Dark and Mysterious caves
Strange Hot Water Springs
Snow clad mountains
Invisible Holy men along the 1500 mile Ganges river.
A study by the National Environmental Engineering Institute (NEERI) claiming that water in the Ganga has unique “anti-bacterial” properties has put a question mark on at least three important hydro electric projects on the Alaknanda in Uttarakhand. And forced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to depute an official emissary to explain matters to environmentalist and former IIT professor G D Agrawal — later rechristened as Swami Gyanswaroop Sanand — of the Ganga Seva Abhiyanam who claims that the river will lose these properties if hydro electric projects come up on its upper reaches.
Mahakumbh is held once-in-12-years on the banks of the river Ganga. This largest religious congregation on earth will be held next year -2013.
The NEERI study, commissioned by the Tehri Hydel Development Corporation and submitted last November, has become a key document for the protestors. It states: “The present study confirmed that the uniqueness of the River Bhagirathi/Ganga lay in its sediment content which is more radioactive compared to other river and lake water sediments.
It has bactericidal properties and can cause proliferation of coliphages that reduce and ultimately eliminate coliforms from overlying water column (a Bacteriophage is a virus that infects bacteria and ultimately kills them. Coliphages infects a particular type of bacteria and kills them) Investigations revealed that particulate matters of Alaknanda have identical anti-bacterial property as that of Bhagirathi.”
Holy Shrines on the river
There are more than 6000 temples dotting the hills of Himachal, built with typical Himalayan timbers. You may visit Pancha Prayags, Panch Kedars, Four Dhams, and Five Hot Springs in the Garhwal hills.
Panch Prayags: Deo Prayag, Rudra Prayag, Karna Prayag, Nand Prayag and Vishnu Prayag
Four Dhams: Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath
Panch Badris (Vishnu Temples): Badrinath, Pandukeshwar, Adi Badri, Bavishya Badri and Vridha Badri (Ani math)
Panch Kedars: Kedarnath, Madhya Maheswar, Tunganath, Rudranath and Urgam
Hot Water Springs in the snow: Yamunotri (surya kund), Badrinath, Son Prayag, Madhya Maheswar and Tapovan
Ice Lingas, like the Ice Linga of Amarnath Cave (Kashmir), are formed along the Khatling glacier. The main ice linga of the Garhwal hills is located between Gangotri and Kedarnath. (facts collected from the book on Garhwal Hills).
More about Ganges
In his book “Dictionary of Bhagavad Gita”, R J Venkateswaran says:
Jahnavi is another name of Ganges. Tha Ganges is the 39[SUP]th[/SUP] longest river in the world and the fifteenth longest in Asia with a length of 2506 kilometres. But from the point of sacredness, it is river without a rival. Lord Krishna says in the Gita (10-37), “ of rivers I am the Ganga”.
Sankara, the great philosopher, has praised Ganga as a goddess endowed with remarkabl powers. In his prayer to Mother Ganga, he has said that those who drink her holy waters will have gateway to the highest destiny open to them and that death will not dare to come near them. Sankara has described the river as the holy stream, issuing from Lord Hari’s blessed feet, spotlessly pure. And prays to her to destroy his sins and take him across the ocean of worldliness. Sankara paid his tribute as the saviour of the fallen, mother of great hero Bhisma, blessed you in all the three worlds”.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was also a staunch believer in the greatness and goodness of the Ganga Master. Sri Ramakrishna used to describe the water of Ganga as Brahmavari,that is Brahman in the form of water.
Mr Venkateswaran continues, “ The Ganga has fascinated not only the sages and savants of India, but also scholars, philosophers and adventurers from all parts of the world. One of the most authoritative books on the river has been written by Dr Stevan G Darian, Professor of Linguistics at Rutgers University, entitled The Ganges in Myth and History. The author says, “From the time of Vishnu Dharma Shastra in the third century AD, Ganga has played a vital role in Hindu ceremony, in rituals of birth and initiation of marriage and death”.
But Ganges is praised in the Rig Veda and all the Hindu scriptures. Kalidasa and Sangam Tamil literature also attest to its holiness. So we can boldly say that the river has been venerated by the Hindus for more than 3000 years.
(Please read the earlier posts “Holy River Ganges in Kalidasa and Sangam Tamil Literature” and “Great Engineers of Ancient India” to know more about the greatness of the Ganges).