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
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.
Ganga River Rafting
River Rafting in the Ganges
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.