The Ganges River
The Ganges is Indias holiest river. But to millions of devoted Hindus, it is much more than just a river. It is also a goddess and a benevolent mother—Ganga Ma or Great Mother. To her devotees, bathing in Mother Ganga washes away all sin, drinking her waters heals all illness, and dying on her banks ensures deliverance from the cycle of death and rebirth. Or so they believe.
Ganga Ma begins at the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas. Her waters plunge spectacularly out of the lofty mountains, meander lazily across Indias broad Gangetic Plain into Bangladesh, and finally spread out fan–like with a thousand watery fingers to empty into the Bay of Bengal. For more than 1,500 miles, the watery personification of the goddess Ganga sustains life in one of the worlds most densely populated regions, and charts a spiritual course to eternal contentment for most of Indias Hindu masses.