The river Ganga is about 2496 kms. from source to the sea. It can be divided into three parts depending on the region it flows through the Mountain stage, the Plain stage and the Delta stage.The main tributaries are- Bhagirathi, Alaknanda, Mandakini, Gandak, Ghagra, and Kosi. Some tributaries like the Chambal and Betwa are in the plateau region.
The Ganga in its earlier course at Gangotri flows through rocks , smooth with ice and water . At Gangotri, is a small temple dedicated to the Goddess Ganga.
Deva prayag- This is at the confluence of the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi. It is a vey holy city. It is sanctified to be the holiest Prayag. It is from this place that the river is called GANGA. Snana (bathing) and Yagnas (sacrifices) are performed here.
Kedarnath is a holy city at an elevation of 3560 mts.on the banks of Alaknanda. The temple here is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It contains the "Jyothirlinga" (Symbols of Shiva).
Badrinath The town of Badrinath , 168 kms. from Kedarnath , lies on the western bank of Alaknanda , in a valley nearly 2 kms wide, dominated by lofty peaks Narparbat and Narayanparbat. The temple of Badrinath was founded by Shankara, the ninth century philosopher, and is dedicated to Badrinarayan a manifestation of Lord Vishnu.
From Devaprayag to Rishikesh, there is an unending series of rapids, tossing and foaming as they rush vertically down, with pine, deodar and oak trees on its banks.
Rishikesh- This is one of the most holiest places for Hindus. It is a maze of temples, ashrams and ghats, a haven for sadhus, yogis and gurus. The famous bridge across the Ganga - "LAKSHMAN JHOOLA" meaning the swing built by Lakshman across the river to help his brother Ram cross it, is seen here.
Haridwar- is in Uttar Pradesh State, India. Hardwar is an ancient town on the River Ganges, located between the Ganges plain and the Himalayan foothills, and is one of the seven Hindu holy cities .The Plain stage of the river starts here. So, it is also called Gangadwar "The gate of the Ganga".. A Hindu centre of pilgrimage, there is a footprint on a stone on the riverbank at Hari-ki-Pari, believed to be the footprint of Vishnu. Pilgrims fill their copper vessels with Gangajal , and at dusk - the time of Aarti (prayer) , the sound of gongs, drums, conches, and cymbals reverberate as small lighted earthen lamps are set afloat downstream, out onto the river. The Ganga is broadest at Haridwar. People take a holy dip in the river. On KUMBH MELA which comes once in twelve years, tourists throng this place.
The Daksheshwar Temple adjoins the sacred riverbank and many pilgrims visit the site and bathe in the Ganges. Dikhanti, "the birth of the river", is celebrated in Hardwar every spring and the Kumbha Mela festival is held here every 12 years. There is a hydroelectric plant nearby, and water is drawn from the Ganges for the Upper Ganga Canal. Population (1991) 147,305.
The Ganga Canal draws a major portion of water from the main river to be sent to the Doab the densely populated land between the Ganga and the Yamuna.