To millions of Indians, Ganga or Ganges isn't just a river. It is a symbol of their civilization...
Ganga or Ganges, as the world outside India knows it, isn't just another river for millions of Hindus. It is a representative of a culture as old as human civilization. Ganga divided herself into a hundred mouths that form the Ganges delta. One of these streams washed the ashes, and offered salvation to the souls of the 60, 000 dead princes. The island, where the ashes lie, is referred to as Sagar Islands, just beyond Haridwar.
The perennial river originates in the mighty Himalayas, flows through the Northern Plains of India and drains into the Bay of Bengal. Upstream, the river dons several names. It is Mandakini, it is Alaknanda, it is Bhagirathi and it is Vishnu Ganga.
The river originates at Gaumukh in the Gangotri glacier right at the top of the Himalayas, drop by drop, in trickles. Gaumukh is the snout of the Gangotri glacier, shaped like a cow's mouth, hence the name. Beginning at an altitude of 14, 100 feet above sea level, the glacier runs down 30 kms to an altitude of 1000 feet above sea level.
About 250 kms, before merging with the ocean, the river divides itself into several streams and drains into the Bay of Bengal. Also merging with the Ganga here is the river Brahmaputra. The Ganga assumes other names here, such as the Padma and the Meghna.