Rivers and Lakes
All civilizations have drawn life out of rivers. Rivers have played the most important part in the survival and prosperity of all civilizations in human history.
The rivers of Uttarakhand are no exception in the wholesome bounty they bestow as they flow down mountainous slopes, into narrow gorges and widening into the plains. Born in the deep glacial chambers of the magnificent Himalayas, the mighty rivers of Uttarakhand have brought people together and nurtured their way of life.
If the mountains of Uttarakhand are home to the gods and the goddesses, it is only natural for the rivers rising in the lap of these mountains to carry a lot of religious significance. Many of the rivers therefore borrow names from Hinduism. The holiest of all Hindu rivers, the Ganga, gushes from Gaumukh in the Gangotri Glacier and flows on to nourish the soils of the Indo-Gangetic plain, whilst bringing people closer. A dip in the holy waters of the Ganga promises to wipe the soul’s slate clean of all sin. The confluences of rivers are considered to be extremely important sacred places to which millions of devotees flock every year.
Other famous rivers in the region include the Yamuna, the Bhagirathi and many other tributaries and distributaries such as Dhauli Ganga, Kali Ganga, Girthi Ganga, Rishi Ganga, Bal Ganga, Bhilangna River, Tons River, Alaknanda, Nandakini, Pindar, Kosi and Mandakini. These rivers, along with their tributaries, are vital for irrigation and power-generation for the state. The banks of these venerated rivers are speckled with shrines and temples and are often teeming with devout pilgrims at different times of the year, celebrating big and small festivals, anniversaries and special occasions.
Not only are the rivers of Uttarakhand revered by the devout, but they are also playgrounds for the adventure-bent. Crazy rapids and waterfalls in the upper reaches of the rivers make for exhilarating white water rafting. For the less adventurous, activities like sailing, boating, fishing and angling can be enjoyed whilst soaking in all that Nature has to offer. Treks and riverside camps are other ways one can experience the rivers of Uttarakhand in all their glory.