(anglicised from Ganga
) is a major river in northern India
. It originates as the Bhagirathi River at the Gangotri Glacier
in the Himalayas
, joins the Alaknanda River to form the Ganges, and then flows across the North Indian plains (called the Gangetic Plains
). Eventually it splits into many parts and empties into the Bay of Bengal
. One part is the Hoogli River near Kolkata
, and a major part is the Padma River that enters Bangladesh
. The area between Calcutta and the end of the river in thr Bay of Bengal is known as the Sunderbans, meaning the Beautiful Forests
The Ganges is considered a sacred river by Hindus. (See Ganga) It is believed that dipping in the Ganges will wash away one's sins, and that having one's ashes disposed of in the Ganges after death may improve one's next life or even allow Moksha to be attained sooner. Devout Hindus make pilgrimages to bathe in the Ganges and to meditate on its banks.
Several places sacred to Hindus lie along the banks of the river Ganges, including Haridwar and Varanasi (sometimes called Kashi, and its anglicised name Benares).
The Yamuna River, a major river in its own right, and nearly as sacred, is a tributary of the Ganges, and their confluence is near Allahabad.
Two species of dolphin can be found in the Ganges, the Ganges River Dolphin and the Irrawaddy Dolphin.
The Ganges is also notable in that it contains a rare species of freshwater shark, Glyphis gangeticus about which little is known.
Ganges is also the name of a commune in the Hérault département in France.