The Himalayas and the Ganges
"In these hills, Nature's hospitality eclipses all man can ever do. The enchanting beauties of the Himalayas, their bracing climate and the soothing green that envelope you leaves nothing more to be desired. I wonder whether the scenery of these hills and the climate are to be surpassed, if qualified, by any of the beauty spots of the world."
Home of the Ganga'Sindhu' is the word used for a big river - 'Sapta Sindhu' - the land watered by the seven big rivers, the main streams of the Ganga flowing in the Garhwal. The seven are: The Vishnu Ganga (Alakananda), The Dhauli Ganga, The Nandakini, The Pinder, The Mandakini, The Bhagirathi and The Nayar. The confluence of the seventh river, Nayar with the mainstream of the Ganga has been called 'Sapta Samudrik Teerth' in the Skanda Purana.
Jawaharlal Nehru (The Discovery of India) wrote:
'They move silently and majestically like the seven streams of the Ganges. Rising in the icy heights of Himavat, at Gangotri, the Ganges girdles the region for nearly 500 kilometres, before it enters the plains, encompassing, since aeons, the life of the people of Garhwal. Cradle of the Ganga, and with the climate favourable for the development of terrestrial life.
Through narrow winding gorges, the mighty river carries the message of the snows into the distant plains, the sacred life giver of toiling millions, while in the mountain ranges, waterfalls break into a thousand-cornered spedorama of colours and relentless glaciers wind their way down into dark precipices. The riches of natural beauty, as are found in the Himalayas are not to be seen anywhere here on this earth.
The Ganga, above all (other rivers), is the river of India, which has held India's heart captive and drawn uncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history. The story of the Ganga, from her source to the sea, from old times to the new, is the story of India's civilization and culture, of the rise and fall of empires, of the great and proud cities, of the adventure of man, of the quest of the mind which has so occupied India's thinkers, of the richness and fulfillment of life as well as its denial and renunciation, of ups and downs, of growth and decay, of life and death.'
Nehru in Bhutan on a yak, 1958
"He who thinks of the Himalayas, though he should not behold them, is greater than he who performs all worship in Kashi... As the dew is dried up by the morning sun, so are the , sins of mankind by the sight of the Himalayas."
In the Bhagavata Gita, Lord Krishna commanded his disciple Uddhava to go to Badrikasrama and contemplate on Him. The shastras state that no pilgrimage is complete unless a yatra is performed to the Shrine of Sri Badrinath.
For thousands of years pilgrims have braved the snows and dangers of every mountain pass to reach Kailash, fabulous abode of Shiva, and the eternal waters of the Mana lake, a region of sublime beauty.
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