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Ganga River

 The Ganga, otherwise known as the Ganges is 2nd largest river by discharge in Indian subcontinent. This river got    its name after the Hindu Goddess, Ganga. Mythologists, Historians and Geographists declare Ganges as the center point of Indian living, tradition and culture.

The Indian Government declared this Ganges running between Haldia and Allahabad as National Waterway Number one. Along the banks of this river there are various industrial towns like Kolkata, Baharampur, Murshidabad, Allahabad, Kara, Kannauj and Patliputra.  This river basin delivers 390,000 sq miles (1, 000, 000 of water and thereby supports world’s largest density of human population. This river comes with maximum depth of about 33 m (100 feet) whereas the average depth is about 17 m (52 feet).


At the time of early Vedic era, the rivers Saraswati and Indus were considered to be the major ones in Indian subcontinent. Later on, the three other Vedas gave significant importance to River Ganges. This can be seen in various references. Megasthenes (ca. 350 t0 290 BCE), the 1st European traveller has mentioned Ganges river. In the year 1651, Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and Piazza Navona in Rome. This art symbolized the great four rivers in the world (Rio de la Plata, the Danube, the Nile and the Ganges) in order to represent four continents (Antartica and Australia was not known at that time).


Ganges starts from the Gangotri Glacier that is situated at Garhwal region of Himalayas. This River flows all the way through northern states of India and drains into Bay of Bengal in the eastern region. The total length covered by this river is approximately 3,877 km. the watershed of this river is about 907,000 sq. km broad. River Son, Yamuna, River Ghaghra, Gandak, River Kosi and Brahmaputra are the significant rivers that flow into this Ganges.

This river runs approximately 200 km through Himalayas. It comes to plain surface in the place called Rishikesh, close to Haridwar in Indian State Uttarakhand. Later on, this river passes through Chunar, Saidpur, Buxar, Ballia, Mirzapur, Bhagalpur, Ghazipur, Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kannauj, Soron and Kanpur. It merges with River Yamuna at Allahabad. This river partition itself into 2 distributaries in the name of main stream and Bhagirathi – Hooghly at Pakur. Bhagirathi – Hooghly  then becomes the River Hooghly. Main stream of Ganges then enters into Bangladesh. At the entrance of Bangladesh, this Ganges is controlled by Farakka Barrage that diverts the water from Ganges into Feeder Canal that is linked in turn with River Hooghly to maintain it free from silt.


The River Ganges is considered to be sacred and worshipped in the form of Goddess Ganga. This Ganga together with its tributaries deliver large quantity of water to huge volume of fertile land which might be approximately of about 1 million sq. km. There are various tributaries to River Ganges which are:

Yamuna River

River Yamuna is otherwise called as Jumna is one among the major rivers in north India. The total length of this river is about 855 miles (1,376 km). The source of this river is Yamunotri glacier, close to Banderpoonch peak, in Mussourie range of lower Himalayas in Uttarakashi. This spot is situated at the height of about 6387 meters from the sea level. Yamuna flows towards southern direction all the way through Himalayan foothills and lengthy series of large valleys covering 200 km along the border of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. At this juncture, the Western and Eastern Yamuna canals are supported by this river.

Son River

The Son River is one among the largest tributaries of River Ganges that flows towards the southern direction.  This River is originated at Chhattisgarh towards the eastern direction of origin of River Narmada. This river then flows in north-northwest direction all the way through Madhya Pradesh and later on turns towards eastern direction where it comes across Kaimur range. From here, it flows almost parallel to Kaimur range towards the east – northeast direction running along Uttar Pradesh and joins River Ganges just before Patna in Bihar.

Mahananda River

This River is the biggest confluent of Ganges in east direction of India. This river is originated from the Darjeeling hills from the northern direction of West Bengal. Later on, it flows towards southern direction along the fertile vegetation land in Bihar. Later on, it enters into West Bengal. This River then flows towards southeast direction and enters into Bangladesh.

Kosi River

This is one of the significant Bihar Rivers and notable tributary of Ganges that originate from Himalayas. Together with its tributaries, this river flows along various regions of Tibet together with the region of Mount Everest and about 1/3 rd of east portion of Nepal. In the last 200 years, this river has changed its direction from east towards west covering approximately 120 km.

Gandak River

This River is also known as River Kali Gandaki. Once it merges with Trisuli, it is known as Narayani in Nepal. This river is one of the tributaries of River Ganges or Ganga. This is one among the significant rivers in India and Nepal. In India, it is a northern bank tributary to River Ganga. In Tibet, this river rises at the height of about 7620 m close to Nepal border from where it overlooks Dhaulagiri. This river is well known for its flow across deep gorge which in turn generates hydroelectric power in Nepal. At Valmikinagar, this river acts as major source of hydroelectric facility and irrigation possibility. The complete catchment area of this river is about 46,300 of which 7620 lies in India. Ancient epic in India, the Mahabharatha mentioned about this river.

Ghaghara River

River Ghaghara is also known as Ghagra or Gogra in India and Karnali or Manchu or Kauriala in Nepal. This name means that it is the holy water coming from sacred mountains. Karnali refers to Turquoise River. This is the perennial river originated from Tibetan plateau and runs across boundaries. Karnali is also known as Kung Chiao Ho. Close to Manasarowar this river pass along Himalayas that lies in Nepal and enters into India to merge with River Sarda to form River Ghaghara at Brahmaghat, India. This River is the significant left tributary of River Ganges. This is one among the largest Ganges affluent and is also the largest and longest river with length of approximately 507 km in the country of Nepal.

Mahakali River

Mahakali River flows on the border region of India and Nepal. Being originated from Kalapaani region of Greater Himalayas, this river becomes an international border in western direction. In Uttarakhand, this river runs down the height of approximately 3600 metres in the district of Pithoragarh. At Jauljibi, it merges with Gori Ganga. At Pancheshwar, it again merges with River Saryu. The area surrounding Pancheshwar is known as Kali Kumaon.   Mansarovar Trek – Kailash Lake lies close to Kalapani and this is the place where meditation was carried out by Great Sage Vyasa and hence it got its name Vyasa valley. The name was given after Goddess Kali for her temple at Kalapaani situated close to Lipu – Lekh pass between Tibet and India.

Religious Significance

In Hinduism

River Ganges is considered in Indian Culture and tradition, a Goddess and a mother by Hindus. In Hindu religion, it is known to be holy to dip in Ganges by taking a holy trip. This in turn results in increasing pollution which ultimately leads to increased number of death. Taking a dip in Ganga is considered to purify all the past sins and also cure various illnesses. There are Hindu families who keep this Ganga water in their home for purity. Thousands of pilgrims throng Kanpur, Allahabad and Haridwar to take a dip in holy Ganges.

Legend of Bhagirath

Hindu Puranas depict that Bhagiratha King went on Tapasya for several years in order to get Ganges River from heavens. Bhagirath was interested to cure the curse of his ancestors through these Ganges. So the Ganges came to earth to make this land fertile and free from all sort of human sins.

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