Originating in the Himalayas and flowing into the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges is India’s most important and sacred river. In this unprecedented work, historian Sudipta Sen tells the story of the Ganges, from the communities that arose on its banks to the merchants that navigated its waters, and the way it came to occupy center stage in the history and culture of the subcontinent.
Sen begins his chronicle in prehistoric India, tracing the river’s first settlers, its myths of origin in the Hindu tradition, and its significance during the ascendancy of popular Buddhism. In the following centuries, Indian empires, Central Asian regimes, European merchants, the British Empire, and the Indian nation-state all shaped the identity and ecology of the river. Weaving together geography, environmental politics, and religious history, Sen offers in this lavishly illustrated volume a remarkable portrait of one of the world’s largest and most densely populated river basins.
About the Author
"Ganges is for anyone interested in the history of India or the story of people in a landscape. Sudipta Sen blends geology and ecology with the legendary in a way that is scholarly and sophisticated while always entertaining and often moving to read. Its scope is vast and its accomplishment deeply impressive."--Ruth Harris, University of Oxford
"Written in celebration of the Ganges but tinged with a deep sense of mourning, Sen's book tells of the great river as a nurturer of land, armies, successive layers of civilizations and dynasties, and as a repository for human sin and toxic waste, forcing us to grapple with the river's rich past and its most uncertain future."-- Martha Ann Selby, The University of Texas at Austin