BM # 56
Week : 5 , Day: 3
Theme: Blogger's Choice
Today for the last day of this marathon I will take you to Haridwar , a city in Uttarkhand. This was not the first time I was visiting this city, my sister in law lives there and so we have been visiting it since a long time.
Let me tell you a little about this paradise of nature lovers.
In Sanskrit, Hara means "Lord Shiva" and Dwara means "gate" or "gateway"Hence, Hardwar stands for "Gateway to Lord Shiva". Hardwar has been a typical place to start a pilgrim's journey in order to reach Mount Kailash, the eternal abode of Lord Shiva, Kedarnath, the northernmost Jyotirlinga and one of the sites of the smaller Char Dham pilgrimage circuit and Gaumukh, the source of River Ganga. Har ki Pauri or footsteps of Lord Shiva is considered the most sacred site in Hardwar. Mind you a dip in the river is considered very auspicious.
Pooja being performed at Har ki Pauri
Something that is not well known today to Indians and probably to those settled abroad, in an ancient custom detailed family genealogies of Hindu families for the past several generations are kept by professional Hindu Brahmins popularly known as Pandas, at the Hindu holy city of Haridwar in hand written registers passed down to them over generations by their Brahmin ancestors which are classified according to original districts and villages of ones ancestors, with special designated Brahmin families being in charge of designated district registers, even for cases where ancestral districts and villages that have been left behind in Pakistan after Partition of India with Hindus having to migrate to India. In several cases present day decedents are now Sikhs and many maybe Muslims or even Christians. It is common for one to find details of up to, or even more than, ones seven past generations in these genealogy registers kept by the Pandas of Haridwar. On our recent trips to Haridwar I was very keen to see this register and my hubby made sure I saw it.
Here is a glimpse of it where my son has signed way back in 2008 when my BIL passed away.
A visiting family member is required to personally sign the family genealogical register furnished by ones Family Panda after updating it for future family visitors and generations to see and to authenticate the updated entries.
The most sacred ghat within Har Ki Pauri is Brahmakund. The evening prayer (Aarti) at dusk offered to Goddess Ganga at Har Ki Pauri . Har refers to God and Pauri refers to steps .this is an enchanting experience for any visitor. While walking to the ghats you see many of these small time food joints, where they cook in bulk and the poor are fed. The vendors try to convince the passer by to feed the poor , the food quality is of course very poor and it is a sad sight to see beggars and poor people in that state.
On reaching the ghats one has to find a suitable place to sit and wait for the aarti.
About 21 Brahmins line up to recite shaloks for the Ganga Pooja
Playing Holi with Gangaji.
Aarti preps going on
The lamps are really hot so they need to be holded with a thick wet towel
The complete Brahmkund is surrounded by priests doing the Aarti
The main city has narrow lanes and a bustling market, which has shops lined on either side. Most of the shops sell religion related stuff and knick knacks. I was not very keen on buying things but keen on exploring the shops which sold mouthwatering food. Incidentally this city has only vegetarian cuisine.
I cannot forget the taste of the Poori chola sold at Mohans , every time we have visited this city we made sure we ate these. Like a ritual after the aarti we gorged on these Poori chola with Aaloo sabzi. This is a complete treat and the taste is absolutely mind blowing. The market is lined up with these chola Poori walas but nothing can beat Mohans . They also sell Halwa , gulab jamuns and malpuas. This was our day 1 experience , and I was eagerly waiting for The next day to try more stuff.
Next day my cousin took me to the market and I did some prop shopping. On the way we saw freshly baked Indian Cookies flavored with cardamon. Yes you guessed right, nankhatais. The vendor had a custom made oven where he had a tray on which he placed these little bites to be baked. This was one of the most rustic ovens I had ever seen and the cookies were warm delicious , melt in the mouth kinds, after buying a small pack of these we headed to a famous Bhagwati Chole Bhature wala . Chola Bhatura is a very very common dish , but tell me how many of you have heard of Tari? Tari is like a soup. The chola is boiled and the water in which they are boiled is reserved. This water is then tempered and served as Tari along with Chole Bhature. This was absolutely new for me and I thoroughly enjoyed this soup.
Haridwar is also very famous for its chaats. Right outside my sis in laws hotel we have two Chaat vendors. One sells fruit Chaat and the other sells burgers. The Chaat is quite common but the burger was very interesting. It had a bun, a patty and then chutneys and even curd. A true desi burger. Which was delicious to the core.
Ok let's take a break from food and let me tell you that Haridwar is also one of the four places; where Kumbh Mela occurs after rotation of every twelve years and Ardh Kumbh after every six years. It is said that drops of Amrit (Elixir) fell in to the Brahmkund of Har-Ki-Pauri, therefore considered that a dip in the Brahmakund on this particular day which is very auspicious and when Jupiter (Brahaspati) comes to the sign Aquarius (Kumbh) once in every twelve years the Maha Kumbh fair is celebrated at Haridwar. The last time the Kumbh was held we visited this fair and here are some glimpses of it.
Beyond the mystic aura and mythology, Haridwar casts a magic spell on the visitor.
I would have loved to stay on in this place and gorged on some more famous food available there, but what we had to head ahead towards the hills and so the trip to this holy city came to an end...but before I end let me give you just one more place to explore while you are in that city.
Hoshiarpuri Restaurant , which is very famous for its Parathas and I love it's Kadhi Chawal, Baingan ka Bhartha and Raajma Chawal.
I cannot end this post without thanking my 12 year old niece, Tanya who made special Shahi Paneer for me , since she knew she had a blogger aunt who would be really pleased by this gesture. I have to admit this was one of the best Shahi Paneers I have had till date! A cook in making Tanya, great job and Thanks dear !
With this post we come to the month long Buffet on the Table!, hope you enjoyed what I served you.
For me with every Mega Marathon, its a real learning process and I enjoy it thoroughly.
My humble Thanks to Valli for organizing these and of course a big word of thanks to all my fellow blogger friends and viewers.
Do come back for a recap soon , and of course we shall begin our regular marathons from the first week of October, just the way they are normally scheduled.