Ganges River

   The Ganges River is the main river draining the alluvial Indo-Gangetic plains in northern India. These plains comprise one of the most heavily populated and cultivated areas in Asia. The Ganges is the holy river for most of the Indians who are Hindus. Thousands of Hindu temples and shrines stand along the banks of the Ganges, especially at Henares, the holiest of Hindu cities. Every year millions of Hindus come from all corners of India to bathe in the Ganges and to drink from it. They believe this water restores health to both the body and the soul.
   The Ganges has its source at high altitudes on the southern side of the Himalayas. Flowing generally southward, it cuts through a series of mountains and across the upper Ganges Plain. In this upper course the Ganges is the source of water for two of India's major irrigation-canal systems. About 70 miles east of Delhi the river flows southeast and passes one of the greatest in­dustrial cities of India, Cawnpore. At AUahabad, the Ganges is joined by its big tributary, the Jumna. By now a mighty river, the Ganges receives other tributaries from the north and the south while it flows eastward through Uttar Pradesh and Bihar province. Before turning southward in eastern Pakistan, the Ganges is joined by the Brahmaputra from the north. The combined Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers then reach the sea via a series of sluggish delta streams. The westernmost of these distributaries, the Hooghly, is cleaned by tides and hence is navigable to Calcutta, the delta's major port. The total length of the Ganges is 1,560 miles.
   The Ganges is used extensively in trade and transportation. Many great cities are built along its length.