In transit: Haridwar and the train onwards

We came to Haridwar for a quick stop in transit to our next destination. It is another city on the Ganges River with lots of Hindus coming to bathe in the holy waters and offer lighted leaf and flower baskets into the currents.

During our short stay in Haridwar, we were warmly welcomed at the Haveli Hari Ganga hotel, a beautiful place to relax on the river, watch children fly kites, and grab dinner. 

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As the sun set, we made our way to the Har-ki-Pairi ghat, a place very sacred to the Hindus where Vishnu is said to have dropped some heavenly nectar and left a footprint. We joined hundreds of worshipers to witness the Ganga aarti, or river worship ceremony.

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It was a short stay in Haridwar, but we made the most of it before hopping on an overnight train to Delhi and onwards. 

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Rishikesh, India

A short drive from Dehradun lies the town of Rishikesh, sitting at the foothills of the Himalayas and near the source of the Ganges River, the holy river of the Hindus.

Rishikesh is the self-proclaimed yoga capital of the world and there was certainly no shortage of ashrams and institutes offering yoga, meditation, Ayurvedic treatments, and spiritual guidance. 

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Eric was excited to be in Rishikesh and see the place that inspired the Beatles' writing of their White Album, much of which they wrote at an ashram that is now abandoned.  

We spent the evening of the Winter solstice with hundreds of pilgrims, watching an aarti ceremony of light on the river, in dedication to the river goddess, Ganga, led by Chidananda Saraswati, one of Rishikesh's most famous gurus. 

After much walking around town and attempting to capture  its uniqueness with the many wandering sacred cows, sadhus seeking spiritual enlightenment, and pilgrims bathing in the Ganges, I gladly made time for an Ayurvedic massage and a morning yoga session - exactly what this weary, traveling pregnant woman needed. 

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Dehradun, India

After 5 days, we leave Dehradun, where we were able to visit our friends, the Hisheys, who do great work with the Tibetan community. It was such a nice time with their families and the others engaged in mentoring and caring for the community in so many ways. 

We also tries to understand the issues faced by the Tibetan refugees in this region, and attempted to understand their culture and heritage, which is quite intertwined with the Buddhist tradition. We took a whole day touring monasteries and Tibetan Buddhist sites in the area.

Being with these friends and learning more from another part of the world have our trip the meaning we hoped for.

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Mussoorie, India

My first days in India, at the foothills of the Himalayan mountains.

We are here to visit our friends, Isaac and Joshua and their families, and to meet the men they mentor - all refugees from Tibet.

Today they took us up a winding road to the old British hill station of Mussoorie and I had my first glimpse of the Himalayas.  It was certainly a tease and it left me wanting to see more of these majestic mountains.

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