Ganges (Hindi Ganga), major river of the Indian subcontinent, formed in the Himalaya, in Uttarakhand State, India. The Ganges mostly flows in India, except Bangladesh before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges Basin, one of the most fertile regions of the world and also one of the most densely populated, lies between the Himalaya and the Vindhyachal Range, and embraces an area of more than 1 million km2 (386,100 mile2).
The Ganges, about 2,510km (1,560 mile) long, emerges in a snowfield called The Gangotri Glacier, situated among three Himalayan mountains all more than 6,706m (22,000 ft) high. It starts as the Bhagirathi River from an ice cave, 3,139m (10,300 ft) above sea level, and falls 67mts./km (350 ft/mile). About 16 km (10 mile) from the source is Gangotri, the first temple on its banks and a traditional resort of pilgrims. At Devaprayag, 214 km (133mile) from the source, the Bhagirathi joins the Alaknandato form the Ganges.
The Ganges enters the plain from Rishikesh after completing a journey of 229kms. (142 miles) in a rugged tarrain of Himalayas. The Ganges, after descending2,810m (9,276 ft), or an average of about 11 mts/km (60 ft/mile), flows west to the border of the great plain of India at Haridwar, 253 km (157 mile) from its source and ,312mts (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 mile), made unnavigable by shoals and rapids.
At Allahabad, the Ganges is joined by the YamunaRiver from the south-west, and from that point the river flows east pastMirzapur, Varanasi, Ghazipur, Patna, Monghyr, and Bhagalpur, receiving on the south theSon River and on the north the Gumti,Ghaghara, Gandak, and Kosi rivers. In the Rajmahal Hills, at the head of the Ganges delta, 906 km (563 mile) from Allahabad, the river turns south and begins a descent of 455km (283 mile) to the Bay of Bengal. Near Pakaur, the Bhagirathi (assuming the former name of the river) and, 114 km (71 mile) lower down, the JalangiRiver branch off from the main stream, and after individual courses of 193 km (120 mile) each, unite again to form the Hooghly River, the westernmost and principal channel of navigation, on which the city of Calcutta stands. The main branch of the Ganges, from which numerous minor tributaries flow, continues in Bangladesh, as the Padma River, to the town of Shivalaya (Sibalay), where it unites with the Jamuna, the main branch of the Brahmaputra, and finally runs through the Meghna estuary into the Bay of Bengal.
Between the Meghna estuary and the western channel of the Hooghly River are the several mouths of the deltaic channels. The northern portion of the delta is fertile and well cultivated. The southern section consists mostly ofswampland, known as the Sundarbans, because of the sundari tree that flourishes there. Themarshes are inhabited by several species ofcrocodile. From year to year the Ganges exchanges old channels for new ones, particularly in the alluvial basin of its lower reaches. Like the Brahmaputra, the Ganges has been adversely affected by the deforestation of valleys in its upper course, causing flooding and an increase in sedimentation around the river’s delta in Bangladesh. This sometimes combines with coastal flooding caused by cyclones to produce inundation of the delta area on a massive scale.
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