The Ganga Arti at Haridwar

by Nov 10, 2015Art & Culture, India Art & Culture, Uttarakhand

What can be better than watching the Ganga Arti at Har ki Pauri, Haridwar on the early morning of Mahalaya? Mahalaya is an auspicious day among the Hindus when the men offer prayer to their ancestors in a ritual at the banks of holy river Ganga. The holy city of Haridwar is one of the places where it is considered auspicious to offer the ancestral prayers at the Ganga banks.

See what an atmosphere of holiness is here – the pure air of the Ganga – what an assemblage of Sadhus – will you find anywhere a place like this? – Swami Vivekananda

Ganga Arti at Haridwar

Huge crowd at Har ki Pauri Ghat at the dawn of Mahalaya

We had the opportunity of being at Haridwar on the Mahalaya this year. So early in the morning we decided to go to Har ki Pauri. Har ki Pauri is a famous ghat on the bank of the Ganga and is revered by all. Har means Lord Shiva and Pauri means feet. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu had visited Har ki Pauri during the Vedic times. Har ki Pauri is also the spot where the river Ganga leaves the mountains and enters the plains.

Ganga Arti at Haridwar

Puja offerings at Ganga Ghat

Har ki Pauri ghat was full of people early in the morning. Some were having a holy dip in the river while others were getting tonsured before offering the puja to their ancestors. Many were sitting with folded hands at the river bank offering Puja to their ancestors. There were swarms of people and the crowd only revealed the faith people had! We literally had to wiggle our way through the crowd and reach at the banks.

Ganga Arti at Haridwar


The whole place was filled with the aroma of incense and flowers. The chanting of prayers and the melodious hymns playing at the temples made for a respectful atmosphere. At about 6.00 am, the famous Ganga Arti started. The Purohits were performing the Arti with huge lamps (diyas) and Ganga arti song was playing at the background.

Ganga Arti at Haridwar

The priests offreing Ganga Arti

Having seen the Ganga Arti at the morning was not enough for us. We decided to watch the spectacle again in the evening. So at 5.00PM we were again back at the Har ki Pauri ghat. The steps were already full of people by then waiting like us to watch the Arti.

Ganga Arti at Haridwar

The wait

We found ourselves a place offered at the steps and waited for the Arti to begin. In the meantime, we saw many devotees offering prayers. Many of them were floating flowers and diyas on the river. At about six, it was announced that the Arti was about to begin. Soon there was excitement among the people who were waiting so long in anticipation. The idols were brought near the river bank.

Ganga Arti at Haridwar

Performing the Ganga Puja

A number of priests gathered at the ghat and started performing some rituals. The hymns were played at the background and then the lamps were lit and the priests performed the Puja with Arti. The Ganga Arti is a spectacle to watch. The whole atmosphere was such that whether you want or not, you will have a feeling of reverence and respect. The Arti in the evening is grander than that of the morning. Our wish of watching the Ganga Arti was finally fulfilled.

Ganga Arti at Haridwar

The visual treat

Ganga Arti at Haridwar

Ganga Arti

  1. An Arti is a devotional ritual that uses fire as an offering. It’s usually made in the form of a lit lamp
  2. The Ganga Aarti happens every morning and evening, whatever is the weather, sunny or rainy on the banks of the Ganges River in Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Varanasi. However, the ceremony is very different in each of these places.
  3. The Aarti takes place facing the river. The lamps are lit and circled around by the pandits (Hindu priests) in a clockwise manner, accompanied by changing or songs in praise of Mother Ganga.
  4. At Haridwar, there are two types of lamps – one having 100 lamps lit, while the other has 1000 lamps lit on a single lampstand.
Ganga Arti at Haridwar

The Ganga Arti being performed at Har Ki Pauri

Ganga Arti at Haridwar

Floating Diyas

Agni & Amrita

Agni & Amrita

Travel Experts

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life. We are intrigued by heritage, culture, festivals and people and that is reflected in our travel. And yes, we love the Himalayas too.

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  1. What a lovely read and great pictures too. It’s so nice to be involved in local cultures and traditions. Looks like everyone had a wonderful time.

  2. Sightseeing a religious ceremony is always fascinating. I used to enjoy a lot attending ceremonies in Sicily, Italy during the Catholic Holy Week.

  3. The ceremony is truly interesting. I never heard about it, but that is kind of thing I look for when I travel. Would love to get there with my camera.

    • Yes Alexander, it is delightful to watch. Please do give a visit. I would love to see you capture India! 🙂

  4. Wow, what an amazing thing to experience! I’ve been wanting to witness this for forever now. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Even though there are a lot of people, you can feel the solemnity of the ceremony. It must really be magical seeing thousands of lamps and candles burning in the darkness. We love witnessing religious ceremonies like this even though we are not exactly religious ourselves.

  6. Being an Indian, this is not new to me, but I love your photos and descriptions of the Ganga aarti.

  7. nice pictutes.very spiritual

  8. Great pictures of our rich traditions with informative description .


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