Har Ki Pauri is one of the most sacred ghats located in Haridwar, on the banks of Ganges in Uttarakhand. This famous place is considered as one of the major landmarks in the holy city of Haridwar. Literally, “Har” means “Lord Shiva”, “Ki” means “of” and “Pauri” means “steps”. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu visited the Brahmakund in Har Ki Pauri in the Vedic ages. It is said that this is the accurate spot where the Ganges leaves the mountains and enters the plains. The ghat is on the west bank of Ganges canal through which the Ganges is diverted just to the north. Every day, Har Ki Pauri ghat witnesses hundreds taking a dip in the water of the Ganges. The place is considered very auspicious.
Legend says that there was a terrible fight between the gods and the devils (Devdas and Asuras) for the nectar (Amrit) urn which was extracted out of the Samudra Manthan of Sheer Sagar. When this horrifying fight went out of control, Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a beautiful lady and charmed the Asuras to take away the urn which has the nectar for the Devas. However, the Asuras came to know the actual truth behind the beautiful lady soon and started chasing Lord Vishnu to obtain the urn. While the chase, a few drops of nectar fell down at a place which is now referred to as Brahmakund in Har Ki Pauri. After knowing about the cultural significance of this place, King Vikramaditya built it in the 1st century in the memory of his brother, Bharthari, who used to meditate here on the bank of Ganges.
Har Ki Pauri is also the place where a large number of pilgrims come together and meet for the festivals to commence during the Kumbh Mela, which takes place every twelve years, and the Ardh Kumbh Mela, which takes place every six years. An incredible sight during the Kumbh Mela is thousands of people taking bath in the Ganga River. The place also remains busy during the Vaisakhi, a Punjabi festival which is considered as a harvest festival occurring every year in the month of April. Some other festivals celebrated here are the Kanwar Mela and the Magh Mela.
The main attraction of Har Ki Pauri
The most stunning part of Har Ki Pauri is the Evening Ganga Aarti. One gets to witness the incredible sights of the priests holding large bowls of fire on one side and devotees standing on the other side. Added to that, the rhythmic sound of the gongs makes it a sight to behold for the rest of life. The devotees also float diyas and earthen lamps with burning flickers and flowers during the evening Aarti. These burning flickers symbolize the hopes and wishes of the devotees and the scene of hundreds of diyas in the ghat lake creates a spectacular and unmatched scene.
Cleaning and Development
Over the years the ghats have undergone major renovation and extension as the crowds increased in subsequent Kumbh Melas. Several temples have come up on the steps, most built in the late 19th century. Every year generally on the night of Dussehra, the waters in the Ganga Canal in Haridwar are partially dried to do the job of cleaning the riverbed and undertake the repairing of the ghats. The waters are generally restored on the night of Diwali. But the Ganga Aarti is held every day as usual. It is believed that Maa Ganga visits her paternal house on the day of Dussehra and returns on the day of Bhai Dooj or Bhai Phota.