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Journeys on the Ganges

Listed under River Trips in Haridwar, India.

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As well as its physical and practical importance, the Ganges has important cultural and religious meaning for many of the people who live on its banks. The river, thought by Hindus to be a goddess, is a place of pilgrimage and each morning thousands of people enter the water to pray and have their sins washed away. It is believed that to reach heaven your body needs to touch the Ganges, so most Hindus are brought (some from other countries in the form of ashes.) to the river to be buried.

There are several particularly auspicious places to bathe in the Ganges and at these points, around Haridwar, Allahabad and Varanasi, temples stand in crammed lines along the river's banks. As well as important places of pilgrimage these towns are the most popular places for travellers to visit due to their cultural significance and the constantly moving colour the religious life brings to them.

The Ganges has several sets of challenging rapids and is popular with adventure sports enthusiasts.

As well as ceremonial value, the river is still used for washing and bathing, so carries a huge risk of disease from pollution. One of the river’s main sources is the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas and the Ganges joins the ocean through a vast river delta in the Bay of Bengal.

Travelling the Ganges

A flowing pilgrimage, the Ganges is intimately intertwined with the lives of most of India’s inhabitants. It’s a place to wash, to pray to congregate, to celebrate and to say goodbye. But it can also be a place to sail or journey. The two most important pilgrimage sites along the river are Allahabad and Varanasi, they’re also the most spectacular, bustling and ornately decorated with shrines, so a logical choice for in and out points of a journey. It’s about five days on the winding river between the temples of one and the other.

Even outside of the towns and cities people still flock to the water’s edge, so you’ll never be entirely alone - often within the range of singing prayers.

Varanasi has sections of canal running into the city to the ghats, stairs into the river, where people are cremated before being tossed into the Ganges for their final journey, and hundreds of temples lining the banks of the river. Allahabad sits at the join of the Ganges and another holy river, the Yamuna.

Written by  World Reviewer Staff.

Other expert and press reviews

“Excerpt from 'Hindu festival brings 70 million to Ganges'”

By Biswajeet Bannerjee for The Independent First published January 3, 2007 Nearly 70 million Hindus are expected to bathe in freezing cold water at the confluence of three major rivers in north India as part of Ardh Kumbh Mela, a pilgrimage intended to… Read more...

Written by press. Full Article from The Independent

“India: Down the Ganges, with a man who really knows the way”

By Gill Charlton for The Telegraph First published 23rd July, 2009 Jai Prakash Sharma was born to be a tour leader. The son of a Brahmin farmer from Bundi in Rajasthan, he combines a deep love of his country with a mischievous sense of humour and the a… Read more...

Written by press. Continue reading on telegraph.co.uk

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