India rivers have played an important role in the history of the country. Parts of the country are very dry and arid, and thus the rivers of India have served as sources of irrigation, drinking water, electricity, and even affordable transportation. For these reasons, almost all major cities in India are located along rivers. Because the livelihood of many Indian people is dependent on the river, it has taken on a symbol of holiness in Hindu tradition. It gives life through quenching thirst and watering crops.
While many rivers pass through the Himalayas, the Ganges river is one of the major rivers of India. It flows for more than 1,200 miles east through Northern India and into Bangladesh. The Ganges river is a great example of a body of water that has entered Hindu culture, and it is worshipped as the goddess Ganga. Many important cities throughout Indian history have been located along the Ganges river, including Patliputra, Kannauj, Kara, Allahabad, Murshidabad, and Kolkata. More than 400 million people are affected by the river, which makes the pollution of the river a major health concern.
The sacred city of Varanasi is a popular destination among travelers who wish to make a pilgrimage to the Ganges. The city is home to numerous ghats, which are sets of stairs used by pilgrims to access the river. There are more than 100 in Varanasi, and early in the morning, pilgrims can be seen offering their prayers to the morning sun.
Another important river in India is the Brahmaputra river, which eventually merges with the Ganges river. All India rivers are affected by weather and seasons. Depending on when you travel to India, such as during the hot season or the rainy season, you may see the rivers in different conditions. This river in particular is prone to catastrophic flooding when the ice melts from the Himalayas. This is a constant concern for the people living in the area of the Brahmaputra river. A navigable river, it is unique for bearing a male name. Most names of river in the area are feminine, but the name for the Brahmaputra river means "son of Brahma" in Sanskrit.
The Brahmaputra river is less polluted than other major rivers in the world; however, flooding has become an even more serious issue in recent years due to the rise in deforestation. As the livelihood of millions of people across the country, India rivers are at the center of many conservation efforts. Also a source of great beauty across the country, rivers are entwined with the ancient history of India. Nature is treated with a spiritual importance that is often lacking elsewhere; taught to be thankful for their natural resources, Indian people show respect for the sustenance given to them in water.
India rivers have played a significant role in the colonization and trade of the country as well. Long before the railroad, valuable spices were transported on boats and then spread throughout the world. Spices were one of the first major commodities to be desired worldwide, and it is partly because of the cheap transportation in rivers that the world was first exposed to the bold flavors of India.