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   The Ganges River can be called the lifeline of North India. Ganges is so associated with the daily lives of the millions of people living in the immense Gangetic plains and the delta, that it is unthinkable to imagine life without the river.

Ganges has played a major role in the history of India. The tribes during the early vedic ages started to settle down in the Gangetic plains due to the fertile land, and this eventually lead to the formation of large states and empires. All the major empires in India after the Indus valley civilization have thrived in the Gangetic plains. Even today, the busiest towns and cities in Northern India are located on the banks of the Ganges. The river sustains life in all these cities by providing potable water, transportation means, and sadly, a dumping ground of industrial waste. The importance of Ganges to tourism in India can be judged on observing the number of pilgrimage sites in India that are located near the river. The Ganges is undoubtedly the most revered and the most important among the rivers of India.

The Course of Ganges:
The origin and course of this great river is almost a journey of entire north India. Ganga as it is known in India, originates from the Gangotri glacier in Uttarakhand. Bhagirathi is the main stream that originates here, and is later joined by the rivers Alkananda, Dhauliganga, Pindar, and Mandakini.

The next part of the journey starts from Hardwar, after a journey of more than 200 kilometers in the Himalayas. From here the river takes a south easterly turn and starts flowing towards the eastern states. Passing Kanpur, Ganga meets Yamuna, another important river in India in Allahabad. This confluence is known as Sangam and is one of the most revered sites for the Hindus of India. The river turns even mightier as many rivers including Kosi, Son, Gandhak and Ghagra join it between Allahabad and Malda in West Bengal. En-route, it passes famous cities like Varanasi and Patna. Ganges enters its final phases in India as it enters West Bengal. It splits into a major distributary , from which the river Hooghly originates. The river enters Bangladesh and becomes Padma, one of the three major rivers in Bangladesh.

The Gangetic delta is draws the curtain on the riverís flow where it gets divided into numerous distributaries before joining the Bay of Bengal.

The importance of Ganges:

Religious: Ganges has made a tremendous impact on the development of the chief religion of India, Hinduism. The ancient vedic scriptures that form the core of Hinduism were written on the banks of this river as the vedic people started migrating from the Indus valley to the Gangetic plains. The river is central to the pure Hindu way of life, as it is believed that the soul is not freed from this world after death, until the ashes of the deceased are immersed in the holy waters of the Ganges. Varanasi is the most revered city among the Hindus, and it is here that many people arrive before their death, in the hope of attaining salvation after death. Water from the holy river is essential for most Hindu rites. The river is also worshipped as a female deity and appears in the Mahabharata as one of the characters.

Besides Hinduism, the river is also important for other religions which have branched out of or have roots in Hinduism like Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

Others: The Ganges is very important for life in general in the cities on its bank. Tourism in India is dependant on it as many important tourist destinations are located besides or near the river. The river is extremely important for the ecological balance of the entire plains and the delta region surrounding it. Economy of India is also dependant on the river because the river provides the base for many major industries. offers all inclusive information about the Ganges River and other tourist places in India.

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