Ganges River - VARANASI, INDIA

The Ganges or Ganga  is a trans-boundary river of South Asia which flows through India and Bangladesh. The 2,601 km (1,616 mi) river originates from the Gangotri Glacier of western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of India and Bangladesh, eventually emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

The Ganges River is a lifeline to millions who live along its course. It is a sacred river and worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. The Ghats in Varanasi are embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank, where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions. All along its course, Hindus bathe in its waters, paying homage to their ancestors and to their gods by cupping the water in their hands, lifting it and letting it fall back into the river; they offer flowers and rose petals and float shallow clay dishes filled with oil and lit with wicks (diyas). On the journey back home from the Ganges, they carry small quantities of river water with them for use in rituals.