Epiconic Travel


The Ganges is the largest and longest river in India with a significant religious significance. The river has its source in the Himalayas and empties out into the Bay of Bengal. Running across more than 1500 miles through some of the most densely populated areas in India, the river has fed and nurtured more than four hundred million people in its journey. 

The Gangotri Glacier of the mighty Himalayas in northern India is the source of this perennial river. It has been serving as the primary source of water for a huge base of population that has been using the water for drinking, irrigation, bathing, and other works. 

Formation of Ganga

Gomukh is the actual terminus of the Gangotri Glacier that gave rise to the massive Ganges River. As the ice from the glacier melts, it forms the Bhagirathi River, which has crystal clear water. 

  • Bhagirathi river flows down the mountains of the Himalayas and merges with the Alaknanda river to form the Ganges River.
  • The Ganges river basin is a part of the greater river basin that has formed surrounding the Meghna and Brahmaputra rivers.
  • The Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna river basin forms the world’s largest river system.
  • All the tributaries of the Ganga, the melting water from the glacier of the Himalayas, and the rainfall are the feeding sources of the river.

The river forms canyons as it enters the plains after leaving the mountains. It is also known as Vishnupadi, Jahnavi, Nikita, Bhagirathi, Sapteshwari, Gange, Shubhra, and Alaknanda. The sacred river is always the mother of the country as the ever-lasting divinity of the waters will continue to be the spiritual backbone of the entire nation.

Ganga: the sacred icon

For the Hindus of the country, River Ganges is the most revered and sacred form of divine touch through natural elements. Goddess Ganga is the spiritual embodiment of the river. The iconography shows the goddess in different forms.

In some mythologies, the Ganga is a beautiful woman who has a white crown on her head. She rides on the Makra, which is again a mythological creature with the tail of a dolphin and the head of a crocodile. The Goddess has either a couple of hands or four. She will be holding different types of objects in her hands, like water Lillies, rosaries, and water pots. That is why most people refer to the river as Ma Ganga or the universal Mother Ganga.

The epitome of purity

If you can forget the water pollution level for a few minutes, you will be able to perceive how the river has become the definition of purity to the people who worship the River Ganges. Hindus believe that the performance of any ritual on the banks of the river or using the holy water from the river will make the ritual successful and will bring good fortune to the people performing the ritual.

In a way, people do believe that the sacred water of the river can wash away the impurities and sins of your life. The demand for “Gangaajal” or the “water of the Ganges” is so high that people buy the bottles from the sellers. According to the stories in the ancient Indian religious Puranas or scriptures, the very sight, touch, and name of the water from the Ganges can wash away sins. If you take a dip in the waters of the river, you are earning heavenly blessings.

Origin as explained in the Mythology

The mythical origin of the river is always a topic that triggers debates. According to some oral traditions, the water of the river gave birth to the people, and the people, in turn, gave rise to the largest river. The mention of the river is present twice in the Rig Veda, which is the first Hindu sacred text.

If you study the Vishnu Purana, you will be fascinated to know how Lord Vishnu used his toe to pierce a hole right through the universe. According to mythology, this hole allowed Goddes Ganga to flow over the lotus feet to the Earth as well as into heaven. As she came in contact with the lotus feet of Vishnu, she is known as Vishnupadi, depicting a descendant from the lotus feet of Vishnu.

And there is another myth, which is actually the most popularly accepted story about the origin of the Ganga. The Goddess Ganga was ready to wreak havoc on the planet in the form of a raging river that seeks revenge on the humans. But Lord Shiva prevented the chaos by catching and restraining Ganga in the tangles of His hair. He released the mighty Ganga in the form of streams that became the final source of the existing River Ganga.

Another version of the story exists where Ganga was the one to believe that she has the duty to nurture and nourish the people below the Himalayas. So she requested Lord Shiva to protect the land from the massive force that will generate from her steep plunge from the heights of the Himalayas into the plains. Thus, Lord Shiva caught her in the tangles of his hair and controlled her power.

Ganga: The lifeline of India

As the river provides water to more than 40% of the population in the country, the Ganges is undoubtedly the lifeline of India. It has been the source of water for the irrigation of plants all across its course. As a result, the Ganga basin has turned out to be the most fertile land, producing huge volumes of crops to feed the increasing number of mouths.

The economy of India, as well as Bangladesh, has grown stronger through agriculture and pisciculture. So the waters of the river are literally holy to the people who depend on the water resource for their professional excellence.

The site for festivals

Do you know how many festivals centering on the Ganges people celebrate each year in the country? For instance, the Ganga Dusserah celebration begins on the 10th day of the Jyestha month, which is usually between the end of May and the beginning of June on the calendar years. It is the festival to celebrate the descent of the holy river from heaven to the Earth. People believe that taking a dip in the Ganga water on this day will not only purify the sins but will also heal physical ailments.

Visit Varanasi any time of the year and you will be mesmerized by the view of Ganga Arati happening every day in the evening to seek blessings from the Goddess. Kumbh Mela is a festival that earned its place on the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Save the waters

Despite the holy tag, it is essential to understand where to limit the use and beliefs about the Holy Ganges to maintain its purity. The rise in the pollution level can disturb the entire ecological balance of Nature.

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