I now enter the ever sacred city of Varanasi earlier known as ‘Banaras’. This city and I have a long history. I enter Varanasi as one holy river having added divine waters of Yamuna and Saraswati at the Sangam.

Ganga at Varanasi

One of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi encapsulates all the rituals and symbols of Hindu culture and religion. While other cities in India are interested in modernizing, Varanasi is interested in preserving tradition-and it has ticked all the boxes except one-. Varanasi is the home of sadhus and saints, pundits and pilgrims, yogis and “bogeys”.

It is full of contradictions and complexities in its noise, dirt, and crowd but pure and divine in the prayers of pilgrims.

The one box that hasn’t been ticked for generations is the pollution that I have to suffer in the name of worship.

The living washes away their sin in me, the dead find salvation in my waters. My waters clean the half-burnt human and animal corpses. My basin in Varanasi today holds the most deadly chemicals.

What is happening in Varanasi?

My water is treated by Varanasi Water Works before distribution, people living in Varanasi expect that the Ganga water pollution level does not have any relation to the enteric diseases in the city. Pollutants in water and concentrations are related.

The presence of harmful chemical pollutants and toxic trace elements in natural water in the U.P from Kanpur have been found and its effect on human beings also has been studied.

There are 84 Ghats along with the city of Varanasi. Prayers are performed at the Ghats with gifts, flowers, food and various other things. Many also consider that a dip in my holy water will set them free from their sins. Many consider that the Ghats in Varanasi was built in 1700 AD during the Maratha rule.

Pollution at different levels of Ganga/ Chart Drawn by Harshit Mansukhani/Data.gov.in

Modern-day problems with the Ghats are that they have become the disposal center of industrial effluents, domestic sewage, and human cremation. As

This has led to a manifold increase in water pollution. This is a great concern because the river and the Ghats which are a site of cultural heritage that is also being polluted.

The river surface cleaning is also an important part of cleaning ghats and the river water. Trash skimmer machines and trash booms are deployed in Varanasi etc. to contain floating material and tackle river surface pollution.

Chart 2
Pollution Level in Ganga Chart/Data.gov.in


According to USGS,”A small amount of oxygen, up to about ten molecules of oxygen per million of water, is actually dissolved in waterOxygen enters a stream mainly from the atmosphere and, in areas where groundwater discharge into streams is a large portion of streamflow, from groundwater discharge.”

Ganga Ghat
Sooltankeshwar Ghats in Varanasi that is being redeveloped under the National Mission for Clean Ganga

Every Ghat redeveloped under NMCG in Varanasi will have:

  • Change Rooms
  • Toilets
  • Solar Lighting / High Mast Lights
  • Drinking-Water Facilities
  • ATMs
  • Souvenir shops
  • Chabutras for Seating
  • Repairing of Existing steps
  • and Bathing Platforms Edge Protection Works Railing
  • Safety Chains
  • Trash Bins
  • Composters


6 thoughts on “ In Varanasi: Ganga looking for Moksh ”

  1. Hi ,I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else experiencing problems with your blog. It appears as if some of the written text on your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This might be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before. thanks

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