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Published: February 12th 2010
This was pure luck this photo. We were not allowed to take any pictures at the festival so the camera was in my hand at my waist and 'click'
First of we are very lucky to have made it to Haridwar, we take back all the bad things we have said about the train system and that it is NEVER on time. For once it worked in our advantage 😊 We had booked tickets a few weeks ago to go to Haridwar for the Kumba Mella festival but we were on the waiting list right up to the last night, but lucky for us we were the previous night at the function for the CEO of trains for northern India (see previous blog) and we used our charm and next thing we knew we had tickets to Haridwar and even upgraded.
Why we were so grateful that the trains we late, I didn’t realise that they put us on a complete new train and it was very lucky that Diana checked. A quick summary of what happened, our new train was at 6.30pm (originally 9.30pm) Diana checked the ticket at exactly 6.20pm and we were still at our hostel and 30 minutes away from the station. We had given up hope of Haridwar, and then we remembered we are in India and trains are always late so rushed there
40 minutes late and still had 5 minutes up our sleeve to find out carriage and get some food, thank you not on time trains!!
So to Haridwar, people, people and more people. Festival time in India is a big event and the Kumba Mella Festival is no exception. The pilgrimage occurs four times every twelve years, once at each of the four locations. All people heading to the Ganges to have a holy dip. Each twelve-year cycle includes the Maha (great) Kumbha Mela at Allabad, attended by 100 million people, making it the largest pilgrimage gathering around the world, what a party. The one we were at was a little less scale down with 17 million attending. Our bathing date was called the Magh Purnima Snan - Fourth Snan and the big one for this year is on the 14th April and is called Baisakhi - Pramukh Shahi Snan (translation: Main Royal Bath).
So it is pretty much chaos everywhere you look but seeing so many people in such a small area is amazing. Haridwar is not a big city by all means and this Ganges here is running quite fast, Haridwar is quite north, so they
have chain hanging of bridges, the side of river banks just in case someone falls in they can grab onto something before going too far down the river.
It was an amazing experience though and we both enjoyed seeing the people follow their beliefs and the joy they feel when entering the river, even at 1,2, 3 and 4am in that water that has just come from melting glaciers! It was freezing!
This is a link for all information about the festival, it is worth the effort to go and have a look (if you don’t mind crowds) The main photo of this blog was taken, if you look at the link and the top photo, on the left hand side just below the ramp looking across the Ganger river to the crowd. You can get an idea of what it is like..
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