There is perhaps no river in the world more sacred and worshipped than the Ganges. No other river has ever seen so many people on her banks, and not a single river has ever been of greater service to the living and the dead than the Ganges.
She springs from the top of the melting Himalayan glaciers, and her waters run towards the ocean through the entire India (and Bangladesh as well), bringing life, water and food, and taking away death and filth. The Indians worship the river as a goddess and call her ‘Ganga Ma’, the Mother Ganga.

The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, round which are intertwined her memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and her defeats. She has been a symbol of India’s age-long culture and civilization, ever changing, ever flowing, and yet ever the same Ganga. (Jawaharlal Nehru)

A Sacred Spring

The Holy River of Ganga descends to Earth from the heavens, springing from the Gangotri glacier in the Himalayas. Here several brooks form a crystal clear Bhagirathi river. Satopanth and Bhagirath Kharak glaciers give rise to the Alaknanda river. 70 km before Rishikesh these two Himalayan rivers meet and become a single flow named Ganga. A place where the rivers blend is called Devprayag; it is also a pilgrimage site for the Hindus. Rishikesh is the very first city met by the sacred river on her way; this is the place where the Ganga leaves the Shivalik Hills in the Himalayas and flows to the plains of Northern India. Down the river, the waters are heavily polluted, but here in Rishikesh the Ganga is still fresh and clear, with a touch of malachite green of the highland Himalayan minerals.

Ganga Ma the Goddess

The Ganga is far away from being just a river. She is the Divine Mother indeed. She runs down the Himalayas as a life-giver. Her waters bring purity, bliss, and freedom. The Ganga is not just water. She is the nectar of life and liberation. She is the source of inspiration for everyone who looks into this incessant, never-ending, dashing current. Not only does she water the farms and the fields of India; she also waters our hearts and minds. She is the Mother Goddess, she bestows freedom upon every soul, never discriminating, never hesitating, never asking for anything in return.

Her waters bring purification to anyone who bathes in them, to anyone who imbibes them. She is literally a universal remedy against all impurities. Every evening, when the endless waters of the Mother Ganga reflect the last sunbeams, a daily ceremony is held in Rishikesh. It is the ritual of worshipping the River, Ganga Aarti.

Ganga Ji, the Yoga Master of Rishikesh

Apart from being the most remarkable feature of Rishikesh, Ganga Ji is the Master of yoga and meditation. You can easily see it for yourself; just sit for a little while on the bank of the river, and you will see how your thoughts are calming down, your mind is becoming clear, and internal energy is filling your body.

Meditation in Rishikesh
Meditation on the banks of Ganga in Rishikesh