Yamuna Ghat – New Delhi, India - Atlas Obscura
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New Delhi, India

Yamuna Ghat

Ancient traditions and surreal birdwatching come into sharp relief along one of the world's most polluted rivers.  

Ghats—a series of steps leading down to water—are a common sight across India. For thousands of years, people have used them to enter various bodies of water in order to bathe or release the ashes of loved ones. Yamuna Ghat is one such place.

Situated near a cremation ground in a historic part of Delhi along one of India’s most sacred rivers, Yamuna Ghat continues to be in use today. At dawn, the ghat is the site of a majestic gathering of hundreds of seagulls flocking to feed.

The reflection of the birds on the still water blended with the colors of the sunrise combine to create a breathtaking scene. Just across from the ghat is an island of untouched marshland that renders Delhi as it was hundreds of years ago, lush and misty.

Though it is a sacred body of water on the Indian subcontinent, the Yamuna River is also among the dirtiest rivers in the world. Fortunately, the outer beauty of this refuge masks the unfathomable amount of sewage that lurks just beneath the water’s surface.  

Know Before You Go

The ghat can be accessed by its Google Maps location. It's located in a residential neighborhood, so if you get lost any local will be able to point you in the right direction. It is best to visit at dawn when the seagulls come to feed. There will normally be a few boat drivers waiting there that will charge a small amount (around 50 rupees) to ferry you across the water and back.

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