) also, can it be called that? Also it was 4pm, and i hadn’t had anything since breakfast.

Anywayz, we made our way to the next stop on our list the Maya Devi Mandir. The turn-off to this temple is lies between 2 old buildings, and we wondered where we would be able to park our car. Only to find that there is a large courtyard hidden from view, and a whole lot of buses carrying tourists parked there! The temple itself is unassuming.  The goddess Maya is flanked with idols of Goddess Kamakhyaon the right  & Goddess Kali on the right. Maya Devi is also the Adhisthatri of Haridwar (presiding deity).

By this time it was already 5.30pm and we needed to get to Har-Ki-Pauri, the venue of the Ganga Aarti every evening. This is supposed to be the precise place where the Ganga leaves the mountains and enters the plains. The ghats here are called the Bramhakund, and is also the site of the Ganga Devi temples. We reached by around 6pm, and opted to sit on the banks facing the temples and Aarti site. This got us a very good view of the Aarti itself. However, the best places were already taken by the time we got there, and we had to make do with what we got. 🙂

Getting ready for the Aarti

The aarti itself was a great experience. The chanting is done by the priests, and is heard through loudspeakers placed at strategic intervals across the banks. Once it was done, we went into the market and had dinner (paratha;s yet again). Also I’d found out that my maternal grandmother and uncle had come to haridwar on a visit that very day. So we went across to the ashram where she was staying near the BhimGoda Tank. BhimGoda tank is said to be the place where the Pandavas had stopped for a rest during their exile. Bhim had struck his knee (goda) into the ground to draw fresh water for his brothers and wife.It was a nice visit, and by the time we returned to our room it was 9pm.

The next morning we left our room at 7.30am, and went to the Ganga banks. It was a steep climb through stones, and was not the most comfortable thing i’ve done. The river was COLD, and i shivered through the 3 dips. Of course, i cheated a bit, and just put 3 splashes on my head. This itself got me the shivers. Hubby didnt agree with me, and i was carted back into the river for the proper dips. Shelters were raised around the site for women to change their clothes. You can use them for a nominal cost of Rs.2/-. The men changed clothes right there on the banks.

We got back to the hotel soon after, and after a proper bath, left with our luggage by 8.45.

Our first stop of the day was the Daksh Mahadev temple. It is said to be the site of Sati’s immolation in the pyre at King Daksha’s yagna. At the entrance is an imposing idol of Shiva holding a limp Sati in his arms, face creased with anger. Its is very awe-inspiring. There is also a yagnakund that is kept covered with a cloth to signify the immolation of Sati.

Daksh Mahadev Temple

The next stop was the Parad Shivling temple. The shivling in this temple is made of parad or mercury. the scientific abilities of india’s past keep surprising us, since mercury is not a solid element, and it had been solidified to form this shivling centuries ago. Also is the fact that the shivling required the room temperature to be somewhat lower than the outside temperature, and this was achieved without the help of airconditions, only amazing and simple-to-look-at architecture. There is also a rudraksh tree in this ashram, and they are sold at a low cost.

Parad Shivling

Mrutyunjaya Temple in the Parad Shivling complex

Our next 2 stops were the Bharat Mata temple and the Sapt Rishi ashram. The Bharat Mata temple has various levels, each signifying an important aspect of India’s past, and culture. The topmost level has the idole of Bharat Mata and a map of india on the floor in front of her.

Bharat Mata Mandir

The Sapt Rishi ashram is dedicated to the 7 great Rishis: Kashyapa, Vashishth, Atri, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaj & Gautam. It is said that they had meditated here. Also, the Ganga has split into 7 currents at this location.

Statue of Shiva at the entrance of Har-ki-Pauri

By the time we were done, it was 11.30am, and we set out for Rishikesh.

It is a short drive from Haridwar to Rishikesh, and we were at the Ram Jhula by 12.30pm. The car stopped on the main road, and we had to come down a 4  flights of steps to reach the bridge.

View of Ganga from Ram Jhula

Ram Jhula

Ram Jhula, also known as Shivanand Jhula, is a suspension bridge, and is situated about 9kms from Rishikesh. Alongside the bridge is the bathing ghat, and on the other end of the bridge are the various ashrams and the Triveni Ghat, where the Ganga Aarti is performed every evening.

There are quite a few ashrams to explore here. The first one is the Geeta Bhavan, which features scenes from the Geeta, and also alsoside it are cloth shops and ayurvedic medicine shops run by the Gita Press and associated organizations. Walking ahead we came to the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, another old time ashram here. Further up ahead, we pass through shops that sell clothes, spiritual books, spiritual music, silver jewellery and even internet cafes.

Gita Bhavan

After this we come to Parmarth Niketan. This is by far one of the most beautiful ashrams that I have seen. Many temples donated by various people across the country are built within the campus. It is also a vedic school, home to many kids of various ages who stay here.

Facing the ashram, to the riverside, is a beautiful structure, also called Parmath, where the Aarti to Ganga is performed everyday. We dipped our feet into the river. The currents are very strong here, so there are steel chains lined along the steps in the river, to help people stay close to the steps, and not get dragged away by the river. On a platform built over the river sits a beautiful white idol of Shiva in padmasan pose seated on a tiger skin.

Entrance of Parmarth

Idol of Lord Shiva at Parmarth

View of Parmarth Niketan (Ashram) entrance

By the time we spent some time here, it was close to 1pm, and we decided to have lunch at the famous Chotiwala restaurant. There are 2 of these side-by-side, and it is difficult to figure out which one is the original. The food, however, lives upto its reputation. Out the restaurant/s is a bald man seated on a high platform with the full make-up of the Chotiwala idol and they pose for photos too! 🙂 There was also a guy sitting nearby who was ready to put mehendi on both hands for an amazingly low cost of Rs. 50/-. I, of course, jumped at the chance to get it done. 🙂

Chotiwala Restaurant

Chotiwala Restaurant

Walking further ahead, we decided to go to Lakshman Jhula which is about 2-3 kms from this location. However, for people not used to walking long distances on hilly terrain, you can go by share-jeeps. Approximately this costs about Rs. 20/- per person.

Lakshman Jhula is a a 450-ft long suspension bridge, the first jeepable one of its kind. It was built in 1927-28, and was open to traffic from 1930.

View of Lakshman Jhula from Tryambakeshwar Temple

Next to it was the Tryambakeshwar Mahadev temple which had 12 floors. Each of the floors is adorned with idols of Shiv and his consort in various forms. In fact, inspite of the fact that we keep climbing the stairs, we dont really feel tired. The exhaustion starts as soon as we get down though! 😉

Tryambakeshwar Temple

Rishikesh is the Yoga center of India. Everywhere you look around, there are yoga centers. Also, compared to Haridwar, there are a lot more foriegnerrs here, mostly to learn yoga. But a lot of them have settled down in Rishikesh. Another major attraction of Rishikesh is adventure sports and white-water rafting. These have gained immense popularity, and the rafting season extends from March to July.

Shiva Shakti Pizza anyone?

We decided to recharge ourselves at the Coffee Day located a few meters away. We then returned to Parmarth Niketan for the Aarti. Even though we reached around 5.15pm, we were one of the first people to sit down. So we could get a good seat on the steps. Slowly the place filled up, but the center space was kept free. Then the students from Parmarth Niketan, all boys decked out in traditional attire, filed in sat down in neat rows around as yagnakund placed in front of the idol of Shiva on the platform. At about 5.40, the yagnakund was lit, and all the kids started their chants. It was amazing to hear them. As the evening progressed and darkness fell, the statue of Shiva was lit with strategically placed lights. Unlike Haridwar, the music played by the kids was not from a music system, but from music instruments that were brought to the venue and played by kids.

Children from parmarth Niketan taking their places for Aarti

The aarti songs were quite beautiful, and most of the people who knew the lyrics sang with the children. The main Aartis were lit soon enough, and the aarti to Ganga started in earnest. Soon, plates of diyas were lit, and passed around in the crowd. This was great since it would mean that we also get to do the aarti ourselves also, and not just be spectator. Most of us kept the plates for a few minutes and then passed it on the the next person. The aarti finished by 7pm, and it was a hhuge crush to get out of there. We were in a great hurry, as we planned to return to Gurgaon that night itself.

So it was quite the experience to rush through the crowds, across the Ram Jhula ,and up the 4 flights of steps to the road and hop into the car. 🙂

On the way back, we stopped at a road-side dhaba at around 10pm. The food was the only avoidable experience in the whole trip. But at least it was hot. So small mercies!

We got back to Gurgaon at about 2am, tired but very happy.

Categories: Haridwar & Rishikesh, Uttarakhand | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment