Har Ki Pauri is a famous ghat on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar in Uttarakhand state in India. This revered place is the major landmark of the holy city of Haridwar. Literally, "Har" means "Lord Shiva" who is the god according to shaivite school of Hindu theology, "ki" means "of" and "pauri" means "steps". Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are believed to have visited the Brahmakund in Har ki Paudi in the Vedic times. There is a large footprint said to belong to Lord Vishnu on a stone wall.
It is believed that it is precise 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. Har ki pauri is also the area where thousands of pilgrims converge and the festivities commence during the Kumbha Mela, which takes place every twelve years, and the Ardh Kumbh Mela, which takes place every six years and the Punjabi festival of Vaisakhi,a harvest festival occurring every year in the month of April .
King Vikramaditya is said to have built it in 1st century BC in the memory of his brother, Bharthari who had come to meditate here on the bank of the Ganges. An area within Har ki Pauri, where the evening Ganga Aarti takes places and which is considered most sacred is known as Brahamakund. It is considered to be the spot where the drops of Amrit fell over from the sky, while being carried in a pitcher by the celestial bird, Garuda after the Samudra manthan.
Every day, Har Ki Pauri ghat witnesses hundreds taking a dip in water of the Ganges. The place is considered very auspicious. Over the years the ghats have undergone major extension and renovation as the crowds increased in subsequent Kumbh Melas. Several temples have come up on the steps, most built in late 19th century. The extension of the ghats took place in 1938 (done by pandit Hargyaan Singh Katara -Zamindaar from Agra in Uttar Pradesh), and then again in 1986.
The Ganga Aarti:
Each evening at sunset priests perform Ganga Aarti here, when lights are set on the water to drift downstream. This is the most amazing and soul touching spectacle. A large number of people gather on both the banks of river Ganges to sing its praises. The priest hold large fire bowls in their hands, the gongs in the temples at the Ghat start ringing and the chants flowing out of lips fill the air. People float earthen diyas, with burning flickers and flowers in them as a symbol of hope and wishes .The golden hues of floral diyas reflected in the river Ganges present the most enchanting sight.