Journey along the Ganges

Four cities on the banks of the holy river you should visit

Even if you have never before ventured to go on a trip to the magnificent country of India, the chances of you never having heard about the river Ganges are pretty slim. It is one of the world’s longest rivers and, according to Hindu mythology, is the daughter of the mountain God – the Himalaya. The river is of great cultural and religious significance for the whole Indian peoples. Not only do they believe that bathing in the river’s waters purifies one’s soul and heals the body, but the religious importance of the Ganges is so big that its banks are also used as cremation grounds. Those cremated there and their ashes immersed in the holy waters are believed to be granted instant salvation. All of this makes the Ganges a must for all tourists who wish to encounter all of India’s diverse beauty in terms of both culture and nature. However, this leads to an important question: Which city to visit in order to admire the holy river? Even though there are more than a dozen cities along the banks of the Ganges, following is a suggestion list of four cities that if you feel adventurous, you can even try and visit all.

Indian woman floating lamps in the Ganges

Indian woman floating lamps in the Ganges

1. Varanasi

Varanasi is the oldest city in India and known to many as the ‘religious capital of India’. It is also called the city of temples as there are more than 2000 temples and over 100 ghats (steps leading to the water of the Ganges). The banks of the Holy River at Varanasi are the most preferred cremation grounds. The city is visited by over one million pilgrims each year. Throughout the years, the city has been home to many prominent poets, religious leaders, philosophers and musicians. Even Buddha lived in Varanasi for a certain period of time and gave his first sermon there. Varanasi is a famous tourist destination with many shopping areas, some of which include Chowk, Gyan Vapi, Lahurabir and many more. A must is the ‘Old City’ with its winding, puzzle-like narrow streets. The indoor places of interest include the Archeological museum, the Bharat Kala Bhavan museum, the Jantar Mantar observatory and the Ramnagar Fort.

Varanasi ghats

Varanasi ghats

2. Kolkata

Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is a metropolitan city and among the ten most populated ones in India. As a matter of fact, it is the only megalopolis in the whole eastern part of India. One of the biggest tourist attractions in Kolkata are the pulled rickshaws which have been prohibited by the authorities many times but despite that, they are still widely used as they offer an easy means of transportation in the over-populated city. Kolkata is famous for its cinema. While Mumbai is the capital of commercial movies, Kolkata is known as the house of art films. Tourists’ favorite parts of the city are south of the Howrah Bridge in the areas around Chowringhe and BBD Bagh. Famous places of interest include the nation’s oldest museum, the Indian Museum, the Marble Palace and the Victoria Memorial. Also, the world’s second largest (and the biggest in India) stadium, Salt Lake Stadium, is situated in Kolkata.

Howrah Bridge from Howrah City side

Howrah Bridge from Howrah City side

3. Rishikesh

A holy city to Hindus, Rishikesh is situated at the foot of the Himalayas. The name of the city derives from the word ‘Hrisikesa’, which was a name of Vishnu and means ‘lord of the senses’. The city is sometimes referred to as the ‘world’s yoga capital’. There are many yoga schools which attract plenty of enthusiasts who believe that meditating in Rishikesh as well as plunging in the waters of the Ganges will bring them closer and faster to salvation. Famous places of interest include the Ram Jhula, the iron suspension bridge over the river Ganges as well as the now defunct ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi which even The Beatles visited in 1968. There, they composed over 40 songs. Rishikesh is also famous among people who are into rafting as the Ganges offers many rapids to test the enthusiasts’ skills and endurance.

Ram Jhula over the Ganges in Rishikesh

Ram Jhula over the Ganges in Rishikesh. Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons

4. Allahabad

Allahabad is situated in the northeastern part of India, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and even though it has deep Hindu roots, the name of the city is Muslim. The city stands where the ‘sacred union’ of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati is made. Allahabad is the second oldest city in India. It contains many temples and palaces and is also known as the ‘City of Prime Ministers’ for seven out of thirteen prime minister of post-independence India belonged to Allahabad. The city hosts one of the biggest Hindu pilgrimages known as the Kumbh Mela. It is a religious gathering which takes place in Allahabad once every twelve years. Touristic sites include Anand Bhawan, Khusro Bagh, Thornhill Mayne memorial. The city is also home to more than a dozen temples and museums.

Besides the aforementioned four cities, there are also a couple more, which deserve to be mentioned and are, without a doubt, worth visiting: Patna, Kanpur, Haridwar, Munger, Jajmau. Anyways, be sure that whichever city you might decide to pay a visit to, you will be struck with the splendor and, at the same time, humility which only a marvelous country like India can offer.

Ella Andrews is a content writer from London, UK. She loves to discover highly varied customs and traditions. That’s why she always prefers to travel till different exotic destinations. She thinks that the biggest charm of India is the culture. She would be happy to visit India at least once again.VacationHomesIndia

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28 Responses to “Journey along the Ganges”

  1. Bhushan says:

    This is very interesting topic for me.
    Long time ago,I spend some time in Haridwar cause of my training.This was very good days of life.I like and appreciate this post.

  2. Michael Belk says:

    What a nice place to visit. I bet people must see the waters as healing and spiritual.

    I like the history of the waters. I would give a try.

  3. Aayna says:

    Hey Shalu,
    The regions along the coast of the river Ganga are one of the enticing places of the country. These places are totally different in their outlook and present a variety of cultures to the visitors. The post has beautifully described the four cities. Glad to read it!! Thanks for sharing this post.

  4. Well, I am happy to see Howrah bridge on the list 😀

  5. Thanks,you have told me many things i did not know before.

  6. Mithil says:

    great article .. loved it. I was ignorant about some facts

  7. Hi Shalu,

    An emotional and nostalgic post.Journey along the ganges is a spiritual trip for me. I went to Kolkata a decade ago and was completely overwhelmed after touching the waters of the sacred river. It was a heavenly feeling. Wish to visit the rest of the places on the banks of this immortal river.

    Thanks a lot for this post


    • Felicia says:

      Hi Vijayraj,
      Your comment really makes me want to visit India soon! I somewhat envy you because you already got to see Ganges and Kolkata. I’m surely going to include Ganges and other places mentioned here in my travel-in-the-future-for-sure wishlist! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Arnab Maity says:

    Another lovely post Shalu! The best thing about the Ganges is that you can spend hours talking about her and places surrounding her, yet you would have only spoken half. There is so much to see and experience around the holiest river of India

  9. d.Nambiar says:

    Good one, Shalu.
    I want to visit Varanasi one day; heard so much about it.

  10. PrIyAnGsHu says:

    These are some beautiful places, however I have not visited any of these places yet but I really want to visit each of them at least once in my life time :).

  11. JJ says:

    well written articles with good details.
    You shouldn’t use the colonial word Ganges for one of holiest rivers Ganga

  12. Nishant says:

    being from Patna, I would have loved to see Patna also on the list of places here :)

  13. Felicia says:

    Hi Shalu,
    I am aware of the Ganges River, but not very much knowledgeable about its other areas and historical places. I sure would like to go and catch a glimpse of the holy men of Kumbh Mela. I believe they were featured once in the Amazing Race where the contestants went to India and had to do a task finding these holy men. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Ahsan says:

    I already visited Kolkata & visited lots of famous places – Howrah Bridge, the Victoria Memorial, Salt Lake Stadium. I still remember when I am reading your post

  15. Jake says:

    I already visited Kolkata & visited lots of famous places. I love India forever

  16. Sneha says:

    Julian Crandall Hollick, a journalist whose radio documentaries on sounds of India have gently woken me up on many days, has written a fabulous, conversational book that comprises a river’s ecology, mythology, and, to a lesser extent, her economy. Ganga is the name of Hollick’s book–simply Ganga and not the less euphonious, anglicized Ganges (note: this review is based on the Indian edition of Ganga; the American Island Press edition carries the subtitle “A Journey Down the Ganges River”). This is the river that invited Hollick to traverse her length, and she is the goddess who informs his story telling. Just as Ganga meanders through North India, Hollick weaves between the physical and the metaphysical to explore the conundrum of duality: Is Ganga a river, a goddess, or both? The answers come from Ganga’s fantastical mythological beginnings and its very real and constrained present.

  17. Varanasi looks really beautiful. The temples look interesting in the Rishikesh photo. Bet the best pics are after you get in there.

  18. I’m going to asia the next week, thanks for the info maybe I will go to india because the info I read here.
    Diseño web – Miguras

  19. Logo design says:

    Well written articles with good quality information.You shouldn’t use the royally word Ganges for one of holiest rivers Ganga

  20. Hi…

    I like this post, enjoyed this one thanks for posting ….

  21. ronald says:

    i watched a documentary on india & i thought the ganges was beautiful.

    i really want to visit the ganges because it seemed so peaceful.

  22. Kimber Scott says:

    I think I want to visit the ‘religious capital of India,’ Varanasi. I love learning about world religions. Thanks.

  23. Neha says:

    Ganga is getting polluted now. We should learn something from US.

  24. Raj from IRCTC Registration says:

    I also like to visit Varanasi. I like the artwork done on the ancient temples, it attracts me a lot. Also we should do something for Maa Gange.

  25. jhonthit says:

    in india so many cultural centers and civilization, reading literature adds a lot of insight and knowledge. article you provide have contributed to the knowledge of the culture

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