“Throwing her head in a swirl of ice spray, in pride and defiance creeping round lovingly some favoured rock to rush down joyously over the boulders hurling herself with a mighty shout over some great precipice…smiling and dancing in the morning sunlight and dark and gloomy and full of mysteries in the evening shadow, a narrow, slow and graceful stream in the winter, vast and roaring during the monsoon.”- Jawaharlal Nehru.
The Ganga is the most sacred river of the earth. The influence of the Ganga on India’s religious and cultural life is immense. From time immemorial people of this subcontinent have worshipped the river. River Ganga holds in its swirling currents the fate of several million Hindu souls.As the belief goes, a holy dip into the Ganga can wash a Hindu’s sins and possibly attainment of moksha.
Economic activities of the vast Indo-Gangetic plains are in many ways dependent on the Ganga. The river has a big place both in Hindu mythology and literature reflecting the culture and heritage of India from ancient times.
Self cleaning capacity of Ganga
Ganga is regarded by the Hindus as benign, the river of health, children and other prosperity, The purifier from the pollution of sin. It is said that the Ganga has a unique capability to kill harmful bacteria, since almost 70 percent of the harmful bacteria in the Ganga are killed within 24 hours, as compared to the other rivers. The Ganga was gifted with scientifically proven curative powers, since the radon content in the river waters had given it a remarkable germicidal quality in the Ganga water.
Rather a lot of disgusting things bobble about in the river here within inches of bathers who will assure you that some chemical property in this holy water does not allow germs to survive. And it is a fact that although all the great cholera epidemics of India, which have sometimes spread to Europe and North America, have started i n Bengal and been borne up the Ganges by piligrims, no form of sickness has yet been knowm to travel any distance downstream. A peculiar fact is the quick death, in three or five hours, of the cholera vibrio in the waters of the Ganges.
Besides the bathing at the auspicious moments prescribed by the Brahmins, a special ritual of the Hindu is the shaving of the piligrim and dedication of his hair-the devotee believes that physical bond between him and the Ganga deity is reinforced. After bathing, the attendant priest prays and pours offerings into the river. At this time, if a worshipper places ten kinds of fruits on his head and immerses himself in the river, the sins of ten births will be removed.
Course of Ganga (complete)
The river Ganga with its length of 2,525 kms makes it themightiest river in the world. The Ganga for most of its course flows through the three states: Uttar Pradesh (U.P.), Bihar and West Bengal; although its large delta in the Bengal area, lies mostly in Bangladesh. The Ganga and its tributaries flow through some of the most populous states- Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and it covers an area of 8,61,404 sq. km. This vast basin has been further divided into nine sub basins, the largest being the Yamuna Basin with a drainage area of 2,65,755 sq. km.
Plunging from an altitude of almost thirteen thousand feet, and collecting other mountain streams while passing through Garhwal, the Ganga eventually emerges in one copious flow on to the plains near Hardwar. Turning in a south-eastward direction, the Ganga then travels fifteen hundred miles through a vast catchment area.
After meandering past hundred miles, the Ganga approaches the end of its long journey. In Bengal, it fans out through twenty-eight thousand square miles of fertile deltas, criss-crossed by numerous distributary rivers. The whole delta is known as the Sunderbans and is covered with dense forests.