In July 2020 due to incessant rains, a major part of the boundary wall in Haridwar built, in 1935, came crashing. At present, walking along the sacred Har ki Pauri (translates to ‘footsteps of the Lord’) ghat is a visual delight. The two new Swagat Dwars depicting the origins of Mother Ganga through the lens of both Shaivite and Vaishnavite traditions are bound to grab your attention.
Har ki Pauri after natural disaster.Har ki Pauri after natural calamity.Old photograph of Har ki Pauri walls.Present status of Har ki Pauri after beautification.Past photograph of site where L.E.D screen was installed.Photograph of Har ki Pauri wall after placing murals.
Current status of L.E.D. screen at Har ki Pauri
The Har ki Pauri Development Project was undertaken by Sony India and The Art of Living, with guidance and authorisation from Shri Ganga Sabha. And if you spot high-tech LED screens displaying the sacred aarti the credit goes to this project. The requirement had been felt to redevelop and rebuild the place for devotees and pilgrims to have an unforgettable experience in Haridwar.
“The Art of Living’s tremendous experience in social projects and Sony’s technical expertise were both combined to create a team which could execute this project smoothly. Sony India and the Art of Living signed an agreement for this project wherein the responsibilities for execution and approvals were mutually defined,” said Sanjay Bhatnagar, director, CHRO, Sony India Pvt. Ltd.
Since time immemorial the Ganges at Haridwar (gateway to the Lord) holds a special significance in the hearts of Indians and is deeply interwoven with the culture and philosophy of over 1.2 billion Hindus all over the world. Haridwar holds a central place in the Hindu cultural identity and is closely associated with the idea of Moksha.
Haridwar is one of the four sites along with Ujjain, Nashik and Prayagraj, where drops of amrita, the elixir of immortality, accidentally spilt over from a kumbha (pitcher) while being carried by the celestial bird Garuda during the samudra manthan, or churning of the ocean of milk. Brahma Kund, the spot where the nectar fell, is located at Har ki Pauri (literally “footsteps of the Lord”) and is one of the most sacred ghats of Haridwar.
Har ki Pauri, famously known for its Kumbha Mela, holds a record for the maximum number of devotees that congregate together at one place to take a holy dip in the Ganga.
The project aimed at carrying out development and beautification works at the Har ki Pauri ghat for enhancing the experience of devotees and pilgrims visiting every year. It is keeping this centrality and sacredness of Haridwar in mind that the Har ki Pauri Development Project was conceived.
The project scope included:
Two Swagat Dwars, to mark the formal boundary of the ghat while providing the visitor entering the ghat with a first look worthy of the stature of the place and the rich cultural heritage.
LED Screen, to allow the thousands that gather each evening for the divine Ganga aarti a chance to see the proceedings from a distance and hence reduce the overcrowding just in front of the ghat
Murals of the origins of Ganga, depicting the importance of Ganga and Haridwar in both the Shaivite and Vaishavite traditions
A shoe stall, that is befitting the sacred ambience of the place.
Renovation of Shri Ganga Sabha room and installation of BRAVIA OLED television and home theatre.
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living and Bhatnagar dedicated the project to the public formally.
The project was officially inaugurated on 7th April 2022, in a ceremony on the Ghat and the various developments were handed over to Shri Ganga Sabha for them to continue to ensure comfort and seamless experience for the pilgrims and devotees.
Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Pushkar Singh Dhami expressed his gratitude for the project. Dhami said, “Sony India along with Shri Ganga Sabha and The Art of Living has completed a successful project despite the many Covid-19 restrictions. Today, we are honoured to support the Har-Ki-Pauri project by providing the best environment for all pilgrims and devotees.”
In the entire process from ideation to execution, the project traversed through many challenges including a two-year long pandemic, approvals and discussions while looking at an ambitious deadline. The LED Screen was installed at the site and the construction of shoe stalls, both Swagat Dwars, Murals and Shri Ganga Sabha office were completed as per the proposed timeline and were handed over to Shri Ganga Sabha on 10th April 2021 before the commencement of Kumbh Mela 2021.
“A formal ceremony could not be carried out because of the pandemic restrictions at this time but the project was put to work so that the pilgrims coming for the Kumbh Mela could derive the benefits of this endeavour.”