The Bhāgīrathī is a turbulent Himalayan river in the state of Uttarakhand, India, that is the source stream of the Ganges-the major river of the Gangetic plain of <span>Northern India</span> and the holy river of Hinduism. The headwaters of the Bhagirathi are formed in the region of the Gangotri and Khatling glaciers in the Garhwal Himalaya. From its source, the river flows for about 700 km (435 mi) before meeting the Alaknanda river at an elevation of 475 m (1,558 ft) in the town of Devprayag. Downstream of this confluence, considered holy by Hindus, the river is known as the Ganga or Ganges. The controversial Tehri dam lies at the confluence of the Bhāgirathi and its tributary, the Bhilangna, near Tehri.
The mainstem, Bhagirathi, rises at Gaumukh (elevation 3,892 metres (12,769 feet)), at the foot of the Gangotri glacier which drains into it. It is then joined by its tributaries; these are, in sequence: the Kedar Ganga at Gangotri (elevation 3,049 m (10,003 ft)), the Jadh Ganga at Bhaironghati (elevation 2,650 m (8,694 ft)), the Kakora Gad and Jalandhari Gad near Harsil (elevation 2,745 m (9,006 ft)), the Siyan Gad near Jhala (elevation 2,575 m (8,448 ft)), the Asi Ganga near Uttarkashi (elevation 1,158 m (3,799 ft)), and finally the Bhilangna near Old Tehri (elevation 755 m (2,477 ft)). The Bhilangna itself rises at the foot of the Khatling <span>Glacier</span> (elevation 3,717 m (12,195 ft)) approximately 50 km (31 mi) south of Gaumukh.
The word “Bhagirathi” (Sanskrit, literally, “caused by Bhagiratha”) refers to a mythological Sagar Dynasty prince who, in order to gain the release his 60,000 great-uncles from the curse of saint Kapila, brought the goddess Ganga in the form of the river Ganges, from the heavens to the earth.
<span>MAP</span> SHOWING THE HIMALAYAN HEADWATERS OF THE BHAGIRATHI RIVER THE NUMBERS IN PARENTHESES REFER TO THE ALTITUDE IN METERS (Download this and view it bigger)
Mistery behind the name Bhagirathi
Once upon a time King Sagara of Ayodhya was doing Ashvamedha Yagya. In order to complete Ashvamedha Yagya a horse which is released when the Yagya starts has to come back to successfully end the Yagya. Until the horse does not comes back the Yagya is considered to be incomplete. So King Sagara released the horse which is released at the start of Yagya. Those who want to perform the Ashvamedha Yagya it means that I consider this kingdom (to implement holy rule on earth) mine till where the horse goes and those who think otherwise will have to fight with me. Indra (the king of Sura or deva’s) was jealous with the Sagara’s kingdom and powers. So he took the horse and tied it behind Maharshi Kapila’s ashrama in Patal loka. After searching horse everywhere on earth when the 60 thousand son’s of King Sagara went to Patal loka and they found the horse tied behind the Kapila muni’s ashram. They thought that Kapila muni himself tied horse behind his Ashram and they said some unholy words to Kapila. Kapila was not even aware of the horse being tied behind his ashram, muni cursed all the 60 thousand son’s to get converted to ashes. All 60 thousand son’s got burned in fire due to muni’s curse and there ashes remained in Patal loka.
King Bhagiratha was the great-great-grandson of king Sagara. He vowed to perform the last right of his forefathers by bringing the holy river Ganges to patal loka and earth. The Ganges that time was only used to flow in Heaven i.e. the kingdom of deva’s king Indra. He continuously prayed for 10 thousand years to Lord Brahma in order to release the holy river Ganges, so that his forefather’s last right could be performed. Lord Brahma got pleased and impressed by King Bhagirath’s continuous prayer and he told Bhagirath to please the Supreme lord Shiva so that when Ganges falls down from Brahma loka to earth she should be controlled by lord Shiva otherwise there was chance that the earth may get flooded by the speed of Ganges. Again the King Bhagirath prayed to Lord Shiva for 10 thousand years.
Lord Shiva got pleased and impressed by Bhagirath’s continuous prayer he took the responsibility of controlling Ganges on earth. Ganges flow in all three loka’s (Earth, Heaven and Patal) that is why it is also called as tripath gamini. Since King Bhagiratha brought Ganges on earth it is also known as Bhagirathi.