Ganges is the holiest river in India. It originates from a Glacier named Gangotri in Uttranchal. The ancient Name of the river was Bhagirathi. It is believed that Bhagirath brought Ganges to earth and thus was named after him. Near Deoprayag Ganges join another river named Alaknanda and forms Ganga. Ganga then flows across the plains of Northern India, these plains are also known as Gangetic Plains. Then Ganga submerges into its last destination, Bay of Bengal. The Hoogli River in Kolkata is one of the distributaries of Ganga. The Padma River that enters Bangladesh from India is the other major distributaries of Ganga. The total length of the river is about 2,510 km (1,560 miles). One of the densest human population belts on earth is built around the Ganges.
The legends say that Brahma Ji created Ganga by collecting sweat from Vishnu Ji’s feet. After being touched by two of the Tridevs (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh), Ganga became the holiest River in India. In Hinduism the Goddess Ganga is the mother of Kartikeya. Most of the holy places of India lie on the banks of the River Ganga. It is believed that a dip in Ganga washes away all the sins of the people. Most of the household in India keep a jar or bottle full of Ganga Water known as “Ganga Jal” and use in all the religious functions and ceremonies.
The many symbolic meanings of the river were spoken to by Jawaharlal Nehru in his Discovery of India,
“The Ganges, above all is the river of India, which has held India’s heart captive and drawn uncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history. The story of the Ganges, from her source to the sea, from old times to new, is the story of India’s civilization and culture, of the rise and fall of empires, of great and proud cities, of adventures of man…”
Some Interesting Facts about Ganges:
- The Bhagirathi is the source stream; it rises at the foot of Gangotri Glacier, at Gaumukh, at an elevation of 3,892 m (12,770 ft). The headwaters of the Alaknanda are formed by snow melt from such peaks as Nanda Devi, Trisul, and Kamet.
- The Alaknanda river meets the Dhauliganga river at Vishnuprayag, the Nandakini river at Nandprayag, the Pindar river at Karnaprayag, the Mandakini river at Rudraprayag and finally the Bhagirathi river at Devprayag, to form the mainstem, the Ganges.
- Ganga and its tributaries drain a 1,000,000-square-kilometre (390,000 sq mi) fertile basin that supports one of the world’s highest densities of humans. The average depth of the river is 52 feet (16 m), and the maximum depth is 100 feet (30 m).
- After flowing 200 km through its narrow Himalayan valley, the Ganges debouches on the Gangetic Plain at the pilgrimage town of Haridwar.
- Further, the river follows an 800 km curving course passing through the city of Kanpur before being joined from the southwest by the Yamuna at Allahabad.
- Joined by numerous rivers such as the Kosi, Son, Gandaki and Ghaghra, the Ganges forms a formidable current in the stretch between Allahabad and Malda in West Bengal.
- On its way it passes the towns of Mirzapur, Buxar , Varanasi, Patna and Bhagalpur. At Bhagalpur, the river meanders past the Rajmahal Hills, and begins to run south.
- At Pakur, the river begins its attrition with the branching away of its first distributary, the Bhāgirathi – Hooghly, which goes on to form the Hooghly River. Near the border with Bangladesh the Farakka Barrage, built in 1974, controls the flow of the Ganges, diverting some of the water into a feeder canal linking the Hooghly to keep it relatively silt-free.
- Fanning out into the 350 km wide Ganges Delta, it finally empties into the Bay of Bengal.
- Only two rivers, the Amazon and the Congo, have greater discharge than the combined flow of the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Surma-Meghna river system.
Ganga has always been known for its significance as a holy river of India but it is also an ultimate adventure destination as far as river rafting in India is concerned. The magic of white water rafting on the Ganges, the adrenaline rush with the thrill of negotiating speedy river currents or just gently floating past terraced hillsides and forest is one experience you wouldn’t like to miss.