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Green Pilgrimages


Every year, millions of pilgrims of all faiths travel from across India and across the world to visit their holy temples, shrines and sacred places. Many sacred pilgrimage sites lie along the entire length of Ganga. The Char Dham, temples which mark the origin of four of India’s sacred rivers including Ganga and Yamuna, attract thousands of pilgrims each year, who travel long distances into the sacred Himalayas to reach and have darshan of the deities with the temples and the birthplace of the sacred rivers.

However, the increasing traffic of pilgrims each year has not entirely had a good affect on the fragile Himalayan environment and rivers. Due to lack of proper sanitation facilities, lack of solid waste management, and haphazard constructions, the environment is being destroyed and the sacred rivers are being polluted right at their source.

With the idea that the environment leading up to these sacred areas – not just the Char Dham, but all sacred pilgrimage sites – is just as sacred and in need of reverence as the holy places themselves, Ganga Action Parivar is working alongside the Green Pilgrimages Network to “green” not only the temples, mosques, shrines, gurdwaras, churches and other sacred buildings along Ganga, but also to “green” the pilgrimage routes used to reach these places.

Our Aim

  • Developing, renovating and beautifying India’s sacred pilgrimage areas along Ganga and Her tributaries to make them truly “green” pilgrimage destinations, such as the Char Dham
  • In this line, also “greening” the actual routes to reach these sacred areas, with the belief that the environment along the journey to the holy places is just as sacred and just as important to protect as the sacred area itself
  • Includes plans to create solid waste systems, eco-friendly toilets, clean water facilities, relocation of haphazard constructions that encroach on the rivers and the temples, tree plantation programs, and ways to reduce vehicular congestion and pollution

General Updates


19 January, 2013

An important conference between the Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand Dr. Aziz Qureshiji, Pujya Swamiji, distinguished mayors, government officials and Ganga Action Parivar to discuss ways to make the pathways pilgrims tread as clean as the temples they pray in. Also at these meeting, GAP launched the Ganga Tat Pe Ganga Jal Initiative, which will bring Waterlife filtration systems on the banks of Ganga in some of India’s holiest places for pilgrims to access clean drinking water. Click here to read more about this event.

23-24 November, 2012

A Green Pilgrimages Network meeting was organized between GAP, the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the Bhumi Project on how to develop pilgrimages areas into “green” pilgrimage areas, attended by religious leaders, conservationists and civil authorities. Click here to read more about this event.



18 December, 2012

A meeting was held under the leadership of the Hon’ble Minister of Urban Development of Uttarakhand Shri Pritam Panwar Singhji and Pujya Swamiji to discuss how to develop Rishikesh into a model town of sustainable and eco-friendly development, including implementing eco-friendly sanitation, clean drinking water facilities, cow protection programmes and more.

Allahabad, Varanasi and Ayodhya

A “clean and green” initiative in the pilgrimage sites of Ayodhya, Allahabad, and Varanasi are being planned in detail with respective leaders and authorities so that regular clean-ups, trash management, anti-plastic campaigns, sacred Aarti ceremonies (to garner respect for the river) and massive community tree plantations will be carried out in the years to come.


26 February, 2013″

The Hon’ble Minister of Irrigation Shri Shivpal Singhji pledges to build eco-friendly bio-digester toilet blocks in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

26 February, 2013

Famous Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi pledges to build an eco-friendly bio-digester toilet block in Allahabad.

January-February 2013

Throughout the length of the Kumbh Mela, numerous clean-up programs were held to clean trash and other waste from the banks of the Sangam, and trash bins were installed throughout the Kumbh area.

22 August, 2012

A “Clean Prayag, Green Pryag” meeting was held with GAP, local NGOs, institutions and government officials on how to “green” the city of Allahabad and the Prayag area, including planting trees, banning polythene, and adopting portions of the area to take care of. Click here to read more about this event.

Gangotri and the Char Dham Yatra

A complete programme of preserving the local eco-hut culture while at the same time attracting eco-tourism has been proposed by GAP. The proposal includes a “6T’s” approach to clean and green this yatra, so that the thousands of pilgrims travelling to these yatras each year can at least have basic necessities of proper toilets and clean water provided to them.


4 June, 2012

Tree plantation began in Gangotri! Soon, 25,000 will be planted in and around the Gangotri area, restoring the forest that has been lost due to human development and encroachment. Click here to learn about our entire tree plantation work as part of our 3T’s program!

4 June, 2012

Pujya Swamiji met with the local forest officials and planned with them for 25,000 trees to be planted in Gangotri! He also met with the local pandas (the priests in and around the Gangotri Temple) to discuss the new face of Gangotri plan for a clean and green Gangotri, and inspired all to get involved in the cause to restore and protect Ganga, Her tributaries and the environment.


A small town near the river Gomti, which holds great significance to Hindu pilgrims, is now being planned by GAP to carry out massive tree plantation in this town.