The sources of two rivers, Gangotri and Yamunotri are devoted to the female deities – Ganga and Yamuna. They both, along with Badrinath and Kedarnath form the Char Dham of the Uttaranchal Hills, the four most hallowed shrines in the Himalayas.
The Ganga, especially, is the river of India, beloved of her people, around which are entwined her memories, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her hopes and fears, her songs of triumph, her victories and defeats. She has been the symbol of India’s age long culture and civilization, ever-changing, ever flowing and yet ever the same Ganga.
Ancient India gave countless names to the Ganga. Among them is Loknadi or River of the World. In its most pristine form, Goddess Ganga as she is reverentially known, first descended to Earth from Heaven at Gangotri where Lord Shiva received her into his matted locks to counter the immense impact of her fall. From there the mighty Ganga emerged into a number of streams; the one which commenced from Yamunotri was termed Yamuna, from Gangotri – Bhagirathi, from Kedarnath – Mandakini and the one which commenced from Badrinath was termed Alaknanda.