The Haveli Hari Ganga Hotel in Haridwar elevates the spiritual footing of the holy town with its royal splendour and intriguing history. By Kumar Shree
Every time a trip comes to an end, the destination evokes a distinct sentiment. On my trip to Haridwar, however, I felt this on the very first day, when the car pulled over at The Haveli Hari Ganga Hotel. The feeling was of attachment, a reluctance to leave. At Haveli Hari Ganga, the vehicle does not arrive at the driveway. It drops you off at a sprawling
parking space, from where an e-rickshaw takes you through serpentine roads to the property. The ride gives you a quick glimpse of the city—stores on either side of the road selling clothes, ornaments, jewellery, utensils, and food. The riot of colours and smells set
the mood for my time in the small town with a hustling soul.
The Haveli Hari Ganga Hotel was erected in 1913 by the then Maharaja of Pilibhit, on the bank of River Ganga. It is located close to the Har Ki Pauri Ghat, the spot where River Ganga touches the plains for the first time. The generous size of the rooms, seating areas,
and balconies speak of its opulence. The property also retains and celebrates its rustic charm, and though it is impossible to gauge the age of the structure at first glance, subtle hints give it away.
I noticed a wooden beam above my bed, along with a few wooden pillars that were characteristic of 20th-century architecture. The cot, surprisingly, was a raised marble platform, its wooden facade fooling even the most discerning guest. The walls of the property sported a muted shade of mustard yellow and white.
The Haveli Hari Ganga Hotel excels at celebrating world cuisine. The à la carte menu at the property brings together dishes not just from across the country, but all over the world. I saw offerings from Punjab, South India, Gujarat, Kashmir, and the northeastern region. There were also vegan salads and creamy Thai curries to choose from. I treated myself to generous servings of ratatouille during dinner at Ganga Lahari, the hotel’s sister property, with which it shares the buffet counter.
The property also hosts a private Ganga aarti every evening, for those who are too beat to take a walk to the nearby ghat. An in-house bhajan performance follows the aarti. You can also choose to sip on a cup of ginger tea or coffee while gazing at the mighty river from the property’s courtyard.
Visit the Maa Mansa Devi Temple, which is roughly a 90-minute drive from the property. The ropeway that takes you to the temple offers an expansive view of the city. If you wish to stick to the region’s spiritual offerings, visit the many temples and ashrams in Haridwar and Rishikesh, which is 40 minutes by road. Make room for some adventure—a safari in the Rajaji National Park leads to a different kind of quietude. White water rafting, bungee jumping, and ziplining in Rishikesh are my recommendations.