Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in his speeches always pointed out the sorry state of the river Ganga. Even before the Lok Sabha elections ended, he repeatedly mentioned that he would work towards the betterment of the river's waters. Industrial and domestic waste has polluted the Ganga for many years now, and Modi wants to take steps to save the dying river. He also promised to fulfill Mahatma Gandhi's dream of a clean India starting with cleaning up the Ganga.
Zee Media Group is running a campaign across its network highlighting the problems with the river and engaging the nation's youth in understanding the importance of Ganga to the Indian civilisation.
The Ganga river, in it's massive journey of over 2,500 kms, passes many places. Some places become important, mythologically and historically. Here are some towns which emerged on the banks of the Ganga.
Haridwar is a city which is of utmost importance historically and geographically. Haridwar is revered as one of the holiest places in India. According to Hindu mythology, it was one of the places where amrit, the elixir of immortality was spilled. The town is also called 'Gangadwar' it is here after flowing freely for more than 250 kms, that the river enters the Indo-Gangetic plains for the first time. The Kumbh Mela is held at Haridwar every 12 years, and pilgrims from all over the world flood Haridwar to take a dip in the holy Ganges.
Kanpur, another big town on the banks on the Ganga, was once known as the Manchester of the East, and was a major centre of industrial revolution in the 19th century. It had a large number of cotton textile mills, and several tanneries. Some believe that the name of the city is derived from a Sufi saint Badiuddin Zinda Shah Madar who was settled at the nearby town of Makanpur.
Allahabad is one of the biggest cities in northern India. The hometown of one of Bollywood's most popular stars, Amitabh Bachchan, the town's name means 'Allah's garden' or 'God's garden'. The city is situated at the confluence of three of India's holiest rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Allahabad also hosted the Mahakumbh Mela in 2013, which was the biggest peaceful gathering of people with a footfall of around 100 million pilgrims.
Varanasi is also known as Banaras or Kashi, and is one of the holiest place for Hindus. Hindus also believe that if one dies at Banaras, he/she will attain salvation. The city is the spiritual capital of India, and many Hindu scriptures were written in this land, including Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas.It is also referred to as the 'city of Lord Shiva', and the 'city of learning' as one of India's largest residential universities, the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is located here.
Patna is historically very important for Indians, as in the ancient times it went by the name of Pataliputra and was the capital of the Magadha Empire. The city, which is situated at the southern bank of the Ganges, is a pilgrim centre for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains alike. Even Sikhs revere this city as holy as the Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna.