Physical Characteristics of Ganga River
The Ganges Basin drains 1,000,000-square-kilometre (390,000 sq mi) and supports one of the world's highest densities of humans. The average depth of the river is 52 feet (16 m), and the maximum depth is 100 feet (30 m). Many symbolic meanings of the river on the Indian subcontinent were mentioned in 1946 by Jawaharlal Nehru in his Discovery of India.
Geographical Importance of Ganges River
Joined by numerous rivers such as the Kosi, Son, Gandaki and Ghaghra, the Ganges forms a formidable current in the stretch between Allahabad and Malda in West Bengal. On its way it passes the towns of Kanpur, Soron, Kannauj, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Ghazipur, Bhagalpur, Mirzapur, Ballia, Buxar, Saidpur and Chunar. At Bhagalpur, the river meanders past the Rajmahal Hills, and begins to run towards south. The Ganges drains the fertile basin and supports one of the world's highest-density human populations. Almost half of the population of India lives on one-third of the landscape within 500 km of the Himalayan Mountain Ranges along the Gangetic plains and depends on the River Ganges.
History of Ganges River
During the early Vedic Ages, the Indus and the Saraswati River were the chief rivers, not the Ganges. But later, the three Vedas seemed to give much more significance to the Ganges, as shown by its plentiful references. Possibly the first foreign visitor to mention the name of Ganges, was Megasthenese.
Birth of Ganga River: According to Hindu religion, a famous king, Bhagiratha, did tapasya (meditation) for many years constantly to bring the river Ganges. The river was then residing in the heaven, so he did the meditation to bring down Ganges on the earth to find salvation for his ancestors, who were cursed by an oracle. Therefore, Ganges descended to the Earth through the chignon (Jata) of Lord Shiva to make whole earth pious, fertile and wash out the sins of humans. For Hindus in India, the Ganges is not just a river but a mother, a goddess, a tradition, a culture and much more. It is worshiped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism.
Mythological Importance of Ganga River: Ganga River is also said to be the river of supreme Lord Rama and also called "Ram Ganga" as there is a belief that Lord Rama promised while Ganges emerged from his feet that, when he will appear on earth as Lord Rama he will reside on the banks of Ganga and her tributaries. Lord Rama then appeared in Ayodhya which is on the banks of Saryu Ganga River, when he went to Janakpuri he crossed River Ganga in Haridwar. During his fourteen years exile from Ayodhya, along with wife, Sita, and brother Lakshmana, Lord Rama spent the first night on the banks of Tamsa River (Ganga tributaries), his second stay was at Shrungverpur which is on the banks of Ganga. Later, with the help of Nishadraj Gruh and Kevat, he crossed Ganga, and went to Triveni Sangam, Prayag Raj stayed with Muni Bharadvaj and then marched towards Chitrakoot and stayed there for 11 years and half year on Kamadgiri parvat on the banks of Mandakini, holy stream. From there he went to Panchvati and stayed on the bank of Godavari until Sita was abducted by demon king Ravana. The search for his beloved wife Sita, led Lord Ram to Rameshwaram, as it is said all rivers meet the ocean.
Hindu Beliefs about Ganga River
Some Hindus also believe that life is incomplete without taking a bath in Ganges at least once in their lives. Many Hindu families store the sacred water from the Ganges in their house, for use on special occasions and pujas. Hindus also believe that the water from the Ganges cleanses a person's mind, body and soul and rids the person of all past sins, and that it can also cure any diseases. The Ganges is the river of India, which has drawn uncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history. The story of the Ganges, from her source to the sea, is the account of India's civilisation and culture, the rise and fall of empires and the development of man in the modern era.
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