The Ganges or Ganga, is the largest river in India. It is 2.525 km long and crosses the whole country. The Ganges basin is the most heavily populated river basin in the world, with over 400 million people. It’s the most sacred river to Hindus and is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs.
No place along her banks is more longed for at the moment of death by Hindus than Varanasi. It is the holiest place in Hinduism and often referred to as “the holy city of India“. Those who are lucky enough to die in Varanasi, are cremated on the banks of the Ganges & granted instant salvation. There are exceptions; pregnant women, children, holy people and people who died from a snake bite are not cremated but are lowered into the river. Sooner or later they will show up at the surface again … Everything might be holy in Varanasi but nobody bothers if a dead body floats by … and they float by quite often. This is something we have never seen before but it’s nothing special in India. We would say: “dawn of the dead reality show daily from your hotel terrace” … To some of you, this shot might be too much for posting here but this is the brutal reality. So, this also means that there’s a lot pollution; the Ganges suffers from extreme pollution levels. Sewage from many cities along the river’s course, industrial waste and religious offerings wrapped in non-degradable plastics add large amounts of pollutants to the river as it flows through densely populated areas. The problem is that many poor people rely on the river on a daily basis for bathing, washing, and cooking.
The people in Varanasi don’t seem to care about the pollution of the Ganges. As I said before, for many this is the only opportunity to take a shower. Varanasi (already a city of millions) is visited by many thousands of pilgrims each year who want to take a “holy dip” in the Ganges. Only this city releases around 200 million litres of untreated human sewage into the river each day.