Maha Shivratri , Kovad Mela and a long weekend…

We had been stuck in Gurgaon for quite some time, due to work, weather or some other celebrations in the friends/family circle. Luckily Mahashivratri Monday holiday coincided with no other commitments. So, we decided to get out during this long week-end.
For three whole days –February 18 to 21. Decided against hill resorts, due to weather, and a strong call from Haridwar to attend the Ganga Arti and a holy dip at Har-ki-Pauri. WE checked up on the Haridwar from various write-ups on the Ghumakkar site just to refresh ourselves with any tips, though we have visited the place number of times.

Shot from running car--on way to Haridwar

So come Saturday, the 18th we moved out at 8.45 am, confronted the normal traffic. The drive is quite pleasant with all the newly constructed by-passes, with well –maintained smooth roads. Although both Haldiram and McDonald have opened their outlets at Mansurpur on Khatoli by-pass. We decided to go through the old Khatoli town road to have a break at Cheetal. (Incidentally, we were told that Cheetal will also be opened on the by-pass in couple of weeks)We were at Cheetal at 12 noon, and spent an hour breakfasting. Back on highway at 1300 hours and Haridwar at 3.30pm.

Left the car at Parking and took the rickshaw for our usual hotel-Hotel Teerath, right at Ganga.Its a nice clean place with large double room, large bath, balcony overlooking the Ganga. And clean, freshly washed linen and towels at
Rs.2000 per night.

Room in the Hotel

Ganga Ghat frm Balcony


We had not realized that this was the time when KOVAD mela takes place, beside the Mahashivratri crowd. The place was crawling with hundreds of Kanwarias preparing their KOVADS (kanwars?) for the annual Shivratri march of theirs. We had seen these kanwarias marching on the road carrying their KOVAD,but never realized their religious fervor ,dedication, and the passion with which they build their KOVAD.We were mesmerized watching them preparing, and decorating their offerings to gods- SHIVA.

Devotees working day & night

SHIVA Devotees preparing Kovads.

Ganga, at Haridwar, of-course is their starting point during the Shivratri week. And they come here at least 4 days before and work on their KOVADS, day and night. This time it was pretty cold week, but it didn’t seem to deter them. This, I believe, is one of the biggest religious congregations of North India.

Normally, we the townsfolk see and believe these kanwarias, running to their destination on the roads, to be of lower strata of society. No longer. The profile of kanwarias has changed. At Haridwar, we came across business people,high class families, community clans and executives getting prepared for their run after spending days preparing their, what we call Bamboo staffs—KOVADS.There are motor cycle riders, cycle wallas,and others.


We talk in awe of people in West decorating their X-Mas trees, but you have to watch these kanwarias, on the Ganga kinare, to forget West and their X-Mas trees.
The skeleton Kovads made of bamboo, in many shapes and sizes, can be bought as they are sold at Ganga; and then decorate it yourself as you want. But mostly people like to build their own skeletons.The decoration material, of all kinds, including, pictures of gods, both framed and without frames, toys, and you name it, From A to Zee, China has swamped the market. Beautiful stuff and cheap (nothing more than Rs.10).

Shops selling the decoration items

Once their kovads are ready, pooja done and they have got the blessings of Ganga.they are ready to leave to go to their destination, they run and chant, atop of Voices” BAM BAM BHOLE BAM BAM BHOLE”It’s a mantra that generates the energy, and praises of gods. BAM, I am told is the short name of BARAHMA,VISHNU & MAHESH. BA stands for Brahma and Vishnu, and M stands for Mahesh. These kanwarias, while walking bare feet to their destined place, they eat only what is provided to them by the road-side devotees.Kanwarias don’t buy anything themselves.

Since us, luckily, happened to be there at the right time, we took quite a few pictures. Most of these pictures don’t need captions as they are all related to the story and easy to understand.


Ready for Dip

Well, we had our holy dip, joined in the Ganga Arti.Had our Puri Bhaji on the banana leaves, and on Monday, 20th, at 1.25 in the afternoon we left for home. Reached Gurgaon at 8.45pm, after spending an hour at Cheetal on way back.

Puri Bhaji at Haridwar

One of the many pictures of finished Kovads.And the starting point—the mere skeltons.



  • Nandan says:

    So glad to see you here Jatinder. After quite a while, I guess.

    Team Ghumakkar is doing good and you would see a lot of new faces in our family here. I am not sure on whether you have been reading the stories but some great Jyotirling stories have been published in recent times.

    When was the first time you went to Haridwar ? I am sure a lot would have changed since then.

  • anupam.mazumdar says:

    Nice writeup, real informative jatinder. Will help a lot.

    Anupam Mazumdar

    • JATINDER SETHI says:

      Anupam, Iam sorry that I reply to your comment as I had made one for all in reply to NANDAN

  • ?? ???? ?? ????????, ?? ???? ????

    • JATINDER SETHI says:

      Thanks. I cant forget the shouts of “BAM BAM BHOLE”of these kanwrias.We were lucky to be there to have this experience .

  • Jatinder jee ,

    Superb post with beautiful description on Kovads. I was mesmerized reading your post……….

    Puri Bhaji feels tasty …………………

    • JATINDER SETHI says:

      Thanks. Puri Bhaji at this was really good.And the place is very neat and clean.Rs35 for Puri(4) and bhaji as much as you want..And the little boy who was serving the food had such smiling face.

  • SilentSoul says:

    Thanks Sethi Ji, It was superb post. wish you could have put some more photos of Kanwarias, taking kanwars in big groups.

    Thanks for sharing… ?? ???? ???

    • JATINDER SETHI says:

      As I mentioned in reply to Nandan, I have quite a few more pictures, but didnt wantto overload.In fact there was a group of about 5 kanwarias,in their underwear after the puja at Har-Ki-Pauri,and started like”GO” running shouting “bam bam bhole.” It was asight to watch.
      May be Nandan should find a way to insert pictures in the “Reply” panel.
      Thanks once again.

    • Jatinder Sethi says:

      Nandan has added few more photos. The one last(Ready for Dip) is actually a group of Kanwarias, at Har Ki Pauri, just about to pick up their community Kovad,and run.It was about 8.30 at night.

  • ???????? ?? ????? ???? ?? ???? ???? ????? ????? ????? ? ?? ???? ??? ???? ??????? ?? ?? ???? ????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ??? ??? ?

    ???? ????? ????? ……………….

    • JATINDER SETHI says:

      I dont know whether you read my JOINT reply to Nandan,I felt I need to reply to all individually.
      We have been to Haridwar number of times,and ever time it is a different experience-while you are having a dip in Ganga or attending the Aarti, or just listening to the gushing sound of the river at mid-night.
      Thanks Tyagi sahib.

  • Neeraj Jat says:

    ??? ?? ???? ??? ???????? ?? ???? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ????? ????? 30 ???????? ???? ??, ??? ?? ????? ?? ?? ????? ?? ???????? ?? ???? ???

    • JATINDER SETHI says:

      So gave it up? 30 km is quite long.How do the others do it. Thats called FAITH, perhasps give you the spitual energy.Regards.

  • Jatinder Sethi says:

    1.Hi Nandan,I have been visiting Ghumakkar quite regularily,and noticed all the young writer and their professional posts.Ghumakkar has become highly professional place for keen ghumakkars,under the Professional Editor. Ameteurs like me are now scared to post and be ridiculed.I do follow you on Facebook too,and keep me updated. My good wishes for Ghumakkar.

    And my personal thanks to all others-Anupam,Jatdevta,Vishal Tyagi.

    Silent Soul,yes, I shot lot of pictures of group of Kanwarias, Bike gangas, Dak Kanwarias(who always run,and not walk.)I thought the Editor wouldnt like too mant pix.

    Shri Mannu Tyagi Sahib, I fully agree with you that you can view Haridwar and Ganga in hundreds of ways,every time you viist the Ganga.I love to hear the gushing sound of the river at night,when everything else is dead silent.

    Reminds me of the old song of Negro slaves of America along the Mississppi River”Ol man river, he just keeps rolin along”

    Thank you all Ghumakkars,from an ol man

  • Nandan says:

    All of us would need your blessing Sir. Please write more often and please comment as you find time.

    • JATINDER SETHI says:

      Nandan, thanks. You are too kind.I still wear my GHUMAKKAR shirt you gave mr present on First Anni. of Ghumakkar.

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    Sir Ji…..Namskar

    I am thankful for your excellent & informative post about Haridwar & Kovads Mela. Nice see the picture of “KOVADS”.

    ?? ?? ???? ??? ??……………….

    Thanks once again and Keep writing….


    Ritesh dear,
    Thanks. It was agreat eye-opening experience,and we were lucky to be there .
    Regards. Jatinder

  • Short but very good post supported by bright pictures of KANWAR and KANWARIAS. Poori-Bhaji seems to be tasty. The way you have described the Hotel Teerath, it would be good if there is some photo of the view from balcony.

    • JATINDER SETHI says:

      Deependra, thanks for your compliment. I have quite a few pictures from the balcony,but cant add them in now!.If yiu want I can email to you. Regards.

    • Jatinder Sethi says:

      Nandan has kindly added few more pictures of the room and balcony scene from the hotel. Its just for you. . We liked the place.

  • Nandan says:

    Sir – Send any pics which you want to publish to me or Vibha and we would get it done ASAP.


    Actually I have emailed you few pictures as asked by both Deependra and Silent Soul. You can fwd them

  • Nandan says:

    Thanks. I have added four more photos, including the one which gives you the view from the hotel room balcony.

  • Jatinder Sethi says:

    Thanks..Hope Deepender gets to view them.

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Great post, Mr. Sethi. Going by the comments here, looks like you are one of the seniormost ghumakkars here. I wish that you would write more often here.

    In Kerala, devotees of Lord Ayyappa perform a dance called Kavadi Attam, in which they dance with kavadis, which are colourfully decorated bamboo frames which are carried on the shoulders. I wonder if there is a religious/etymological link between the kovads and the kavadis in spite of the immense distance between Haridwar and Kerala.

  • That is really attention-grabbing, You are an excessively skilled blogger. I’ve joined your rss feed and look ahead to in the hunt for more of your excellent post. Additionally, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

  • Vibzz says:

    Hi Jitendra Ji,

    Thanks for sharing your experience @ Mahashivratri time. I am also planning to visit Haridwar from 14 Feb- 16 Feb. Can you please advise if you faced any problem while traveling from Delhi to Haridwar, any road blockage due to Kanwar ?


  • JNSETHI says:

    Dear Vibzz,
    First of all, I would like to know how do you pronounce this name? Or this is not a real name.

    Anyway. You will have no problem driving down to Haridwar,as the roads are good. But you may have little jam at couple of place, but manageable. Start early, drive carefully(if you are going with family) and avoid hitting any of the Kanwarias. You will enjoy the dip in Ganga,no matter how cold.
    Wish you a Good week end. Do tell us when you come back.

  • Jatinder Sethi says:

    Thanks to ghumakkar family for putting this 5 years old Post up again on the Mahashivratri–that perhaps is blessing on both my wife Uma and me who are now(22/2/2017) celebrating 59 years of wedded life and 61 years of Delhi university romance
    Strange that in this 5 year old post I mentioned an old song,when everything else is dead Ganga reminded me of song of Negro slaves of America along the Mississppi River
    “Old man river, he just keeps rolin along”
    And 5 years later revisiting Ganga at Haridwar (stairway to Heaven”again reminded me of another river song by Billy Joel “In the middle of the night”.
    Thanks ghumakkar revisiting me,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *