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From purity to pollution: Journey along Ganga from Uttarakhand plains to Varanasi and beyond

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
The video above is about my Ganga journey from the plains of Uttarakhand to the ancient city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. The journey starts from Lakshaman Jhula in Rishikesh and then moves to Har Ki Pairi in Haridwar and give you a glimpse of its purity and energy till it is in Uttarakhand. The river enters in Uttar Pradesh via a village in district Bijnor. The first major railway bridge on Ganga happened to be at Balawali. 
The water level of the river is reduced drastically by the time it reaches Bijnor and there is absolute drought everywhere. From Bijnor to Garhmukteshwar, the journey is that of depleted water and more pollution. The fact is Ganga is more used for rituals in the plains of Uttar Pradesh than people bothering about its pollution. 
From Garh, as it is popularly known, Ganga moves towards Central Uttar Pradesh and the fertile belt of Ruhail Khand via Moradabad, Bareilly, Shahjahanpur and Hardoi. At Hardoi, Ramganga, another Himalayan river emerging from Uttarakhand, and taking a parallel route, meets Ganga at its border with district Kannauj, famous for ancient Indian emperors such as Harshvardhana and Jaichand. 
In Kannauj several small rivers too flow into Ganga, and it moves towards Kanpur, the biggest city of Uttar Pradesh. Just 30 kilometer ahead of Kanpur is Bithoor, a historical town and Ganga looks like a river, full of water, but it is because of a barrage about 7 kilometer down known as Kanpur Barrage.
Thereafter,  Ganga looks pale in front of what we saw in Bithoor. 
In Kanpur, the industrial and sewage waste flows into the river and continues to pollute it. Ganga forms border between Kanpur and Unnao and moves towards Fatehpur and then to Prayagraj where it meets Yamuna to make the biggest Sangam. From Prayagraj, it moves towards Vindhyachal and passes through Grand Chunar Fort and enters Varanasi. 
The journey in Varanasi is equally fascinating as it is not merely an ancient city for Brahmanical rituals but also enlightenment of Lord Buddha, Saint Ravidas and Kabir. Two so-called rivers too flows into Ganga in here namely, Assi Ganga and Varuna, highly polluted. Ganga moves towards Gazipur but on the way meets Gomti river at village Kaithi. 
At Ghazipur, we visit the tomb of Lord Cornwallis, a British Viceroy in 1805. Ganga forms the boundary between Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It enters Bihar from Chausa and moves on.
Continuing my exploration of communities and history along with river Ganga and its tributaries, after Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh, Ganga enters into Bihar's Buxar region from Chausa, a historically important nondescript town, about 10 kilometres from the district headquarter Buxar. The interesting fact is that river Karmnasha ends its journey here by merging in Ganga which then moves onwards towards Buxar, Chhapra, Bhojpur defining the border between UP and Bihar. 
I covered Gandaki in Sonpur, visited historic Gurudwara Patna Sahib and moved to Munger. The most enchanting and fascinating part of Ganga in Bihar is between Munger, Bhagalpur and Katihar. The second video above takes one to important places such as Sultanganj, Kahalgaon, Vikramshila, Kursela and Manihari. Interestingly, the big ship seen in the video operates as a mode of transportation and goods from Manihari to Sahehbganj.
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*Human rights defender

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