After our hotel breakfast we started our day of sightseeing the most famous temples of Hardiwar in the Ganges river area.
Today we opted out of a tour guide thinking that visiting temples was self explanatory, but quickly realized that we should’ve had one. The city of Haridwar is difficult to do on your own, temples do not have English and the front gates are hard to find. The local people of this region also speak very little English. When our driver gave us vague directions for us to find the temple ourselves, we thought it would be a good idea to just have him come with us instead, which we were glad he did.
The first temple we saw was the Chadni Devi temple build 1929 it was on top of a hill and we used their rope way to reach it, There was a walking option as well, but it was about an hour walking in the hot sun. We were surprised to see how many vendors were inside selling food, offerings, jewelry, and incense. They even had a cafeteria on the ground level, mini park for kids, and an area for people to pose with a picture of a train.There were so many people there that we were funneled into gated areas and were crowded inside. I did not expect the holy temple to be so chaotic on the inside it felt almost like a theme park, at each mini temple there was a priest ushering you towards them in a congested space.
The second temple we went to was Mansa Devi located on the southernmost mountain chain of the Himalayas. To see this temple you had to park at one end of the Ganges walk to the other end, cross a bridge, find a rickshaw, and then take the ropeway up. The temple experience at this one was very similar to Chadni Temple. At one point we received a blessing and has a bracelet tied to our wrist.
After this we stopped by a local restaurant in the Hardiwar city area, we ordered dal makhini, paneer butter masala, and butter naan.
I did not expect to see so many old poor and disfigured people at the temples begging for money. Also inside the temples they ask you for a donation at 10-20 different areas, which you feel very obliged to do. We definitely left the day with a lot less money.
The final temple we went to was the Maha Devi Temple that was further out from town and was much more peaceful. There were depictions of famous scenes of the Hindu gods and giant statues.
Our driver has no clue what was on our itinerary today and when we read him what was on it, he had to ask multiple local people on the way where it was. At the end of the day he drove us far out of the city into an ashram for local people, but we don’t think this was the intended destination. When we ate lunch the driver ordered his own food, but then placed it on our bill without ever acknowledging it before or after we paid. There was also a couple of times where he didn’t really seem to fend off the pushy vendors or keep an eye out where we were. Unlike our precious driver who had us wake up early and tried to fill up our day until evening, this driver set late pickup times and tries to drop us back at the hotel as early as possible.