The largest tributary to the Ganga is the Ghaghara, which meets it before Patna, in Bihar, bearing much of the Himalayan glacier melt from Northern Nepal. The
Gandak, which comes from near Katmandu, is another big Himalayan tributary. Other important rivers that merge with the Ganga are the Son, which originates in the hills of Madhya
Pradesh, the Gomti which flows past Lucknow, and then meets with the river Chambal.
On its way it passes the towns of Mirzapur, Varanasi, Patna and Bhagalpur. At Bhagalpur, the river meanders past the Rajmahal Hills, and beings
to change course southwards. At Pakaur, the river begins its first attrition with the branching away of its first distributary, the River Bhagirathi, which goes on to form the River
Hooghly. Close to the border with Bangladesh, the Farakka Barrage, built in 1974 controls the flow of the Ganges, diverting some
of the water into a feeder canal linking the Hooghly to keep it relatively silt free.
After entering Bangladesh, the main branch of the Ganges is known as Padma River till it is joined by the Jamuna River the
largest distributaries of the Brahmaputra. Further downstream, the Ganges is fed by the Meghna River, the
second largest distributaries of the Brahmaputra (ब्रम्हपुत्र) River and takes on its name. Fanning
out into the 350 km (220 mi) wide Ganges Delta, it empties out into the Bay of Bengal. The delta of the Ganga, or rather, that of the
Hooghly River and the Padma, is a vast ragged swamp forest (42,000 sq km) called the
Sundarbans world’s largest Ganga delta
Varanasi (वाराणसी) also known as Benares or Kashi (काशी) situated on the banks of the River Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, regarded as most holy
place by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. It is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, believed to be about 3,000 years
old..Varanasi is referred as the city of temples , the holy city of India , the religious capital of India , the city of lights
and the city of learning. The importance of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganga.and has many temples along its banks.
Hindus believe that bathing in Ganga remits sins and that dying in Kashi ensures release of a persons soul from the cycle of its
transmigrations. Varanasi is one of the holiest places in Buddhism too, being one of the four pilgrimage sites said to have been
designated by Gautama Buddha
More than 1,000,000 pilgrims visit the city each year. It has the holy shrine of Kashi Vishwanath (a manifestation of Lord
Shiva), and also one of the twelve revered Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva (शिव). Varanasi has nearly 100 ghats, most of
them are bathing ghats, while others are used as cremation sites. Varanasi is famous by its Jantar Mantar, Archaeological
museum, Bharat Kala Bhavan, The New Vishwanath Temple, Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat, Banaras Hindu University and Banarasi Silk.
. A recent study by the Ganga Lab and River Ecosystem Environment Management and Training Centre at the
Benaras Hindu University (BHU) has found that the quantity of (original) Ganga jal could in fact be less than 1 per cent in Varanasi
The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) Phase-II project which should have been completed by March this year in Varanasi, has so far attained
only 12% progress. A sewage treatment plant (STP) of 140 MLD assisted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under GAP-II has
been proposed in Varanasi, and it was sanctioned in July 2010. It was expected that the project would be completed by March 2013. But,
according to the record of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), the progress status of the project as on June 30, 2013 is only 12%.
One of the reasons for the delay is the unavailability of land.
Another STP of 120 MLD to be implemented under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) is also in the process of
beginning. It may be mentioned here that the World Bank approved a fund of one billion dollars to achieve the objective of Mission Clean Ganga.
Sangam at Allahabad the holy confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati revered by millions and the site for historic Mahakumbh
held once every 12 years- seems to be under threat. In the Magh Mela, thousands are taking a dip into the Ganga to rid
themselves of sins. But, the fact is that the river water has become toxic and unfit for bathing. The untreated water from various nullahs
in the city is flowing into the Ganga, thus polluting the river water. Besides, the ever-increasing human settlements in Kachar (catchment
area of river) area have added to the burden of the river. About 287 million litres of sewage flow into the Ganga in Allahabad only, 400
million litres of sewage in Kanpur and 300 million litres go into it in Varanasi.
In Patna, the Ganga was flowing above the danger mark on September 8, 2013 but the city was
safe from flood. The toll in floods this year (2013) has gone up to 132. Over 5 million people were affected due to the floods in the
Ganga and its tributaries Sone, Budhi Gandak, Kosi and Gandak. The rivers are not showing receding trend so far as on September 8, 2013.
The main branch of the Ganga, the Padma, passes through the Farraka Barrage, a gigantic barrier designed to divert the Ganga waters into the Hooghly branch,
and away from the Padma. Completed by the Indian government in the early 1970s, it was intended to help flush out the increasing
silt deposits in the Hooghly, to improve navigation, and to provide Kolkata with irrigation and drinking water.
About 150 large industrial plants are lined up on the banks of the Hooghly River around Kolkata.
Together, these plants contribute 30 percent of the total industrial effluent reaching the mouths of the Ganga. Of this, half comes from
pulp and paper industries, which discharge a dark brown, oxygen-craving slurry of bark and wood fiber, mercury and other heavy
metals which accumulate in fish tissues, and chemical toxins like bleaches and dyes, which produce dioxin and other persistent compounds.
Holding the city's leather industry responsible for polluting the Ganges, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on
September 5, 2013 protested against the industry's release of toxic waste (from leather tanneries) straight into the river.
The delta of the Ganga, or rather, that of the Hooghly and the Padma, is a vast ragged swamp
forest (42,000 sq km) called the Sundarbans the world’s largest delta , home of the Royal Bengal
Tiger. The river courses in the delta are broad and active, carrying a vast amount of water. On the seaward side of the delta are
swamplands and tidal forests called Sunderbans which are protected conservation areas in both Indian and Bangladeshi law. The peat found
in the delta is used for fertilizer and fuel. The water supply to the river depends on the rains brought by the monsoon winds from July to
October and the melting snow from the Himalayas during the period from April to June. The delta also experiences strong cyclonic storms
before and after the monsoon season which can be devastating.
The delta used to be densely forested and inhabited by many wild animals. Today, however, it has become intensely cultivated to
meet the needs of the growing population and many of the wild animals have disappeared. The Royal Bengal Tiger still lives in the Sunderbans and kills about 30 villagers every year. There remains
high fish populations in the rivers which provides an important part of the inhabitants' diet. Bird life in the Ganges basin is also prolific.