Perennial rivers like the Ganges (or Ganga) have been held in high regard by the Hindus in India.. The sacred river originates in an ice cave in the Himalayas around 10,300 ft above sea level. There exists an intimate relationship between nature and the basis of the Indian system of beliefs. The Ganges (or the Ganga) is a religious icon and the source of all the spiritualism in India. The divine river find its mention in all the sacred scriptures of the Hindus including the Vedas, the Puranas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Several interesting legends are associated with the Ganga, as per the Hindu mythology. It is along the Ganges that one can witness some of the most surreal scenes relating to Hindu customs and traditions. If you are looking for a living lesson on Hinduism, you need to get to the ghats and towns that are located along the banks of this revered river.
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
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,
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
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