The Ganges (/ˈɡændʒiːz/ gan-jeez), also Ganga (Hindi: गंगा; Bengali: গঙ্গা ; Sanskrit: गङ्गा) (Hindustani pronunciation: [ˈɡəŋɡaː] gung-ga), is a trans-boundary river of Asia which flows through India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is the third largest river by discharge.
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 (such as Pataliputra, Kannauj, Kara, Kashi, Allahabad, Murshidabad, Munger, Baharampur, Kampilya, and Kolkata) 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 Ganga Action Plan, an environmental initiative to clean up the river, has been a major failure thus far, due to corruption, lack of technical expertise, good environmental planning, and support from religious authorities.