The civilization in India came into being and flourished on the banks of the River Ganges. Since many cultural events took place near its bank, which includes the penning of three Vedas, many people in India consider it as the sacred river. Incidentally, it is also the longest river in India. This is the reason we can find ample mention of this river in the last three Vedas – Yajur, Sama and Atharva. It also has stood as the economic lifeline and the elixir of life on the fertile plains of North India. People can find the reference to this simple-looking river in many holy books. Hence, Indians believe that its waters have extraordinary healing powers. In this article, we would be looking at the 6 little known or lesser known facts about the River Ganges.
1. Antibacterial Nature: From time immemorial, people believe that the water from the River Ganges is pure. Hence, they use this holy water for some Hindu rituals. Is there any substance to this perception materially? The answer to this question was given by a British Bacteriologist Ernest Hanbury Hankin who did some test on water drawn from the River Ganges. He found that the virulent form of bacteria Vibrio Cholerae could thrive in the Ganges water for only three hours. The same bacteria could thrive for many hours even in distilled water.
2. Anti-putrefaction Property: Normally river waters tend to putrefy due to the explosive growth of anaerobic bacteria when there is insufficient supply of pure oxygen. The dirtiest of waters from the Ganges are found to stay fresh even after hours of storage without undergoing a putrefaction process.
3. High Oxygen Content: The River Ganges is able to bring down its biochemical oxygen content faster than other Indian rivers. This truth is testified by an Indian Environmental Engineer D.S. Bhargava. He suggests that an unknown substance dissolved in the Ganges waters prevents putrefaction of organic material and kills the bacteria present in it.
4. Ganges Fans: The holy river forms largest of underwater geological structures due to the large-scale sedimentation from river. The geologists call these as submarine fans. The one formed by the River Ganges forms the largest submarine fan on earth. The research scientists from Geological Survey of India believe that this fan completely covers the Bay of Bengal. It has travelled through the underwater canyons and preserves the dead organisms to form huge deposits of hydrocarbons.
5. River Ganges Experiences Water Shortages: In the current world, the India’s largest river is experiencing severe water shortage. Around Kashi or Varanasi, the average river depth was 60 metres in the past. At some places, it has come down to just 10 metres. There are several reasons contributing to this alarming situation. One reason could be the fast receding of the Gangotri Glacier. Other reasons could be the poor water management, over population and dumping of industrial waste and sewerage mixing with river water.
6. Size of River Ganges: Its size is difficult to find out the sheer size of the Ganges. Its river system is very complicated, especially when we consider its deltas. It has complex tributaries and a number of branching points in the Bengal plains, making it highly difficult to judge the length of the river.