Course of the River Ganges
The sacred Ganga has its origin in the Gangotri glacier of the Himalayan massifs. The holy river flows through the Northern Plains and empties itself finally in the Bay of Bengal. The river where it originates is referred to as Bhagirathi. The Ganga as it flows passes through a number of pilgrimage destinations in its upper reaches as well as when it descends down to the plains of northern India. The river, during its course, passes through the states of Uttaeakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. About 250 miles before it coalesces in the ocean, it gets divided into a number of streams and tributaries.
Pilgrimage Towns along the Ganges
While it flows down from the mountains and descends down to the plains, the Ganges crisscrosses through a number of pilgrimage destinations and towns. In the state of Uttarakhand it flows through world famous pilgrimage destinations including Badrinath, Rishikesh and Haridwar. While crossing the states of Uttar Pardesh in Bihar it cuts its way through the ancient pilgrimage towns of Benares (Varanasi) and Prayag. Prayag, religiously known as the Triveni Sangam, is the place where the Ganges meets the River Yamuna. The ghats of Varanasi hold strong significance to the Hindu community.
Legends Associated with the Ganga
How did Ganga originate, according to the Hindu mythology? Hindus believe that the sacred river came into being when Brahma washed the feet of Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Vamana. According to legend, it was Bhagirata, who through his self-mortification, brought river Ganga down to earth. It was done with a view to purify the mortal remains of his ancestors. The earth in the beginning, it is believed, was unable to bear the force of this river. Seeing this the Gods pleaded Shiva to bear it on his matted locks. Thus, Shiva bore its force and brought down its energy. There are a number of other legends that narrate how River Ganges was originated.
The Ganges is also an ultimate destination for river rafting lovers. River Rafting in Rishikesh is a favourite of both novices as well as adrenaline junkies. Rafting along the Ganges soaking up wonderful scenes on both sides of the river is an exciting experience for travellers. It is something never to be missed as one negotiates with the swift river currents and floats past terraced hillsides.