From the source to the sea, the Ganges is more of a unique entity than a physical river. The river has been made immortal by the legend that surrounds it and the role that it plays in the various legends. The river is also a part of daily life and life on the banks of the river starts with a prayer to it. The journey starts at Gomukh, believed to be the source of the river deep in the upper Himalayas. It winds through Varanasi, one of the oldest living cities in the world and ends at the Sunderbans, the world’s largest delta. A part of the journey can be accomplished by rafting (in the upper reaches) and by sailing in fishermen’s boats (from Allahabad to Varanasi, from Chandennagore to Kolkata and then in the Ganga Sagar). INDEBO (www.indebo.com) has been one of the pioneers in designing journeys along this river in fisherman boats or rafts.
The upper reaches: Most of the upper reaches have to be walked or can be rafted in. You would trek to Gomukh, believed to be the true source of the Ganga. Here the river is crystal clear, cold and pristine. You can then move on to Gangotri. The ganga is believed to have come down from the heavens at Gangotri.Uttarkashi would be point of interest to you as well. This picturesque town has breathtaking views of valleys and natural skies. From here on, you can come to the twin towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh where the Ganges takes on a slightly milder state. The regions are great for rafting. The towns provide important facets of Hinduism as well as they are some of the holy points and pilgrimage centers for the Hindus.
Along the plains: The ancient and holy city of Varanasi draws pilgrims by the multitudes. On display are the innocence and religious fervour of the people. One of the oldest living cities of the world, Varanasi is an important site for Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. Buddha delivered his first sermon close to Varanasi. Many believe, that to die in Varanasi would guarantee salvation. On this journey, Allahabad would be very important as well. The Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati merge at Allahabad.The confluence is the site of the Kumbh Mela. Down the river lies the town of Sonepur famous for Asia’s largest cattle fair where horses, elephants, birds and cows are traded. Further down from Sonepur in the Northern reaches of West Bengal lie Murshidabad (the town of mysteries) and Chandennagore, the French town. Both feature prominently on the way to Kolkata.
Meeting the sea: Where the river meets the sea lies the Sundarbans – the world’s largest continuous mangrove forest. It hosts an amazing diversity of flora and fauna, including probably the largest remaining population of Royal Bengal tigers, the endangered estaurine crocodile, the Ganga river dolphins, as well as an astounding variety of birds. On one of the islands of the Sunderbans is held the annual Ganga Sagar Festival. The river is also famous for the Hilsa a fish that lives in the sea but lays its eggs 1200km upstream in the river. Due to its anadromous nature, the Hilsa is famous for its taste, especially with the mustard.
About the author: After 12 years in school, 4 years in anengineering college and 2 years at a management institute, Anindya finally realised what he didn’t want. Stepping into inbound tourism and working in the marketing department at INDEBO (www.indebo.com), he realised that a job need not be boring. He has been working in the company for almost two years and there is no other place he’d much rather be. In these years, he has travelled extensively through the lesser known regions of Northern India, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, and has trekked through some of the most pristine National Parks.
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