It all begins at the Gangotri Glacier, a huge area of ice (five by fifteen miles), at the foothills of the Himalayas (13,000 ft) in northern Uttar Pradesh. This glacier is the source of the river Bhagirathi, which joins with the river Alaknanda to form the might river Ganga at the rocky canyon-carved town of Devprayag.
The Ganges basin is India's widest and most heavily populated region. In the western part of the Gangetic Plain, the river provides water for crops through a wide canal system whose major branches are the Upper Ganges Canal and the Lower Ganges Canal. Some of the foods items grown here include rice, sugarcane, lentils, potatoes, wheat, etc.
The Ganga has an important position in Hindu culture. It is mentioned in the Vedas, the Purans, the Ramayan and the Mahabharata. Ganga is the daughter of the mountain god Himavan or Himalaya.
We also believe that bathing in the river is said to wash away one's sins, and water from the river is used extensively in rituals. It is auspicious to drink from the Ganga in the hour before death, and many Hindus ask to be cremated along the Ganga and to have their ashes immersed in the river. As we have seen, this river holds a special significance in the hearts of Hindus.
For fun, why not try finding the river Ganga on a map and note all the cities it passes through?
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Water from the Ganga has the unusual property that any water mixed with even the smallest quantity of Ganga water becomes Ganga water, and inherits its healing and other holy properties !
In her youth, Lord Indra had asked for Ganga to be given to heaven to soothe the Gods with her cool waters.