My Tryst with the Evening Ganga Arti at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar

What better place there can be to conclude our Char Dham Yatra - virtually or otherwise – than at the feet of the Lord Himself…?

Yes, the final few minutes of the Char Dham Yatra of ours, saw us at the Har ki Pauri Ghat – the most venerated spot in the holy town of Haridwar. Literally, it means Lord Vishnu's (Har Ki) footsteps (Paudi), but it is today synonymous with the prolific event of Kumbh Mela, (that takes place four times every 12 years at 4 different sites, Haridwar being one of them) and for the highly enthralling evening Ganga Arti that holds the charm to captivate thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.

This highly prestigious event of Haridwar or Ganga arti was the one thing I was very much craving to attend. Add to it the fact that I had already  been eluded by it twice before, in Varanasi and Allahabad, only made matters worse by increasing my yearnings even more. Even this time around, the situation being a bit dicey with the timings of our train departure (8.00 PM) and the Ganga Arti (6.45 PM) clashing with one another, our attending the event was highly dubious and a final call on the same was going to be a real time decision only…

A Photologue on the Evening Ganga Arti at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat, Haridwar

5:30 PM - At about half past five in the evening, crowds have already begun to gather. Steps are being occupied thick and fast by devotees pouring in from all corners of the town. Priests sit on raised wooden planks calling out to pilgrims to perform various pujas for the well being of their family and near and dear ones.

Priests sitting on raised wooden planks at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar
Priests sitting on raised wooden planks at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat, Haridwar
Priests looking out for devotees at the Ghat

Temple bells tinkle periodically to give out a sweet melody…

A Temple on the banks of River Ganga in Haridwar
Main Ganga Temple on the banks of har Ki Pauri in Haridwar
A temple on the banks of the River Ganga at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar
Ancient Temples dedicated to Mother Ganga and Lord Shiva
at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat

The chants, the prayers and the melody of devotional hymns reverberate in the air creating a pulsating drone...

Devotees take part in various rituals at the Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar
Priests sitting on raised wooden planks and performing certain rituals at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar
Groups of people offering their prayers to Mother Ganga

A heady blend of intoxicating aroma arising from incense sticks and fresh flowers wafts freely through the soft yet humid atmosphere,  giving the entire setting a magical ambiance...

Har Ki Pauri Ghat, the main ghat in Haridwar
Leaf Diyas and a traditional pooja thali (prayer plate) on sale for the devotees

By and large, all the groups assembled at the steps maintain a very peaceful atmosphere.

Pilgrims gathered at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar for the Evening Ganga Arti
A crowd of devotees assembled at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat for the Ganga Arti

The ghats, in contrast, are abuzz with activity.

Crowds gathered at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar for the evening Ganga Arti
Pilgrims engrossed in various ritualistic activities
at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar

Many can be seen splashing water onto their faces and heads, while others are busy floating leaf diyas (candles) in Her waters and some just find content by standing transfixed with hands folded and heads bowed down in prayer.

A devotee lights a leaf diya to set afloat on the River Ganga at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar
A Man lights a leaf diya on the steps of the Ghat

Wiggling my way through the swarm, I reach Her shores and kneel down. I lower my hands in the cold yet comforting waters and feel the sense of Her soothing touch deftly caress the tip of my hands. Tiny ripples tumble gently over giving me a strange feeling of kinship possibly developed from our coupled travels so far. Young and bubbly in Gangotri, soft in Harsil, considerably mellowed in Rishikesh and now here… In a split second, Her various avatars from days gone by flash in front of me taking me back into a nostalgic journey but before I can dive deep, Her whooshing sound wakes me up bringing me back to reality  and reminding me to take pleasure in the moment as this is to be our last summit together… and while She is an eternal traveler with a long road ahead of her, mine is soon to end. I have to now head back home…

A diya floats atop the River Ganga at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar
A diya floats on top of the River Ganga

By the time, I climb back again, the sun is all set kissing the horizon and the steps are fully occupied. The chit-chatter amongst the crowd has risen substantially and so has the anticipation for the Ganga arti to commence.

Pilgrims gathered at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar for the evening Ganga Aarti
Sea of pilgrims at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar Moments before the Evening Ganga Arti begins
Waiting moments just before the commencement of the Ganga arti
at the Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar

I take a vantage point somewhere and spend a few quiet moments in retrospection. The bells, the temples, the waters, the devotion, the faith, all the elements in the atmosphere work in unison to nourish the mind, body and soul.

The Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar just before the Evening Ganga Arti
Spend a few solitary moments with the Mother before parting...

Men in blue uniforms roam around asking for donations, the proceeds from which shall purportedly go towards the Ganga arti. Lights have come on and the river is twinkling with reflections, curious eyes are everywhere. The prayers should begin in any time now.

6.45 PM - The arti still hasn’t begun. But we have a train to catch and can’t wait any further... We need to track back and take leave.

Sight of The Har Ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar
With Your permission, we leave dear Mother...
Bidding Adieu..

As we make our way back through the markets towards our car for the Haridwar station, strikingly loud chants of ‘Ganga Maiya ki Jai’ resound in the atmosphere. I feel a pinch in my heart, why does this have to happen to me again and again, somehow I console myself and move on... Time to get back home and plan another one of my yatras

Previous posts from this trip -

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  1. Ahh, thank you my friend for posting this. It brought such lovely memories especially the wonderful feeling when the leaf diya was placed on Mother Ganga.

  2. May be I'll visit someday these places..and since i have read this, it'll be more like a guide...
    thanks for sharing

    stay connected!!!
    its me!!! sharan :)

  3. I had been to this place about 6 years back with my college friends as part of college trip . To see the ganga arthi was real exciting and wonderful experience .

  4. Its sure a treat watching this and many many thanks for this photoblog :)

  5. A beautiful and moving post, Arti, as always and such superb captures. They are the next best thing to being there myself! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! Have a lovely week!


  6. How beautiful the sights, sounds and smells must be! Lovely pics.

  7. Beautiful.....writeup & the clicks are awesome, Thanks for sharing.

  8. Beautiful post, love the pictures...

  9. How beautiful! You remind me of my mother, who is spiritual like you.

  10. Beautiful to see and I can just imagine how wonderful it would be with the sounds -- of the bells and chanting. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Nice experiences shared, Arti! :):) I have been to Haridwar but couldn't witness this beauty as I left the place before evening. The place surely has a soothing effect. Lovely pics! They make me want to visit the place again. :)

  12. An amazing journey comes to a fabulous end. The pictures resound with emotions, Ganga has touched these peoples' lives some way or the other. Good post, Arti. Looking forward to your next yatra:)

  13. floating diya,lighting beautiful shots with lots of info

  14. What an amazing moment. Thank you for allowing us to share the magic with you.

  15. How interesting! Too bad you had to get back home. Lovely photos. :)

  16. I can see so many people gathering along the river.
    What a happy thing! People look happy and enjoy their life. :)

  17. you reminded me of such old times..I used to love putting that leaf Diya into the ganges and then sit on the banks and watch it....

  18. Your words and photos convey the atmosphere well, Arti. A feast for the the heart and the senses.

  19. Lovely post .Brought back lots of fond memories.

  20. What a wonderful trip I've had, here's to my next armchair adventure.

  21. What an absolutely beautiful place. Wow. Just wow! Love your pictures in the night with the lights. So pretty.

  22. Beautiful pos Arti - these pictures capture the magic! One day i must go and visit India - and we'll have a blogger meet-up -that would be fun! Enjoy your day!

  23. Superb detailed coverage. Thank you so much.

  24. What a beautiful trip Arti....amazing capturs!

    Take care

  25. Hello,Arti.
    You had a wonderful and interesting trip as always! I really feel the sound ,the atmosphere!

    Thank you for your heartwarming comment. I am gradually getting back my usual life.
    Have a great day,Arti.

  26. a nice narration of the aarti...i have experienced it many times...and each time, it feels divine!!

  27. Hi, Arti, I'm back. I'm interested in what the melody of the temple bell is or how chanting resonates. The atmosphere of the place is conveyed through five senses guided by your words and wonderful photos. I'm always amazed with the spiritual harmony when so many people get together in your country. Have nice days ahead, Arti.


  28. Arti,
    How beautifully you depicted Mother Ganga!! I have read a several times especially this part “Wiggling my way through the swarm, I reach Her shores and kneel down. I lower ・・・・・・“ Because I wanted to feel what sensation or feeling you had when you touched the waters. Arti, I felt. Thanks a lot for taking me to this holly pilgrimage.
    Best wishes,

  29. sorry Arti I always will try to comment early from here each of these photos are so divine and lovely to view...when I was in India i used to visit Haridwar very often with my parents....I miss all this...Beautiful post!

  30. Interesting pics. I especially like the diya floating on the river.

  31. Beautiful narration + pics. Gives feeling of really being there.

  32. every article in this series makes me want to visit your country more and more. i, too, don't want it to end.

    i wish you more wonderful yatras, Arti. :D

  33. the holy place,i ever wanted to see...thanq so much for sharing...really feeling like i am there...

  34. What beautiful pictures - you have captured the moment indeed! Thank you so much for sharing all of your thoughts with the pictures as well!!

  35. It's heartening to see the Ganges still look beautiful, serene and powerful at Haridwar. I'm sure she must be looking imposing when she originates from the Himalayas even now. But it really pained me to see she is just a pale shadow of herself at Varanasi.

  36. Such a way you have with words and photos!

  37. What moving ceremony!
    Thank you very much for the wonderful photos of you, I lived the sacred moments!
    Many greetings and good weekend!

  38. great post.... my parents had just gone to varanasi and my mother was saying a lot about that place.... ur photos give a good view and I can understand the things my mother said... she was awestruck and was speaking a lot about the places...

  39. Your presentation is unique and amazing Arti ji.I had been at Haridwar for about two and half
    years while I worked for BHEL in 1975-1977.
    I used to attend arti usually in every week end.Experience was very
    pious and heart calming.

    Many many thanks for a nice presentation with beautiful pictures.

  40. I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.

  41. Hi Arti,

    I enjoyed reading your post and seeing all the lovely photographs.
    You really do live in an interesting and colourful place.

    Happy weekend

  42. Another amazing post Arti!

    All your articles are so inspiring and so interesting with the mixture of cultural lessons and photos. I'm intrigued and fascinated by India and its incredible festivals.

    Hope you have a fantastic week as well!

  43. Awesome post,wish you and your family a very happy deepawali.

  44. Hi Arti, Wish you and your family a very happy diwali ...and loved looking at those pics....

  45. Images of Ganga aarti are impressive. The yatra of ganga pushkar is also bring more peace to your life. Pushkar lake is well known holy lake in India.

  46. It is always amazing to see the Arti. Varanasi is an the place that make you experience the religion, culture of India.

  47. It is a magical moment to see the whole Ganga Aati with such large religious congregation. The sound of ringing bells, cymbals, chanting mantras and gurgling Ganga River is utopian. I wish to visit Haridwar again. A must see Ganga aarti for all.

  48. Many many thanks for this photoblog. this is really good.


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