Hundreds of pilgrims will be able to take Ganga dip at a time after a bigger ghat, now under construction, is ready, taking pressure off Har-Ki-Pauri in Haridwar.

Under the Namami Gange plan of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, a 675-metre-long ghat is under construction at Neeldhara beneath the foothills of Mata Chandi Devi shrine. The Rs 52.50-crore project is scheduled to be completed by December, six months ahead of the deadline, officials said.

“Chandighat project under Namami Gange is a landmark project, which will provide a new ghat to pilgrims and kanwariyas during festive occasions,” urban development cabinet minister Madan Kaushik said, expressing satisfaction over the work progress.

After completion, this will be the lone ghat on the mainstream course of the Ganga. Other ghats, including the sanctum sanctorum of Brahamkund at Har-Ki-Pauri, are situated on the Ganga canal.

Pilgrims coming from Kotdwar, Bijnore, Najibabad and Kumaon division will benefit from this project as they will be able to take Ganga dip, just outside the city periphery.

Pilgrims will be able to avoid traffic congestion, parking woes and save time during major festive bathes, such as during Kumbh, as they will not have to stand in queue or wait for hours to reach Har-Ki-Pauri.

“Architecture wise too, Chandighat-Neeldhara project is a unique one in the state, with focus on structures being done in the Vedic-era style,” Kaushik said. “Meditation huts, a toilet block, changing room, water facility, vehicular parking and sewer treatment plant are part of this ambitious project, being built as a river front development.”

A cremation ghat with advanced technology is also being built at Chandighat, which will consume 50pc less wood compared to the normal ones.

Mayor Manoj Garg said, “Neeldhara-Chandighat river front project will be a boon for pilgrims during Mahakumbh-Ardh Kumbh, Kanwar fair and major festive bathes like Makar Sakranti, Baisakhi, Ganga Saptami, Somwati Amawasya, Mauni Amawasya, Buddh Purnima, and Ram Navami. The pilgrims will get state-of-the-art facility at one single ghat.”

Social activist JP Baduni has demanded that Kumbh fair be shifted from Har-Ki-Pauri to Neeldhara. “Owing to restricted space at the sanctum sanctorum, in next Mahakumbh fair it would be a herculean task to manage more than a crore pilgrims at Har-Ki-Pauri during one single day of royal bathe (shahi snaan).”

Former Haridwar legislator Ambrish Kumar said he had also suggested to Kumbh Mela administration about need to shift the mega fair from Har-Ki-Pauri. “There is ample vacant space available outside Neeldhara,” he said.

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