Tourism in India benefits immensely from the ever growing interest in Ganga (or Ganges) among tourists, particularly among the foreign tourists. Being aware of the immense historical, mythological, and religious significance of this mighty river, these tourists visit the major pilgrimage sites in India to learn about Indian culture and of course, about Ganga. None of the other rivers of India command as much respect as the Ganga. It is the very basis of religion, commerce and general life in the plains of India.
Factual Information About Ganga:
Length :– 2510 kms
Width :– the Ganges basin is between 200- 400 miles wide
Origin :– Gangotri glacier as Bhagirathi, in Uttarakhand
Dams :– Hardwar and Farakka.
The river has been of supreme importance for Hinduism. The Aryans first settled down near the river due to its extremely fertile nature. This gave birth to the consolidation of tribes and the formation of large empires. Hinduism gives a special respect to this river which can be judged by the fact that almost every major Hindu ritual involves the use of holy water from the Ganges. The river is also worshipped all over the country in the form of a female deity. Ganga, as a female Goddess, appears in the epic Mahabharata. She is shown as the mother of one of the most important characters of the epic, Bhishma.
There are many Hindu Pilgrimage sites located on the banks of or near the Ganga. These sites attract a large number of Hindu pilgrims and tourists. the major pilgrimage sites near Ganga include Rishikesh, Hardwar, Varanasi, Allahabad, and Sangam,
The river has immense commercial importance and thus affects Indian economy in many ways. Ganga provides an alternative mode of transport. The river enables transport of heavy goods by relatively cheap and cost effective means. The river is the basis of many industries like the jute industry of West Bengal and Bangladesh. All industries rely on the river as it sustains the workforce of these industries and the river also provides all the water required for many of these.
Ecological Importance and threats:
The river is the lifeline of the vast Indian plains. The entire ecosystem of this land which stretches from Uttar Pradesh to West Bengal is dependant on the river. Many important species including the severely endangered Gangetic porpoise are found in the waters of the river. The forests surviving along the banks or fed by the channels and distributaries of the river are crucial for wildlife in north India. Unfortunately, in cities like Varanasi, Ganga is tortured by constant pollution. The river is also under threat form the fast melting glaciers as a result of global warming.
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