It was a long awaited trip. By long, I mean 9 years.It is true.I read this beautiful novel on a man’s journey to Haridwar and fell in love with it. In my mind it was a divine and spiritual place smelled like sandalwood, kumkum and agarbathis. In my mind, I had a view of the temple from far down the mountain from where it looked like a small red tree. In my head, I drew the picture of Sadhus on both sides of the hundreds of steps to temple. And in my ears I could hear the bells ringing continuously.
But Haridwar was different. I could finally visit my dream land recently and I was devastated. I was confused, whether it was all the imagination of the writer or whether Haridwar really did look that way before. The Haridwar I saw was nothing but a half spiritual half tourist place. And the half spirituality is what the travelers carry.
It still carries on all the rituals, only with a few changes. There were still those hundred steps to temple but now there is a rope way too, which will help you get to temple in few minutes. There is still that tree with the red twines but its now covered and unable to spot because they are preserving it. There is still Pooja and Poojari in temple but the first thing he point you before starting the prayer is to put some money in his plate.
Despite of all the disappointments, the is one thing I loved the most is the evening Aarthi or Pooja. It was an amazing view and feel. Thousands of people witness it everyday. If you pay a some pocket money, you can even get the front seat to watch the Pooja. (Because everything runs on money here)
But I don’t care. I don’t believe in God neither I believe in Hinduism but still that Pooja gave me a special feel which I want to call peace of mind. May be its the song, the smoke or the fragrance of sandal and kumkum….but whatever it was, I would like to memorize only that moment when I hear the name Haridwar. Because I just cant hate that place. I cant hate my dream. I cant hate my favorite writers imagination.
Before we left, we sat down there in front of our hotel, legs socked in Ganga and decided not to change the picture of Haridwar we had in mind, with what we actually saw. I realized a little truth – Haridwar is not a place where you go to find your soul. It’s that part of your soul that you think is missing. It is that one thought that tells you – you are here, you have everything. Haridwar is a feeling, its a state of mind, its a part of your soul.
I still have that book with me. I still love it.