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National River



The Ganga or Ganges is the longest river of India flowing over 2,510 kms of mountains, valleys and plains.

It originates in the snowfields of the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas as the Bhagirathi River.

It is later joined by other rivers such as the Alaknanda, Yamuna, Son, Gumti, Kosi and Ghagra.

The Ganga river basin is one of the most fertile and densely populated areas of the world and covers an area of 1,000,000 sq. kms.

There are two dams on the river - one at Haridwar and the other at Farakka.

The Ganges River Dolphin is an endangered animal that specifically habitats this river.

The Ganga is revered by Hindus as the most sacred river on earth. Key religious ceremonies are held on the banks of the river at cities such as Varanasi, Haridwar and Allahabad.

The Ganga widens out into the Ganges Delta in the Sunderbans swamp of Bangladesh, before it ends its journey by emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

Gomukh - The Origin

The river, about 2,510 km (1,560 mi) long, rises in a snowfield called THE GANGOTRI GLACIER, situated among three Himalayan mountains all more than 6,706 m (22,000 ft) high.

It issues as the Bhagirathi River from an ice cave, 3,139 m (10,300 ft) above sea level, and falls 67 m per km (350 ft per mi).

About 16 km (10 mi) from the source is Gangotri, the first temple on its banks and a traditional resort of pilgrims.

At the village of Devaprayag, 214 km (133 mi) from the source, the Bhagirathi joins the Alaknanda to form the Ganges.

The Ganges, after descending 2,827 m (9,276 ft), or an average of about 11 m per km (60 ft per mi), flows west to the border of the great plain of Hindustan at Haridwar, 253 km (157 mi) from its source and 312 m (1,024 ft) above sea level.

From Haridwar it continues south and then south-east to Allahabad after a winding course of 785 km (488 mi), made un navigable by shoals and rapids.

At Allahabad, the Ganges is joined by the Yamuna River from the south-west, and from that point the river flows east past Mirzapur, Varanasi, Ghazipur, Patna, Monghyr, and Bhagalpur, receiving on the south the Son River and on the north the Gumti, Ghaghara, Gandak, and Kosi rivers.

Dams on the Ganga

There are two major dams on the Ganga. One at Haridwar diverts much of the Himalayan snowmelt into the Upper Ganges Canal, built by the British in 1854 to irrigate the surrounding land. This caused severe deterioration to the water flow in the Ganga, and is a major cause for the decay of Ganga as an inland waterway.

The other dam is a serious hydroelectric affair at Farakka, close to the point where the main flow of the river enters Bangladesh, and the tributary Hooghly (also known as Bhagirathi) continues in West Bengal past Calcutta.

This barrage, which feeds the Hooghly branch of the river by a 26 mile long feeder canal, and its water flow management has been a long-lingering source of dispute with Bangladesh, which fortunately is likely to be resolved based on discussions held with the new Hasina government in Bangladesh in 1996 when I.K. Gujral was the Foreign Minister in India, Failure to resolve this has caused harm to both sides of the border for nearly two decades now.

Bangladesh feels that the lack of flow in the summer months causes sedimentation and makes Bangladesh more prone to flood damages. At the same time, proposals for linking the Brahmaputra to the Ganges to improve the water flow in the Ganges is hanging fire. Also, the water management problem may actually involve a number of other riparian countries such as Nepal (where there has been tremendous deforestation, leading to greater silt content).

It is likely that Ganga carried more water around the time of the Roman Empire, when Patna was the major port city of Pataliputra. Even in the eighteenth century the ships of the East India Company would come to call at the port city of Tehri, on the Bhagirathi, one of the main source river of Ganga.

Another dam is proposed to be built on the upper reaches of a tributary of the Ganga, Mahakali, This Indo-Nepal project, the Pancheswar dam, proposes to be the highest dam in the world and will be built with US collaboration.

The upper and lower Ganga canal, which is actually the backbone of a network of canals, runs from Haridwar to Allahabad, but maintenance has not been very good and my personal experience is that it probably trickles out into a small river a little beyond Kanpur.

Ward's Lake, located in the heart of Shillong, offers you a most pleasant beauty spot. The lake with gradually undulating grounds, hemmed in by lush greens, has a charming winding walk-a-way in the midst of rolling flowerbeds and fairyland lighting. The 100-year-old lake has a strikingly beautiful arched bridge. Boats of all sizes and shapes are available while the cafeteria provides you with refreshments.

Other notable breathtaking beauty spots are Lady Hydari Park, St. Paul's Cathedral, Crinoline swimming pool, Botanical Gardens, Shillong Peak with a 180-degree view of the city.


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