The Ganges not only is one of the major river providing life, food and power to the people residing along its banks in India, but also holds a huge importance in the spiritual culture of Indians. If I have to put it in simple words I would say that the Ganges not only nourishes India by providing power, water and food, but it also nourishes India religiously.
There is a whole lot of mythology associated with the river Ganges, and according to Hindus here in India, the river is a Goddess and that is why they calls it the “Mother Ganga”. It is believed that taking a dip in the holy Ganga washes away all your sins, and that is the reason why thousands of people gathers at the banks of Ganges and worships Mother Ganga and takes a dip in its holy water. Hindu pilgrims from different parts of the country travel here to bathe and be blessed with the holy waters.
The major religious centers for the worship of Mother Ganga are Allahabad, Varanasi and Haridwar. Elaborate worship ceremonies are conducted here everyday by individuals and several groups of Sadhus.
Varanasi: Varanasi is one of the most prominent religious centers and along with the people casting tributes in the holy water of Ganga; you actually can see several people chanting quiet prayers in the cremations taking place on the Ghats of Varanasi. One of the must-see attractions, here is the grand “aarti” at Dasaashwamedh Ghat. Thousands of lit lanterns are released into the holy Ganga by the worshipers as a mark of their respect and believe in the power of the river goddess.
Haridwar: According to Hindu Religion, Haridwar is the Gateway to God, which becomes pretty clear with its name “Hari” + “Dwar” where “Hari” means God in Hindi and “Dwar” means “Gate”. At Haridwar, the Ganges River enters the north Indian planes India. Haridwar is one of the most preferred pilgrim destinations for Hindus, and Hindu pilgrims from across the world travel here to wash away their sins and get close to the “Gateway to God”. One of the most Holy Event for Hindus “The Kumbha Mela” is also held here Haridwar (other place where Kumbh Mela is held includes Nashik, Ujjain and Prayag). This holy Kumbha Mela is happens four times every 12 years, once at all the four cities mentioned above. The most important and crucial pilgrimage spot here in Haridwar is “Har ki pairi”. Here at “Har ki pairi” the devotees gather alongside the banks of Ganges and the entire bank is lit up with thousands of lamps during the prayer offered to Mother Ganga.
Prayag (Allahabad): Prayag is also one another significant Ganges pilgrimage for Hindus. The aforementioned holy Kumbh mela also occurs here and is attended not only by millions of Hindu devotees, but millions of the other devotees from all around the globe as well. Prayag is the place where the holy Ganga meets the River Yamuna, the place where these two holy rivers meets is called “Sangam”. Prayag is one of the oldest Ganges pilgrimage in India and is visited by millions of devotes from all over the world.
These three are the most holy and prominent Ganges pilgrimage in India, visit them and you will feel connected to the holy power.