The River Ganges

The River Ganges is important in its own right. Some Hindus believe that it flowed from heaven to purify humans. Sometimes the river is represented in female form because many Hindus refer to it as 'mother Gangaa' or 'she'.

There are various locations along the River Ganges which can attract millions of pilgrims. Many Hindus believe water (known as 'Gangaa jal') from anywhere on the River Ganges is purifying and holy.

Kumbh Mela

The 55-day Kumbh Mela takes place every 12 years at the union of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the Saraswati, which is no longer visible. The most recent Kumbh Mela took place in 2013 and 120 million pilgrims attended.

Key facts about the Hindu Kumbh Mela festivalBBC NEWS, RETRIEVED 2013

People enter the Ganges in order to purify themselves. Many pilgrims also take home small containers of water from there to give to friends and family who are not able to attend.

Some Hindus visit the Gangotri Temple in the Himalayas. It is situated near the source of the River Ganges, where the water is believed to be purest.

Nature and importance

Many pilgrimage sites are situated near to the River Ganges and reflect how important it is to Hindus.

Many stories in scripture feature the river. The very popular avatar of Lord Vishnu as Krishna is believed to have lived at Gokul, on the Yamuna River, another place of pilgrimage for some Hindus. The young Lord Ganesh is also shown having adventures in and around the river.

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