Advantages A colourful market
Disadvantages There probably won't be too much to tempt you to buy
|Is it worth visiting?|
As I may have mentioned before, my sister and I are genetically programmed to be completely rubbish at finding things even if we've got a map so with no map it was pretty sure that we'd get lost. As usual my sister had consulted the guidebook and then left it in the hotel, clearly intending to make the search all the more 'fun' by avoiding the obvious convenience of having a map. All Aileen could remember was that it was by the river – but then almost all of Haridwar is by the river so that wasn't a big help. It's also a city where very few people speak English so we decided to just follow our noses and see what happened. What resulted was a very pleasant and sometimes amusing stroll around the holy city.
The bazaar is laid out along a single long street of small shops and businesses either side of a narrow street, made narrower by the shop-keepers hanging their wares out in the street, cutting into the space. We saw some strange sights. A stall was selling possibly the ugliest furry dolls that I've ever seen. A sadhu (holy man) on a bicycle came flying towards me moving too fast to avoid the blur on my camera. Pilgrims in their best clothes jostled to buy brightly coloured religious pictures whilst my sister and her partner continued their retail therapy by buying yet more tunic tops that were almost guaranteed to run in the washing machine or the first time they got rained on. Sweet makers boiled up sweetened milk in giant iron pans as a base of their range of brightly coloured tooth-dissolvingly sweet treats. A pair of roadside barbers waved and smiled for the camera as we deftly avoided carts of highly polished vegetables being pushed up the middle of the street. A small bakery was rolling and heating breads on a hot-plate at the roadside and vegetable stall holders piled their pristine fruit and vegetable into Himalayan heaps of shining glory, exhibiting a real pride in what they had to offer.One stall had a conical heap of bright red dye piled up in the middle of the counter. The dye is used in religious ceremonies and sold in small tins or paper packets. I didn't dare go near for fear of sneezing and sending it flying across the street. A second stall had a smaller cone of dye and was guarded by a little old lady who beamed a toothless smile as we passed.
As we set off to find an auto-rickshaw to take us back to the hotel we came across one of the biggest monkeys I've ever seen. This fellow was sitting on one of the crowd barriers near the entrance to the area where the Aarti ceremony is performed. A giant amongst his furry monkey friends, he sat with his feet up on the barrier as passers-by brought him packets of food which he deftly unwrapped before devouring only the best bits. A policeman stood by laughing and an elderly lady beggar shook her head in frustration that someone would feed a monkey but wouldn't feed her. It was just one of the many bizarre things we saw in this crazy, wild, religious city.
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