Google Map view of New Delhi - Dehradun Shatabdi Express Route (Click image to enlarge)
Warm item of breakfast at Executive Class on the Shatabdi Express (Click image to enlarge)
Hotel Ganga Lahari from across the river (Click to enlarge)
Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India,
15-16 November 2014.
Holiest of holy destination for Hindus, bathed by the mighty Ganges (Ganga). After a 250 km oumultuous run through the Himalayas, the river emerges into the plains 20 kms upstream. Haridwar guarantees an intimate glimpse imto 2,500 year old Hindu tradition and culture.
Haridwar, amongst the holiest of Hindu pilgrimages. The profusion of temples and shrines, crush of pilgrims and devotees, the priests (pandas) badgering you to broker a sweet deal with the God of your choice, all of that might be a tad overwhelming. But rise a bit above that and it's a sensuous experience of round-the-clock vibrancy, the holy waters of the swift Ganges, serpentine lanes crammed with shops stocked with amazing arts and crafts, bazars entirely to spices or lip smacking pickles, awesome vegetarian fare, all set against the backdrop of the scenic Himalayan foothills.
Its an ambience to be experienced with all your senses. Take your time, amble along the tourist friendly lanes, sit by the riverside and watch the world go by. Ignore the beggars. Try out any of the laddus, halwas, kachauris, samosas etc as long as its hot our of the woks. But beware of pickpockets. By all means do immerse yourself in the ebb and flow of life around you but not so much to lose sight of personal possessions!
We started off from New Delhi Railway Station at 6.45 am on the New Delhi – Dehradun Shatabdi Express. Executive Class has 2+2 seating with very wide seats and lots of leg space. Economy Class (or simply Chair Car) has 3+2 seating with slightly narrower seats with lesser leg space. But it is still pretty comfortable, certainly better than the best Economy seating on any aircraft.
We were welcomed aboard with a bottle of mineral water and the morning’s newspaper. We rolled through the sprawling outskirts of Delhi at a reserved pace. Quiet temperature controlled interiors, stable ride, no jolts and bumps. After leaving Ghaziabad at around 7.30 am we were served tea, coffee and biscuits. Urbanisation of the ever expanding Delhi kept us company on the brisk run to Meerut. Disappointed that the greenery has been replaced with concrete. Distressed at times with the huge garbage dumps on railway land. Seemed like locals take full advantage of the Railway Authority's non-chalance to dump garbage by the track side.
After pulling out of Meerut at about 8.30 am, they served a hot breakfast. Cornflakes with hot or cold milk. Bread, butter, jam, omlette, a few pre-fried frozen finger chips with sauted peas, yoghurt, tea and coffee. With breakfast the world outside the windows changed as well. The urbanization gradually gave way to extensive farmlands and then scattered forests and streams. After a comfortable 4 1/2 hours we disembarked at Haridwar Station.
We were booked at the Ganga Lahari. I would rate this amongst the best hotels at Haridwar. You can find my review at of the hotel here. We were picked up by the hotel’s Rickshaws. Wide seats and well sprung suspensions. The most comfortable Rickshaw I have ever ridden on. 10 minute ride on the crowded and chaotic high street of Haridwar and then another 10 minutes through the amazing Moti Market, to the hotel right on the Ganges, at Dhobi Ghat, at the southern end of the Har-ki-Pauri.
Cold items of breakfast at Executive Class on the Shatabdi Express (Click to enlarge)
Rickshaw sent by hotel to pick us up (Click to enlarge)
Executive Class on the Shatabdi Express (Click image to enlarge)