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Ganges: Land of Adventure, Culture and Serenity

November 11, 2013

It’s a place steeped in history, tradition, and beauty, but sometimes the Ganges River gets a bad rap. Sure, there is the terrible pollution and poverty that surrounds the river, but a visit to the Ganges River in India shows that the region has so much more to offer.

Feeling up for an adventurous and unique travel opportunity? Look no further than the world’s second largest river. It is said that the Ganges needs to be fully felt, not just seen. And it’s true—the river and surrounding areas are full of sights, smells, and sounds in a world all their own.

Here are a few travel tips to Ganges River India, and proof that there is something for everyone in this diverse and beautiful region.

Avid Adventurer

Each summer, the Ganges is full of rafting groups. The river runs for nearly 1,600 miles (more than 2,500 km) and offers a wide variety of conditions. From terrifying white water rapids to calm flowing waters, the Ganges is paradise for an adventure seeker—there are routes of practically any length and difficulty level. A popular rapid region is the stretch between Rishikesh and Haridwar, and is not for the faint of heart. A number of rafting outfitters are located along the river. Ask locals for recommendations and be sure to check safety reports of the company before getting on board.

Along your river ride, you’ll see the beautiful countryside of India and Bangladesh. If you prefer to take in the scenery without having to hold on to the raft for dear life, boat and recreational raft companies also offer tours up and down the river and can give you the feel of being on the river without the feel of ending up in the river.

For the Culture Quester

The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus and is central to each of their rituals and ceremonies, so it provides a great opportunity for a front row seat to this vibrant culture and religion. Hindus make a pilgrimage to the Ganges and bathe in its waters to be cleansed of their sins and gain salvation. The banks of the river are lined with ghats, steep stairs used to bring people to the water. On any given day, visitors can watch a number of funeral ghats, or somber family gatherings to wash and cleanse the dead. A happier occasion to witness are the bright and colorful weddings that occur on the river’s banks.

A dip in the Ganges is a sacred experience to Hindus and should be treated with respect. But that’s not to say that the banks of the river are a quiet place—they are full of excitement and chatter and offer a great glimpse into the Hindu culture. A nightly ritual along the Dashashwamedh Ghat gives visitors full view of a traditional priest ceremony full of prayer, drums, and conch shells in devotion to Mother Ganges. Get there early for a good seat and prepare to be wowed.

For the Serenity Seeker

If yoga is your thing, the area around the Ganges, particularly the city of Varanasi, offers fabulous yoga retreats. A number of local studios offer practices designed for tourists with a view of the sacred and powerful Ganges.

The nature around the river provides peaceful and tranquil places to get away. Ask a local or your yoga instructor for recommendations of hikes along the banks. With such a variety of landscape, there is sure to be something to strike your fancy. A particularly peaceful experience can be found in floating candles down the river at dusk—local children selling candles shouldn’t be hard to find.

Spas abound around the Ganges. The Jiva Spa provides a safe and natural signature treatment that follows Indian purifying rituals and uses water from the Ganges (purified, don’t worry), followed by a deep massage.

The Ganges River offers unique attractions and can be a once in a lifetime trip. Get your group together and start planning your Ganges trip today on Trekeffect!

Michelle Kaiser

Michelle Kaiser