The two cities considered holiest in India, Varanasi and Hardwar are situated on the banks of Ganges. These two cities and Allahabad are famous for religious worshipping, as every 12 years alternatively, Kumbh Mela (the largest religious fair in the world) is organized in these cities, allowing everyone to wash away their sins. The river Ganges is even mentioned in holy textbooks of Hinduism, Rig Veda, which is predicted to be 4000 years old.
Many families also consider keeping a vial of Ganges water in the house as auspicious and also necessary to give to a dying person to drink it. Even scattering ashes over Ganges of loved ones after their death is a custom to be followed by every Hindu, which is mandatory, as it is believed, this will help the dead attain salvation. The city of Varanasi is famous as the cremation ground for pious Hindus. Among several temples in Varanasi, Kashi Vishwanath Temple along the banks of the Ganges is believed to be very sacred.
The importance of Ganges spread over to the European countries through the writings of Megasthenes. In Ca. 350 – 290 BCE, Megasthenes, a traveler wrote about India and the River Ganges in his work, Indica. Even the river Ganges has been given tribute in a famous sculpture, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (fountain of the four rivers) in Piazza Navona, in Rome designed by Gian Lorenzo. This sculpture symbolizes the four main rivers of the world, namely, the Ganges, the Danube, the Nile and the Río de la Plata.
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