The Ganges River
The Ganges River – or Mother Ganga as ‘she’ is better known in India – is the spiritual heart of the country, considered by Hindus as a sacred entity and the personified form of the goddess Ganga. For the living, a dip in this sacred river washes away previous negative karma. Many Hindus also choose to make their final journey here so that their bodies may be cremated on the river’s banks in order to attain Moksha or peace, at the time of death. It is this very juxtaposition – the living pilgrims ritually bathing in the river a short way from the cremation ghats – that is both fascinating and somewhat perplexing.
The third largest river on Earth, the mighty Ganges is born in the glaciers of the Himalayas, flowing east through several states – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal – before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges supports one of the highest density of human populations in the world. The vast delta fed by the Ganges is extremely fertile, producing crops such as wheat, potatoes, lentils, oil seeds, rice and sugarcane, which, along with its fishing industry, are all instrumental to India’s agricultural economies.
Tourism is also important; for many a visit to the Ganges, and in particular to one of the many centres on the river – such as Varanasi, Allahabad or Haridwar – is the highlight of a tour to India and these cities also attract thousands of pilgrims to their waters. Now with the introduction of specially designed cruise vessels there is the opportunity to access the more rural and quaint side of this river in a more intimate way. Snaking its way from India’s mountains to its deltas, the Ganges offers fabulous scenery and fascinating culture at every turn and there’s no better way to experience the river than by boat.
Features in the following itineraries
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Leslie Siben, India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Susan Ford, India