Har-ki-Pairi Ghat

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(GERMANY OUT) India Uttaranchal - Haridwar: prayer at Har-ki-Pauri Ghat, Ganges - 2010 (Photo by Bhattacharya/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

ullstein bild via Getty Images

Har-ki-Pairi (The Footstep of God) is where Vishnu is said to have dropped some divine nectar and left behind a footprint. Every evening, hundreds of worshippers gather for the ganga aarti (river worship ceremony). Officials in blue uniforms collect donations and, as the sun sets, bells ring out a rhythm, torches are lit, and leaf baskets with flower petals inside and a candle on top (₹10) are lit and placed on the river to drift away downstream.

Tourists can mingle with the crowd to experience the rituals of an ancient religion that still retains its power in the modern age. Someone may claim to be a priest and help you with your puja before asking for ₹200 or more. If you want to make a donation, it's best to give to a uniformed collector.

The best time to visit the ghats are just before dusk for ganga aarti; aim to get here an hour before sunset to ensure a good seat to watch the ceremony. To get here walk the length of the ghats starting from one of the bridges close to the train station which will allow you to observe the spiritual fervour of pilgrims who've come far and wide to bathe in the Ganges.