What is the origin of holy river Ganga?

For thousands of years Ganga has been pivotal in the economic, social and religious life of the people. It is considered as a Goddess and mother in Hindu tradition. Some people believe that the water of Ganges can cure ailments. But do you know from where the sacred River Ganga originates? Let us find out through this article.
What is the origin of holy river Ganga?
What is the origin of holy river Ganga?

The Ganges is one of the major rivers of the Indian subcontinent which flows from the east through the Gangetic Plain of northern India into Bangladesh. The river rises around 2,510 km in the western Himalayas in the Uttarakhand state of India and drains into the Sunderbans delta in the Bay of Bengal. Do you know that it is considered the longest holy river by Hindus and worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism? 

Historically also it is important as many former provincial or imperial capitals like Patliputra, Allahabad, Kannauj, Murshidabad, Calcutta, etc. have been located on its banks. The basins of Ganga drain around 1,000,000 square kilometres and support one of the world's highest densities of humans. Let us study more about Ganga River and from which place it is originated.

What is the origin of holy river Ganga?

The Ganga is the river of Asia that rises in the western Himalayas and flows through India and Bangladesh. When it enters West Bengal, it splits into the Padma and the Hooghly. The Padma River goes through Bangladesh and finally into the Bay of Bengal. The Hooghly River goes through various districts of West Bengal and finally flows into the Bay of Bengal.

No doubt Ganga is considered a central part of Indian tradition, life and culture. It is included in the four largest rivers of India. These four rivers are Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganga and Godavari. River Ganga is the world's third-largest river on the basis of discharge of water and considered as most sacred.

The Bhagirathi River is a Himalayan River which flows in Uttarakhand state. It is one of the two headstreams of the pious Ganga River. Its length is 205 km and has a basin of 6,921 sq km. It is believed that Bhagirathi River is the source Stream of Ganga River. It originates from Gaumukh, which is located at the base of Gangotri and Khatilang glaciers in Uttarakhand. Gaumukh is about 18 km from the town of Gangotri and regarded as the birthplace of Ganga on earth. At Gangotri, there is a Ganga temple which is famous as Chota Char Dham temple in Garwhal.

The name of Bhagirathi is named after the ancient king Bhagirath, who performed penance to bring her down from the heavens. It is believed that bathing in this water brings deliverance from sins committed in the present and past births. Do you know that during winters when the Temple is closed due to the heavy snowfall, the idol of the Goddess is kept at the Mukhab village near Harsil?

Indus Water Treaty (IWT): Water-Sharing Agreement

The highest point of the Bhagirathi basin is Chaukhamba. The famous Tehri Dam lies at the confluence of Bhagirathi and Bhilangna River near Tehri Garhwal. The operational hydroelectric dams on Bhagirathi River are Maneri Damn, Joshiyara (Bhali) Dam, Koteshwar Dam and Tehri Dam. River Bhagirathi starts its journey at Gaumukh and then is joined by tributaries such as – Kedar Ganga, Jadh Ganga, Kakora Gad, Jalandari Gad, Siyan Gad, Asi Ganganear and Bhilangana.

Bhagirathi ends its journey when it forms a union with Alaknanda to create Ganga at Devprayag. Therefore, we can say that sacred Ganga is a confluence of rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda.
The Ganges joins the Himalayan Rivers like Yamuna, Ghaghra, Gandak and Kosi rivers. The Yamuna River originates from the Yamunotri glacier, but it merged with the river Ganga at Allahabad. The main tributaries of the peninsular suburbs are Chambal, Betwa and Son.

According to Hindu mythology, if a person breathes their last in Varanasi and cremated at the banks of the Ganges, they will attain salvation. It is also believed that if a person dies somewhere else and their ashes can be brought and immersed in the Ganges, the departed soul will attain salvation.

Where is the Gangotri glacier located?

The Gangotri glacier is situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, from where the river Bhagirathi flows and meets the Alaknanda in Devprayag. Ganga is formed after this confluence. Ganga River flows from here and falls into the Bay of Bengal. Gangotri is a pilgrim place for Hindus. There is also a temple dedicated to Ganga.

Let us tell you that Devprayag is situated at an altitude of 830 meters above sea level. Its nearest city is Rishikesh, which is 70 kilometres away. This place is considered to be one of the Panch Prayags of Uttarakhand state.

Do you know how Devprayag's name is formed? There is also an ancient story behind this. We all know that Devprayag is a pilgrimage associated with Lord Shri Ram. According to the ancient legend, in a Sat Yuga, a Brahmin named Dev Sharma had done a very harsh penance then; Lord Vishnu gifted him a boon that this place would be famous with his name in the long run. From then onwards it was started to be called as 'Dev Prayag'.

Tributaries of the Ganges from the north: Yamuna, Ramganga, Karnali (Ghaghra), Tapti, Gandak, Kosi.

Tributaries of the Ganges from the South: Chambal, Son, Betwa, Ken, Southern Tons.

Some more facts about River Ganga

- Do you know that river Ganges is the fifth most polluted river in the world?

- Compared to other rivers, the river Ganga has more than 25% oxygen level.

- It is said that the water of Ganga has a special power to fight with bacteria.

- The water of the Ganges never deteriorates.

- Special research in Delhi's Research Centre has found that mosquitoes cannot be born in Ganga water.

- British laboratory found that if bacteria were mixed in the Ganges water, then all the bacteria will die within 3 hours.

- D.S. Bhargava, University of Environment Engineer Roorkee studied and found that Ganga is the only river in the world that can disintegrate organic waste 15 to 25 times faster than other rivers all over the world.

- Ganga and Brahmaputra are the largest river delta in the world, spread over an area of 59,000 sq. Km.

- In the past few decades, the Ganga has moved up to 500 meters from its original course in Hardwar. Since 1990, in Bihar also some parts of the river have moved back from its original course up to 2.5 km.

Therefore, we can say that the important tributaries of river Ganges are Bhagirathi and Alaknanda. When these two rivers meet in Devprayag, sacred River Ganga is formed and this place is famous as Devprayag Sangam. No doubt this pilgrimage site has its own importance.

Source: Britannica

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