river miles stream bengal feet
GANGES, a river of northern India, formed by the drainage of the southern ranges of the Himalayas. This mighty stream, which in its lower course supplies the great river system of Bengal, rises in the Garhwhl state, and falls into the Bay of Bengal after a course of 1500 miles. It issues, under the name of the Bhagirathi, from an ice cave at the foot of an Himalayan snow bed near Gangotri, 10,300 feet above the level of the sea. During its earlier passage through the southern spurs of the Himalayas, it receives the Jahnavi from the north-west, and subsequently the Alak-,anda, after which the united stream takes the name of the Ganges. Deo Praytig, their point of junction, is a celebrated place of pilgrimage, as is also Gangotri, the source of the parent stream. At Sukhi it pierces through the Himalayas, and turns south-west to Hardwar, also a place of great sanctity. It proceeds by a tortuous course through the districts of Debra Dan, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnager, Bulandshahr, and Farrukhabad, in which last district it receives the Bamgangit. Thus far the Ganges has been little more than a series of broad shoals, long deep pools, and rapids, except, of course, during the melting of the snows and throughout the rainy season. At Allahabad, however, it receives the Jumua, a mighty sister stream, which takes its rise also in the Himalayas to the west of the sources of the Ganges. The combined river winds eastwards by south-east through the North-Western Provinces, receiving the Gtunti and the Gogra. The point of junction of each of these streams has more or less pretension to sanctity. But the tongue of land at Allahabad, where the Jumna and the Ganges join, is the true Praya.s., the place of pilgrimage, to which'hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus repair to wash away their sins in the sacred river. Shortly after passing the holy city of Benares, the Ganges enters Behar, and after receiving an important tributary, the Son, from the south, passes Patna, and obtains another accession to its volume from the Gandak, which rises in Nepal. Further to the east, it receives the Kusi, and then, skirting the Rajmalnil hills, turns sharply to the southward, passing near the site of the ruined city of Gads. By this time it has approached to within 210 miles, as the crow flies, from the sea. About 20 miles further on, it begins to branch out on the level country, and this spot marks the commencement. of the delta, 220 miles in a straight line, or 300 by the windings of the river, from the Bay of Bengal. The main channel takes the name of the Padma or Padda, and proceeds in a south-easterly direction, past Palma to Goalanda, above which it is joined by the Jamuna or main stream of the Brahmaputra. The vast confluence of waters rushes towards the sea, receiving further additions from the hill country on the east, and forming a broad estuary known under the name of the Meglma, which enters the flay of Bengal near Noakludi. This estuary, however, is only the largest and most easterly of a great number of mouths or channels, The most westerly is the Hagli or Hooghly which receives the waters of a number of distributary channels that start from the parent Ganges in the neighbourhood of Murshidabad. Betv)een the Hagli on the west and the Meglinta on the east lies the delta. The upper angle of it consists of rich and fertile districts, such as Murshidabad, Nadiya, Jessor, and the 24 Parganas. But towards its southern base, resting on the sea, the country sinks into a series of great swamps, intercepted by a network of innumerable channels. This wild waste is known as the Sundarbans, from the sundari tree, which grows in abundance in the sea-board tracts. The most important channel of the Ganges for commerce is the Hiigli, on which stands Calcutta, about 90 miles from the mouth. Beyond this city, the navigation is conducted by native craft, - the modern facilities for traffic by rail, and the increasing shoals in the river, having put an end to the previous steamer communication, which plied until about 1860 as high up as Allahabad. Below Calcutta important boat routes through the delta connect the Hfigii with the eastern branches of the river, both for native craft and steamers. The Ganges is essentially a river of ()Teat cities : Calcutta, Monghyr, Patna, Benares, and Allahand, all lie on its course below its junction with the Jumna and the ancient capitals, Agra and Delhi, are on the Jumna, higher up. The catchment basin of the Ganges is bounded on the N. by a length of about 700 miles of the Himalayan range, on the S. by the -Vindlaya, mountains, and on the E. by the ranges which separate Bengal from Burmah. The vast river basin this enclosed embraces 432,480 square miles. The flood discharge of the Ganges at Bitjmahal, after it has received all its important tributaries, was formerly estimated at 1,350,000 cubic feet per second. According to the latest calculations, the length of main stream of Ganges is 1510 miles, or with its longest affluent, 1680; breadth at true entrance, 20 miles; breadth of channel in dry season, 1+ to 21 miles ; depth in dry season, 30 feet ; flood discharge, 1,800,000 cubic feet per second ; ordinary discharge, 207,000 cubic feet ; longest duration of flood, about 40 days. The average descent of the river from Allahabad to Benares is 6 inches per mile from Benares to Calcutta, between 4 and 5 inches ; from Calcutta to the sea, 1 to 2 inches. Great changes take place from time to time in the river bed, which alter the face of the country. Extensive islands arc thrown up, and attach themselves to the mainland, while the river deserts its old bed and seeks a new channel, it may be many miles off. Such changes are so rapid and on so vast a scale, and the corroding power of the current on the bank so irresistible, that in Lower Bengal it is considered perilous to build any structure of a large or permanent character on the margin. Many decayed or ruined cities attest the changes in the river bed in ancient times ; and within our own times the main channel which formerly passed Ilajmaleal has turned away from it, and left the town high and dry, 7 miles from the bank.