Saturday, 6 July 2013


Ganga the sacred and major river of India, It flows all the way(2510km) from northern India to eastern India and then into Bangladesh. It raised from western Himalayas of Uttarkhand state and drains into the sunderbans delta in Bay of Bengal and in total covers 3 countries including Nepal. The streams are formed due to the melting snow and ice from glaciers and peaks such as Nanda Devi and Kamat peak. 

This river also have a great significance in the Hindu Mythology. Hindus worship it as Goddess Ganga wife of Lord Maha Shiva.We can see the temples of Shiva near all the sacred banks of ganga river. It is the national river of India.

Ganges begin at the confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers. The Bhagirathi is considered to be the true source as per the Hindu mythology, although Alaknanda is longer. Bhagirathi raises at the foot of the Gangotri glacier at goumukh(Cow mouth) at an elevation of 3892m. This holy city is known as Char Dham. 

Although there are many small streams of the mother ganges only six longest and their five confluences are considered sacred. They are Alaknanda, Dhauliganga, Nandakini, Pindar, Mandakini and Bhagirathi rivers. 

The five confluences are known as Panch prayag. They are

Vishnu prayag :- Dhauliganga joins the Alaknanda river in this location
Nanda Prayag  :- Nandakini joins the Alaknanda river in this location
Karna Prayag   :-  Pindar joins the Alaknanda river in this location
Rudra Prayag   :-  Mandakini joins the Alaknanda river in this location
Deva Prayag    :-   Bhagirathi joins the Alaknanda river in this location

It is formed as the proper ganges river in the Deva Prayag. It flows for about 250kms through narrow Himalayan valley, the ganges emerges from the mountains at Rishikesh then debouches onto the Gangetic plain at Haridwar. The ganges joins the Yamuna at triveni sangam at Allahabad, known as the sacred confluence to Hindus. From Bhagalpur, the river flows to south east and becomes Hooghly River at the confluence of Bhagirathi and Jalangi at nabadwip.

The religious significance of Ganga River is established at the origin itself. The Gangotri is the spot of origin of River Ganges. Many pilgrimages for the Hindus are settled along the banks of River Ganges. The Hindus religiously worship the river. Situated on the banks of River Ganges, Varanasi is considered by some to be the most holy city in Hinduism. Haridwar and Allahabad or prayag are also on the banks of Ganga. These Two Cities are famous for Kumbh Mela festival. Kumbh Mela is one of the worlds largest human gathering on planet Earth. Kumbh Mela is celebrated for every 12 years on the banks of triveni sangam- the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.

People travel from distant places to immerse the ashes of their kin in the waters of the Ganga; this immersion also is believed to send the ashes to heaven. Several places sacred to Hindus lie along the banks of the river Ganga, including, Haridwar and Kashi. People carry sacred water from the Ganges that is sealed in copper pots after making the pilgrimage to Kashi. It is believed that drinking water from the Ganga at one's deathbed enables him or her to attain salvation.


The Ganga is mentioned in the Rig-Veda, the earliest of the Hindu scriptures. The Ganga is mentioned in the nadistuti (Rig Veda 10.75), which lists the rivers from east to west.During the early Indo-Aryan Ages, the Indus and the Saraswati were the major rivers, not the Ganga. But the later three Vedas seem to give much more  importance to the Ganga, as shown by its numerous references. According to the Hindu Purans, Goddess Ganga used to exist only in Heaven. Then prince Bhagirath worshipped Ganga to descend on earth. This is why Ganga is also known as Bhagirathi. In the Mahabharath this story is also mentioned. In fact, Ganga is a major character in the Mahabharath, where she is the mother of Bhisma.

Myth Behind the Sacred river Ganga:-

Bhagiratha Prayatnam:-

Once there lived a king Sagara. He chose to perform Ashwamedha yagna and sends his horse with his royal servants. After few days they miss the horse when king asks his 60,000 sons to track the horse. The sons of the king rage across the country and finally reaches the pathaalalok(underworld) where Sage kapila Ashram exists. They find the horse tied up there and attacks the sage without knowing the fact that it was done so by Lord Indra. Sage opens his eyes turning the princess into ashes.

To bring salvation to their ancestors with the request of king sagara, Anshuman, Dilip and Bhageeratha tries to complete the task in different generations. Bhageeratha is the last one who takes the vow and completed the task for his ancestors.

King Bhagiratha takes the vow and starts tapasya praying to lord Brahma for about 1000 years and Lord brahma getting pleased appears and asks for the wish. He asks him to release the river ganges down to earth from his kamandal so that he may perform the ceremony for his ancestors. Lord Brahma says that the earth cannot tolerate the extreme velocity of Ganga when it steps on it and also tells him to pray for Lord Shiva the only person who can bear her. King Bhagiratha starts tapasya for Lord shiva and after years of time Shiva appears and accepts his wish of bearing ganga on his head. 

Bhagiratha again prays for Goddess ganga and she descends down to earth with lots of velocity and even tries to move maha shiva, when mighty lord gets anger and locks her in his hair( Jata). 

Bhagiratha again prays Lord Shiva for releasing goddess ganga from his Jata when Mighty lord releases a stream. 

Bhagiratha thanks the god for his mercy and asks Goddess Ganga to follow him to the underworld while on the way she drowns the ashram of sage Jahna when he in anger drinks away all the water of Ganga. Bhagiratha prays to him for having mercy on him and pleased sage releases it from his ear and hence the name Jahnavi has come to the river ganga. Goddess follow the king to paathalalok and finally gives salvation to the ancestors of the suryavanshi Bhagiratha. 

As the effort to bring ganga is a difficult achievement, ganga is also known as Bhagirathi and the effort is remembered forever as Bhagiratha Prayatnam. It is believed that a dip in the sacred river takes away all the sins of entire human life. Hence Hindus in a life time wish to visit the sacred river atleast once.


  1. Such a nice article..! Gud & informative..:-)

  2. It is one of the story told by mom ..dear sis