Saturday, December 26, 2015

Delhi-Agra-Jaipur - Part IV (Haridwar & Rishikesh)

On the second week, my coursemate and I would have a field trip outside Delhi for four days. Yes, it was the time for us to go out and see real things after spending two weeks in the institute, attending lectures and doing some reading. Life could be a bit mundane and monotonous, katanya lah. 
Flowers of TERI

It was planned for us to visit an area with higher elevation,lower than Kashmir range but cold enough to wear winter's clothing. However the plan was changed to visit Haridwar and later to Rishikesh, two districts somewhere up north of Delhi. To me, I have seen Himalaya range sometime ago in Nepal so giving Mukteshewar a miss due to the latest arrangement was not a big deal.

So what Haridwar and Rishikesh can offer to a bunch of foreigners? I did not explore any further and preferred for anything that happen would be, pleasant and wonderful. Do not expect too much on a course's field trip. Layan jer senang.

I never see this style of clothing but it looks cool. simplicity.
Cars on the road. You can see most of the cars are compact and white. The middle income group is rising, so does the automotive sector. Good strategy however it may add more congestion to the traffic in future. Malaysia for example?
Kids selling flowers for prayers. It looks like a giant corn with striking yellow hues.

From my observation, Delhi has bigger and better road system connecting to the other satellite cities such as Gurgaon and Noaida. It later reach for another 100 kilometer to the outer zones outside the state, Haryana, three lane highway. So for the first two hour, the journey was pretty smooth until we took an exit from the main highway entering normal trunk road. The picture above shows the condition of a trunk road in the town, Haridwar. However it depends whether the city's location is in between two important areas such as industrial or agricultural zones, as long as it gives significant economic contribution to the country, the road tend to be bigger and better. Therefore not all places will have similar road condition like this example. 

Other than that, when the distance is 209 kilometers, do not expect the road to be like our PLUS Highway which you can do 100 km/h and reach within two hours time. It is like coming through the Bentong exit from Karak, passing Raub and Kuala Lipis on the way to Gua Musang or Kota Bharu which it takes longer time to reach your destination. And imagine since the festive season was around the corner, Diwali or Deepavali, many people traveled in buses and cars like those people from our own East Coast celebrating Hari Raya at their beloved kampung and hometown. Macam itu lah ceritanya. Sabar.

Lucky we managed to check into a nice hotel in Haridwar. I was glad that the back pain did not trigger during this journey. Perhaps the bus suspension was a perfect 10. :)

The hotel staff who live opposite the hotel. 
Look of the room. Photo credit goes to the hotel. Very comfortable. It is actually a budget hotel. What a standard they have compared to our own budget hotels. 

So the first thing that happened upon arrival and check-in process at the hotel, was of course the first site visit. Whoa, that must be something we need to see since it happens only at night, kan? Mr. Nitya, the tour leader requested us to be ready at 7.00 p.m sharp on the bus. Since the season was winter, maghrib time came early around 5.15 p.m so I had plenty of time to get shower, unpacked, have solat and the dinner. Gigih~!
We are heading to Haridwar Old City which is situated at the other side of Ganga river.
So any occasion or special event to happen at this hour? Yes, the group was about to observe a special ceremony called Ganga Aarti in Haridwar. More information can be found here.

Ganga Aarti is something new to me, kind of lucky to see this event either in Haridwar, Rishikesh or Varanasi River. Many people came to these places especially during the Diwali season to perform spiritual uplifting by offering a lit lamp, a small diya with a candle and flowers to be floated in the river. 

There are many families with members, old and young even children that makes this ceremony seems merry yet meaningful. Some of my Hindu friends performed the ritual by dipping their feet into the river, wash their face and had some prayers chanting. I asked one of the guy from Mauritius whether it was first time performing Ganga Aarti? He said yes and look very peaceful and content. I am not really a religious person but to have a chance like this when you are on a study trip was a blessing to these people. It makes you to be spiritually focused while to learn something for your work and expertise. Kalau kita dah panggil berkat la tu kan. macam sempat menunaikan umrah ketika bermusafir belajar. chewah. sapa tak mo kan?

So enjoy all the shots here since I am not really an expert to explain and Mr. Nitya too was somewhere to perform his Ganga Aarti during this time. We had ample time to observe and also some shopping in nearby town.

One of the devotees, I assume a priest asking for some donation.
Families at the river bank of Ganga, with Toe Ling my Myanmar friend capturing some photos.
While holding the offering, prayers were recited by a priest beside these two men.
Prayer flowers for devotees. Love how the leaves basket is made.
A beautiful sight of devotees coming to ferform Ganga Aarti.

Macam scene dalam citer hindustan plak. hahahahah.layan.
The river condition after Ganga Aarti was performed.

More devotees even it is approaching 10.30pm. I guess latecomers prefer less people to do their offering.
So I made my own way exploring the town, separating from the big group after the ceremony. Reason why? I need to have my own private moment to see things rather to stick the shopper's flock. If not, I tend to be cranky just to wait people finishing their bargaining. Not a shopper type. Terukkan. tapi takperlah, bila lagi nak menikmati suasana di sini, belum tentu nak datang lagi, sanggup? It was like being Kathmandu, Nepal only the street size is broader and cleaner. I guess being a holy city, cleanliness is one of the aspect to be a good follower..ehheheheh.
The old town is bustling with people selling all sort of thing. Food is not an exception.
 lively at night. Shops selling item are opened until 10pm. I like the LED decoration. something I did not find in home country.
In one of the alleys. People are closing their shop this time.

Vishnu God, in Black Marble carving.
The bridge connects people from the main road to the old town. Notice LED lights were used to brighten this town.
There are some hotels nearby for people to visit the Ganga River. Kind of convenient because everything is just within walking distance. 50 meter from the river. 
Surprisingly, there was a cafe just beside the river. A nice place to get cosy after a long winter's nite. Cafe Coffee Day, India's favourite coffee shop and hangout place. Similar concept to Starbucks chain. Their coffee is not really bad.
I had a hazelnut latte and cheese spinach sandwich. All vegetarian food offered here including cakes and brownies.
My first latte in India. punya lah kemut tak nak berbelanja kan. tak ingat harga berapa. belasah sebab sejuk terketar... Harus amik dan simpan shot ni.
Since we had ample time, photos taking of the group is a must. Friends in cheerful mood before they went shopping.
Ajay, my Mauritius friend with his just bought peacock feather. innocently I asked him what to do with the stuff? He said "decoration" .ahahah padan muka aku kan.

So we had a long night in Haridwar that day- the journey by the bus, the traffic congestion, the hotel check in and Ganga Aarti ceremony. Nak tercabut kepala lutut rasanya time ni. Time to wrap up things including checking other friends who were still goes missing at 10.30pm. 

It was getting freezing cold that time until Mr. Nitya made his comment, to other friends upon seeing me in "vibrating mode", 

"Jazmin hails from the land of tropics that is why you see her terribly shaking." 

Nah, amek ko. 
Sayonara & good night. Finally we headed to the bus, to meet our cosy bed waiting at the hotel. Yezza.
Till then.

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