In an era where off-beat locations seem to be overpowering iconic destinations, we holiday in Haridwar as a solo woman traveller
In a world where we, as Gen Z, often find ourselves immersed in the hustle and bustle of urban life immersed in our own little digital worlds, we never foresaw ditching technology and setting foot in one of India’s most religious cities. A couple of decades ago, women travelling here complained about eerie incidents and numerous reports flashed on the news supporting their claims and maybe this was one of the major reasons why most solo women travellers avoided boarding a flight to Uttarakhand.
But as time has passed, so have the situations and we decided to take the plunge and how! We embarked on a solo journey to one of India’s most religious destinations, greedy to soak in the spirituality and peace Haridwar is known to offer to everyone who seeks it and to see how the Gateway to the Gods treats the modern desi solo woman traveller.’ History and Haridwar are intricately entangled with one another.
When we say historical significance, we don’t just mean the time when king Bhagirath brought river Ganga from heaven to earth or when Lord Vishnu left his footprint on a stone that is set in the upper wall of Har Ki Pauri. But also in terms of the city’s vibrant architecture left behind by the royal families and aristocrats that to this day stand tall on the Ganga ghat.
And, as informed by our guide, living in these fancy havelis with intricate carvings and protruding balconies are the city’s famous pandits who will pull out your entire family tree if your ancestors were associated with them or their forefathers in some way. Enchanted by the beauty of these buildings, we found ourselves in a centuries-old regal haveli owned by the descendants of the royal family of Pilibhit — Pilibhit House, a century-old aristocratic mansion meticulously restored that now forms a part of the IHCL SeleQtions.
This noble house boasts the largest private bathing ghat in the city and one can enjoy a Ganga Aarti or Yoga at the Ganges Deck. Haridwar is a welcoming city for all. Here you’ll spot solo woman travellers not just from across India but from other parts of the world dressed modestly keeping the local customs in mind. Women fearlessly taking a dip in the holy river amongst a sea of strangers without the fear of being eyed or touched or groped and women freely shopping and savouring local treats around the old markets long after the sun had disappeared into the horizon — Haridwar has changed.
The city is a melting pot of cultures and religions, where people come to attain spiritual enlightenment and cleanse their souls in the holy waters of the Ganges. Now that you have a rough idea about women’s safety in Haridwar, here are some experiences one simply cannot miss, which go beyond participating in the Ganga Aarti at Har Ki Pauri that takes place daily at sunset.
Find local ashrams that offer yoga and meditation classes, providing you with the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate your mind and body or set off on a food trail through Moti Bazaar if you are a chaat lover and foodie. Although the range of available adventure sports in this city is slimmer in comparison to the neighbouring Yoga capital (Rishikesh), it does offer unique off-roading excursions to Chiriyapur Forest Range for a wetland tour or for jaw-dropping views of the Ganga from the ropeways built in the 1990s taking you to Manasa and Chandi Devi Mandirs.
With this unique blend of spirituality, culture and adventure, our solo journey to this city of sacred traditions left us with a sense of inner peace and self-discovery. It’s a place where the past meets the present and every traveller, especially a women, should consider exploring this enchanting city on their own.
Stay: Pilibhit House, Haridwar – IHCL SeleQtions 30,000 onwards. At Niranjani Akhara Marg, Haridwar.
Nearest airport: Dehradun, Nearest railhead: Haridwar Junction, By road, Haridwar is approximately a four-hour drive away from Delhi and Chandigarh.