Running through its heart, quite literally, the river Ganga is lifeline of the country. One of the most densely populated basins in the world, the river breathes life into various forms. Right from the holy aartis on its banks, to glimpses of people’s long-lasting faith in the power of the river, to the reverberations of the chants one can hear on its banks, the river is all encompassing.
Flowing across cities, towns, and villages, it is owing to the river that various life forms and belief systems flourish.
Making its way with twists and turns across geographies, the Ganga river resides in the people’s heart, representing the collective conscious, faith, and heritage of the country.To strengthen the people-river connect, in continuation with developing community level-structures and several innovative programs for outreach, National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in collaboration with Doordarshan (Prasar Bharti) launched the Rag Rag Mein Ganga travelogue series which covers the cultural, mythological, historical, and socio-economic aspects and lifestyle of the Ganga river basin. The first season which began from the Bhagirathi river covered 21 locations and received an overwhelmingly positive response from the people. Subsequently, due to popular demand the second season was launched and went on air from 21st August 2021. In the second season, the journey starts from Alaknanda river and through 26 episodes, covers locations such as Haridwar, Rishikesh, Agra, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Ayodhya, Bhagalpur, Patna, Bodh Gaya, Kolkata, Murshidabad and others.
The first two episodes cover Badrinath, Joshimath, Chamoli and Ukimath from Uttarakhand. It is in Devprayag that river Ganga gets its name at the confluence of river Bhagirathi and river Alaknanda. The latter comprises of five prayags, and Vishnuprayag is the first one wherein river Alaknanda and river Dhauliganga merge and become one. It is also believed that it was out of Alaknanda that the idol of Badrinath emerged and hence became a pilgrim site. The gushing water here makes for a spectacular sight and spending only a few minutes here will leave an everlasting impression on any traveller.
At a distance of 12 km from Vishnuprayag is Joshimath, which is famous for the Narshiman Temple—Lord Badrinath’s winter abode wherein he meditated in peace and then moved further to Badrinath. Come winter and the place is wrapped in a layer of serenity and snow. Even today pilgrims can witness the image of Lord Narsimh in a shila here. As per the local myth, the Badrinath temple is open only till Lord Narshiman resides in the temple. Another popular tourist site is Auli, especially for its cable car which takes one up the mountains for skiing during the winter.
The second episode begins from Garhwal district and introduces the audience to an 80-year rural house in Kimana village. Moving along, in Guptkashi, the Viswanath and Ardhnareshwar Temple is a popular site of worship for Lord Shiva. It is believed that Lord Shiva lived here secretly. The temple is known for having Manikarnika Kund, which is famous for being the meeting point of River Yamuna and Ganga. In Ukhimath, the handloom units are providing livelihood for large number of women and has several women-led SHGs working to earn livelihoods from the sale of organic honey.
Urgamghati Kalpeshwar Temple is one of the Panch Kedar and the only Kedar which remains open throughout the year. The Ukhimath Omkareshwar temple is also known to be the winter abode of Kedarnath and was built 5,000 years ago during the era of the Pandavas.
In Chamoli district, under Namami Gange, people are being trained to produce bio-fertilizers and biopesticides and practice organic farming. This is a critical initiative undertaken by the Chamoli District Administration under Arth Ganga.
Devbhoomi Uttarakhand instills one’s mind and heart with spirituality and is significant in its own way. Another pit-stop for believers is the 2,500-year-old Kalp Vriksh. It is believed that in the entire universe there exists only two Kalp Vrikshs—one in heaven and the other in Joshimath. It is believed that anyone who sits under its mool and has a kalpana (scenario), it will be fulfilled. Interestingly, this tree is also known as the place where Adi Shankarachayra attained enlightenment. Even if one briefly forgets the beliefs associated with the tree, there is still a binding aura in the area. Apart from this, travellers can also indulge in a variety of local food and flavours like mouth-watering biscuits made from Mandwa Atta (flour), locally found variety of flours in Uttarakhand.