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The Ganges (anglicised from Ganga) is a major river in northern India. It originates as the Bhagirathi River at the Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas, joins the Alaknanda River to form the Ganges, and then flows across the North Indian plains (called the Gangetic Plains). Eventually it splits into many parts and empties into the Bay of Bengal. One part is the Hoogli River near Kolkata, and a major part is the Padma River that enters Bangladesh. The area between Calcutta and the end of the river in the Bay of Bengal is known as the Sunderbans, meaning the Beautiful Forests.
The Ganges is considered a sacred river by Hindus. (See Ganga) It is believed that dipping in the Ganges will wash away one's sins, and that having one's ashes disposed of in the Ganges after death may improve one's next life or even allow Moksha to be attained sooner. Devout Hindus make pilgrimages to bathe in the Ganges and to meditate on its banks.
The Ganges is also notable in that it contains a rare species of freshwater shark, Glyphis gangeticus about which little is known.