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Blissful Facts About the Ganges River That Will Astound You

Ganges River Facts
The river Ganges is considered to be the holiest river in India. Here are some interesting facts about the Ganges, its origin, and the mythology behind its flow.
Marlene Alphonse
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
"The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India's age-long culture and civilization, ever changing, ever flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga." ~ 'Discovery of India' by Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India

India is a land of many rivers, one such being the river Ganges. River Ganges or Ganga, as the river is popularly known in India by its Hindu name, is considered a sacred river by the people of India. Being the greatest waterways in India, it is also one of the longest rivers in the world. There are many popular beliefs and interesting facts surrounding the river Ganges, which can be perused in the following paragraphs.
Ganges River History
Ganges River History
There are many legends and myths in Hindu mythology associated with the river Ganges. The Ganga was considered to be a goddess in ancient texts of the Vedas and Puranas. The Ramayana and Mahabharata tell stories about the descent of the Ganga in different ways. It is believed that Ganga descended from the heaven and is invoked in the religious books for graces to be bestowed. There are many versions about the descent of the Ganga, that is narrated as a tradition.
According to a popular myth in Hindu mythology, the river Ganga was the daughter of the mountain god Himalaya. Another myth is that, the Ganges was to go to heaven to soothe the wrath of the gods with its waters. In the Hindu mythology, there is one more story told about the descent of the river Ganges. King Bhagiratha performed penance to find salvation for the souls of his ancestors who were cursed by a sage. In order to bring down the river Ganges from heaven, he offered prayers to Lord Shiva and his prayers were granted. The river Ganges came down from heaven through the matted hair of Lord Shiva to purify the Earth and wash away the sins of mankind.
The banks of the sacred river of India, which has a spiritual significance, is one of the most densely populated regions, in the country. Not only used for irrigation, crops like rice, oilseed, cotton, sugarcane, grains, etc. are grown on the river's fertile plains. Given below are some more Ganges river facts.
The Ganga originates from a glacier called Gangotri (this is where the river got its name from), at Gaumukh (cow face) in the Himalayas, which is situated approximately 14,000 feet above sea level. The melting of the glacier supplies water to the Ganga, all round the year, making it a perennial river.
The two tributaries Alaknanda and Bhagirathi, conjoin to form the river Ganges. Being the longest river in India, the river Ganges is approximately 2506 kilometers (1557 miles) long. The major route of the river is in India, with a lesser part flowing through Bangladesh before entering the Bay of Bengal. This river is referred to as Padma, in Bangladesh. The Padma is joined by the Jamuna and Meghna rivers (the largest and second largest, respectively, distributaries of the Brahmaputra).

The largest delta in the world, the Ganges delta, is formed at the confluence of the rivers Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra. The total area of this delta is around 59,000 sq. km (23,000 sq mi). Also known as the Sunderbans, it stretches approximately 322 km, along the Bay of Bengal. This delta is home to royal Bengal tigers.

The plains on the banks of this river are very fertile and one of the most densely populated areas, with half of India's population living and depending on the banks of Ganges. Crops like legumes, chillies, mustard, sesame, sugarcane, and jute are grown on the banks. There is also a variety of fish, which are source of food for the people living in the plains. Since ancient times, the river and its tributaries are also a source of irrigation to the entire area.

There are a number of species of flora and fauna found along the basin and in the river. The upper Gangetic plain is the habitat of wild animals like boars, foxes, wolves, Indian lions, rhinoceros, sloth bears, deer and jackals etc. Birds like crows, partridges, mynas, kites and fowls, can also be found here.

Additionally, the large Indian civet and smooth-coated otter can also be found in the lower Gangetic plains. The river is also a habitat to the mugger crocodile, gharial and the Ganges river dolphin. The dolphin is facing a threat of extinction, owing to pollution, encroachment and construction of dams.
Rishikesh, india
Haridwar, Varanasi, Allahabad and Rishikesh are the centers of pilgrimage situated on the banks of this river. It is a popular practice among Hindus to immerse the cremated remains of an individual in the Ganges, that will help the soul attain 'moksh' or salvation. It is also believed that the water from the Ganges has healing properties and can cure even the deadliest of diseases.
Maha Kumbh Mela
Maha Kumbh Mela
The Kumbh Mela, a major religious event, is celebrated on the banks of this holy river. There is a popularly-held belief among Hindus surrounding the importance of this pilgrimage. Bathing in the Ganga is believed to purify sins. This mass pilgrimage is held at four different venues, namely Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. The Maha Kumbh Mela, which is held after 12 years, is celebrated near the Sangam at Prayag, Allahabad.
Pilgrims from all over the country, attend this religious event in huge numbers. This was a brief glimpse of Ganges river facts. Though the Ganges has become polluted, it still remains a religious icon of the world. People, especially Hindus, across the globe make it a point to pay a visit to India to get a glimpse of this sacred river and wash off their sins.