the Maha Kumbh Mela happens at Haridwar and we are here for it. The Ganga Aarthi ceremony yesterday the the Hari ki pairi (Vishnu's foot print) ghat was a celebration of the faith of thousands silently harnessed by flames paying homage to the river. It really seemed to me an amazing system of organization till when the aarthi was over and all he pilgrims fought and pushed to be blessed by the flames. We just stood there in the corner trying to get photos and waited for the stampede of sorts to subside.
From Varanasi we had to make a stop at Delhi because we didn't get direct tickets to Haridwar so I had to willingly suspend disgust during the 15 hour delayed journey on the filthy train to Delhi, I drowned out the smell of sweat and raw onion with mushy hindi songs on my ipod. Despite how snobbish I sound in that sentence, I am actually comfortably in love with travelling Sleeper Class nowadays. Also , when I was a child, I did that a LOT when Indian railways had green berths and yellow lights.
We reached Delhi looking like tramps and waltzed into the Saravana Bhavan at CP. After 40 days, of endless aloo gobi and roti, I had a sublimely spiritual exprience eating idly sambar and drinking the heavenly filter coffee.
Ok back to Haridwar now..the Ganga here is cold, fast flowing and much cleaner than at Varanasi where it is thick , tepid and shining with fecal possibilities.The moment we arrived at the main ghat, a man in a white kurta and pyjama with kumkum on his forehead approached us with a lecture on the significance of the ghat. We were at the spot where amrut accidentally spilled into the water and was the holiest spot in haridwar, according to him. While I am always open to trapping free information , this guy started telling Marie that she should learn something instead of taking pictures and acting like a foriegner. By this he meant , we should pay him to do a ganga puja for us.
We had been there five minutes and had already met someone Lonely Planet warned us about. Anyway, we just ignored him and went to a quiet corner where there were no pilgrims and dipped our feet in the icy refreshing water.