Interesting Facts on the Ganga
The Yajur, Sama and Atharva Vedas have interesting narrations on Ganga. They have given much importance to her than any other rivers in India. However, according to Rigveda, which is the oldest of all, Saraswati River and Indus River are the holiest. With the passage of time, these two rivers have faded into oblivion. In fact, there is no trace of Saraswati River at all. It is only the holy Ganga that is flowing relentlessly and is one of the perennials among all the rivers. It has not only contributed spiritually as well as culturally, but also provided much sustenance to millions of people settled on her banks. Here are some of the interesting facts on Ganga.
Anti-putrefaction properties of Ganga
When the level of oxygen drops in river waters, the water tends to decay and emit a foul smell. But despite being brutally polluted due to industrial and domestic uses, spiritual functions, commercial needs, body cremation, etc. the Ganga water does not decay even if kept for a longer time. This fact has been proved by C. E. Nelson, a British Physician. He collected the Ganga water from Hooghly river, which is considered to be the most polluted, and took it back to England by ships. He was amazed to find the water fresh throughout the journey.
Shifting of Ganga
Rivers tend to shift with the time. What differs is the speed and length of shifting. The holy Ganga too has been a victim of this natural phenomenon. Over the last few decades, it has shifted to a whooping 500 meters leaving away its original course. This is an alarming situation for the inhabitants of the Gangetic plains. Besides natural elements, what has added to its shifting is the deforestation and pollution. The study conducted also revealed that it is shifting to the east of Bangladesh. The change in its course has been too obvious for the last three decades.
Ecology and Wild Life
The holy Ganga is a home to some of the rare species of fish, and birds. There are over 100 species of fish, and 90 amphibian species. It is also a home to a large number of dolphins. However, the population of dolphins has declined in the last twenty years. There are also species of freshwater shark. The sharks are short with round snout and tiny eyes.
Size of Ganga
The Ganga rises from Gangotri glaciers at the height of 14,760 ft. above the sea level. It is formed by the confluence of Bhagirath and Alaknanda rivers at Devprayag and meanders through the Himalayan valley, Gangetic Plains and several cities of the north India before discharging into the Bay of Bengal. Though its size has been estimated around 2520 km, in reality, it is impossible to get the precise number on its length. The adding of several tributaries and its splitting in Bengal is the reason that makes finding its exact length difficult.
Pilgrimage Centers on River Ganga
The Hindu pilgrimage is incomplete without visiting the Ganga and other holy places close to it. The main holy places that form a circle of pilgrimage are Rishikesh, Haridwar, Varanasi, and Prayag. The Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit is Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath.
These are some of the known facts about Ganga. Though lots of factors have contributed in making it the most polluted river, it is still sacred to the Hindus. The belief people have in Ganga is so powerful that nothing can shake it no matter howsoever it gets contaminated.