Named after the Hindu mythical goddess Ganga, the Ganges River is India’s longest and most important river. Born in the Gangotri glacier in the West Himalayan mountain-range in the north Indian State of Uttarakhand, the Ganga River flows 2510 kilometers to the Bay of Bengal located in India’s East. The Hindustan region through which this mighty river flows is the birthplace of powerful civilizations that date to 3rd century B.C. The Ganges River plain is not only the most fertile, but is also India’s most populated region. The Ganges River and its tributaries feeding the growing Indian economy by fostering agro-cultivation, fishing, water sports and tourism with many hotels including The Gateway Hotel Ganges Varanasilocated near the River. India’s National River, the Ganga River is home to the endangered Ganges River Dolphin.
The Ganges River’s close association with Hinduism is centuries-old with its roots lying in ancient Hindu scriptures that recount the close bond between ‘Maa Ganga’ (Mother Ganga) and Lord Shiva. Although a number of sacred Hindu temples and towns can be found along the Ganges River, the most sacred of them all is the historic city of Varanasi, its shores being the favoured Hindu cremation ground. Stay at a nearby Varanasi hotel and watch family members pour the ashes of the deceased into the Ganga River with the belief that its waters will guide the deceased to Pritiloka, the sublime World of Ancestors where they can escape the cycle of rebirth and enter Salvation.
Dubbed the ‘Holiest River in India’ it is believed that a dip in its waters cleanse the soul of its sins. At day break, devout Hindus can be seen on the banks of the revered Ganges River making offerings of food and flowers or floating oil lamps while others chant prayers, collect the River’s water for temple pujas and meditate along the River’s shore. During the Kumbh Mela Festival, an unprecedented number of Hindu devotees flock to the sacred towns of Haridwar and Allahabad along the Ganga River for a gallant display of ritualistic prayer and religious discussion.
Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.