Haridwar, the Ganges, and the Kumbh Mela
Haridwar's claim to fame is the fact that it is one of the four Indian cities included in the river crossings of the massive Kumbh Mela festival. This Hindu religious rite takes place every twelve years: the central aspect is for the visiting pilgrims to walk through the waters of the Ganges river. Literally millions of people show up for the event. Getting them all up to, through, and out of the river is a logistical nightmare that has taxed the patience of the city's administration for decades. Solely for this event, huge walkways, gates, and dams have been built around the Ganges in Haridwar.
Let the locals bathe
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I left Panipat for a 3-hr drive to Haridwar (translating into ‘God’s Gate’). This is a famous holy city for the Indians, straddling the Ganges River at the base of the Himalayan foothills. Everyday, thousands of people (at a minimum) make the religious pilgrimage to bathe in the holy river. Upon both sunrise and sunset, there is a 15-min ceremony at the Hindu shrine on its banks. I’m not sure how people manage to oversee it, but this clean, holy river which waters are used to bathe, wash and cook with, is not actually clean. The crowded sidewalks and river banks are busy with beggars, stray animals, mindlessly wandering cows, trash and waste (of all origins). All of which goes into the water. But nonetheless it is amazing to see how transformed these people’s attitudes are after submerging in the waters.
Next stop after Haridwar was the Mountain Station of Mussoorie.