The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus. It is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. It is worshipped as the goddess Ganga in Hinduism. It has also been important historically, with many former provincial or imperial capitals located on its banks.
The Ganges was ranked as the fifth most polluted river of the world in 2007. Pollution threatens not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin. The levels of fecal coliform from human waste in the waters of the river near Varanasi are more than 100 times the Indian government's official limit. The Ganga Action Plan, an environmental initiative to clean up the river, has been a major failure thus far.
Open Water Swimming
- The annual India National Open Water Swimming Competition is one of the world's longest open water swimming competitions. It features two distances: 81 km (50.3 miles) and 19 km and is held in the River Bhagirathi, organized every year by Murshidabad Swimming Association of Berhampore, Murshidabad, India since 1943.
- Ganga River Long Distance Swimming Competition is a 10 km marathon swim down the Ganges in Patna, capital of Bihar, India.