Saturday, 24 December 2011

River Ganga, The holy river

 River Ganga or the Ganges is a major river of the Indian subcontinent, associated in myth and reality with the land and people of India as well as neighboring countries like Bangladesh. In Hinduism, the river Ganga is personified as Goddess and holds an important place in the Hindu religion. In Hindu mythology, it is believed that bathing in the river Ganga causes the remission of sins and facilitates the attainment of salvation or nirvana. This deep-rooted truth is proved by the fact that people travel from distant places to immerse the ashes of their kin in the waters of the Ganga at Varanasi or other places located on the banks of this holy river. Some of these sacred places, located on the Ganga, are Varanasi, Haridwar and Prayag (Allahabad).

The Ganges is a trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. By discharge it ranks among the world's top 20 rivers. The Ganges basin is the most heavily populated river basin in the world, with over 400 million people and a population density of about 1,000 inhabitants per square mile (390 /km2).

The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus and is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. It is worshiped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. It has also been important historically: many former provincial or imperial capitals (such as Patliputra, Kannauj Kara, Kashi, Allahabad, Murshidabad, Munger, Baharampur and Kolkata) have been located on its banks.

The Ganges was ranked among the top five most polluted rivers of the world in 2007, with fecal coliform levels in the river near Varanasi more than hundred times the official Indian government limits. Pollution threatens not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin. The Ganga Action Plan, an environmental initiative to clean up the river, has been a major failure thus far, due to corruption and lack of technical expertise, lack of good environmental planning, Indian traditions and beliefs and lack of support from religious authorities.


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