Reach Har Ki Pauri Ghat, Haridwar
Haridwar is a comfortable 4-5 hrs drive from Delhi and around 1.5-2 hrs from Dehradun. Both these cities have an airport; however, compared to Dehradun, Delhi is connected to the rest of the country in a much better way. So if you do not find a flight to Dehradun, land in Delhi and then drive to Haridwar.
Alternatively, you can reach Haridwar by train or bus also. Rishikesh is just around an hour away from Haridwar so you can club a visit to the two destinations conveniently.
Once in Haridwar, you can use public transportation like autos and buses to reach Har ki Pauri ghat. If you are taking your own vehicle, you will need to get down at a point after which either you walk down the rest of the distance to the ghat or take a rickshaw ride. For elders, who find it difficult to walk, choosing the second option is a good idea. However, for fit and healthy people, it is just a short distance to cover – perfectly ok to walk. The cars, by the way, have to be parked on the opposite side of the point you get down.
The ghat has market all around selling pooja items like flowers, utensils and diyas. There are a lot of eating places as well.
Brahmakund – Har-Ki-Pauri-Ghat
Brahmakund is where the main aarti is performed. It is considered to be the sacred spot where drops of amrit fell from the vessel carried by Garuda post Samudra Manthan (churning of the sea). This is where you should be if you want to do the aarti yourself.
Before entering this area, you need to take off your shoes and deposit them at the counter. There are many temples around too including Maharishi Valmiki Mandir, Shri Sankaracharya Math Mandir and the main Ganga Mata Mandir
Timings of Ganga Aarti in Haridwar
Daily aartis are performed twice a day – during sunrise and sunset. The sunset one is recommended as the area is well illuminated and the aarti appears all the more beautiful at this time. The timings vary according to season. You will do good to enquire with locals or even better from people at the ghat instead of relying on Internet for the purpose.
Reach atleast half an hour prior to the stipulated time because the aarti is just for ten minutes. This means that even if you are a little late, you stand to miss a good part of or possibly even the entire experience of Ganga aarti. Also, if you reach early, you can see the various preparations that go on before the actual aarti commences.
If you want to simply see and enjoy the beauty of aarti, you should be on the opposite side, where the clock tower is. Again remember that people begin to arrive a little early to get a good seat on the stairs here. By the time the aarti begins, it is fully packed. So if you want to get a good view of the Ganga aarti, reach a little more early (atleast an hour before) to secure a good place for yourself.
The Experience of Ganga Aarti at Har-Ki-Pauri
Though there is a lot of crowd and noise around (which can sometimes be overwhelming), you can clearly see the devotion of the people. A number of them float diyas and flowers placed in small bowls made of banana leaves. Others take a dip in the holy water, even in winters when the weather is cold. A number of them bring diya batti or cotton wicks from their home and add it to the fire lamps being prepared for the aarti.
In case you want to do the aarti yourself, just get in touch with one of the priests. You will have to pay a dakshina or fees for the same after which you can do the aarti along with the priest. In total 21 aartis performed simultaneously.
Before the aarti begins some rituals are followed and holy chants fill the air. Once the aarti begins it is another feeling of spiritual high.
However, as mentioned before, if you just want to see the aarti, stay on the opposite bank. From here visuals of all 21 aartis being performed together is absolutely wonderful and enchanting.
Post Ganga Aarti
You can roam around in the market and check out various items that are being sold. You can also choose to sit and eat at one of the many restaurants around. Mohan Ji Puri wale is very popular among the locals. It is a small place with seating arrangements for only around 10-12 people.