River of Life- Ganga

Ganga river

History of Ganga River

The Ganges is one of the major rivers of the Indian subcontinent, flowing east through the Gangetic Plain of northern India into Bangladesh. The 2,510 km (1,560 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Uttarakhand state of India, and drains into the Sunderbans delta in the Bay of Bengal. It has long been considered a holy river by Hindus and worshiped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. It has also been important historically: many former provincial or imperial capitals (such as Patliputra, Kannauj, Kara,Allahabad, Murshidabad,and Calcutta) have been located on its banks. The Ganges Basin drains 1,000,000-square-kilometre (390,000 sq mi) and 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, 100 feet (30 m). The river has been declared as India`s National River. The many symbolic meanings of the river on the Indian subcontinent were spoken to in 1946 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. Although many small streams comprise the headwaters of the Ganges, the six longest headstreams and their five confluences are given both cultural and geographical emphasis (see the map showing the headwaters of the river). The Alaknanda River meets the Dhauliganga River at Vishnuprayag, the Nandakini River at Nandprayag, the Pindar River at Karnaprayag, and the Mandakini River at Rudraprayag and finally the Bhagirathi River at Devprayag, to form the mainstream, the Ganges. The Bhagirathi is the source stream; it rises at the foot of Gangotri Glacier, at Gaumukh, at an elevation of 3,892 m (12,769 ft). The headwaters of the Alaknanda are formed by snowmelt from such peaks as Nanda Devi, Trisul, and Kamet.

The Ganges is a major river in the Indian subcontinent flowing east through the immeasurable plains of northern India into Bangladesh. The 2,510 km or 1,557 mi river originates at the Gangotri Glacier in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, in the central Himalayas, and empties into the Bay of Bengal through its vast delta in the Sunderbans. It has enjoyed a state of admiration among India`s Hindus, by whom it is worshipped in its incarnated form as the goddess Ganga. The river Ganges flows through India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The major cities along the River Ganges are Haridwar, Moradabad, Rampur, Allahabad, Kanpur, Patna,Varanasi and Raj Shahi. The Ganges Delta is at the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh.

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 Kanpur, Soron, Kannauj, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Ghazipur, Bhagalpur, Mirzapur, Ballia, Buxar, Saidpur, and Chunar. 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 Bhagirathi-Hooghly, which goes on to form theHooghly 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. The Ganges and its tributaries drain an enormous area about one million square kilometres. The Ganges drains the fertile basin and supports one of the world`s highest-density human populations. Almost half of the population of India lives on one-third of the landscape within 500 km of the Himalayan range along the Gangetic plains and depends on the River Ganges.

During the early Vedic Ages, the Indus and the Saraswati River were the chief rivers, not the Ganges. But later, the three Vedas seem to give much more significance to the Ganges, as shown by its plentiful references. Possibly the first Westerner to mention the name of Ganges was Megasthenese.

Ganges descended to the Earth through the lock of hair (Jata) of god Shiva to make whole earth pious, fertile and wash out the sins of humans










According to Hindu religion a very famous king Bhagiratha did tapasya for many years constantly to bring the river Ganges, then residing in the Heavens, down on the Earth to find salvation for his ancestors, who were cursed by a seer. Therefore, Ganges descended to the Earth through the lock of hair (Jata) of god Shiva to make whole earth pious, fertile and wash out the sins of humans. For Hindus in India, the Ganges is not just a river but a mother, a goddess, a tradition, a culture and much more.

Ganga River is also said to be the river of supreme Lord Rama and also called “Ram Ganga” as there is a belief Lord Rama promised while Ganges emerged from his feet that, when He will appear on earth as Lord Rama will reside on the banks of Ganga and her tributaries. Lord Ram then appeared in Ayodhya which is on the banks of Saryu Ganga River, when he went to Janakpuri he crossed River Ganga in Haridwar. During his 14 years exile from Sita, his wife and brother Lakshmanaafter leaving Ayodhya his first night stay was at Tamsa River (Ganga tributaries), his second stay was at Shrungverpur which is on the banks of Ganga and with the help of Nishadraj Gruh and Kevat he crossed Ganga, he then went to Triveni sangam, Prayag Raj stayed with Muni Bharadvaj and then marched towards Chitrakoot and stayed there for 11 and half years on Kamadgiri parvat on the banks of Mandakini, holy stream. From there he went to Panchvati and stayed on the bank of Godavari until his wife sitaji was abducted by demon king Ravana. The search for his beloved wife Sita, Lord Rama went to Rameshwaram, as it is said all rivers meet the ocean.

Some Hindus also believe life is incomplete without taking a bath in Ganges at least once in their lives. Many Hindu families keep a vial of water from the Ganges in their house. This is done because it is prestigious to have water of the Holy Ganges in the house, and also so that if someone is dying, that person will be able to drink its water. Hindus also believe that the water from the Ganges cleanses a person`s soul of all past sins, and that it can also cure the ill.

Source: http://ganga-river.blogspot.in

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