Starting with the Greek Megasthenes who noticed the Indians worshipping the Ganga in 302 B.C. and ending with the New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary who led a jet boat expedition up the river in 1977, travellers of different nationalities and religions have left absorbing accounts of life along the Ganga through the ages. The information provided by them is vast and varied, and we find detailed and delightful descriptions of social customs and ceremonies, periodical fairs and festivals, flora and fauna, and cities and places of pilgrimage which they came across in the course of their travels.
With the gradual emergence of the British as the dominant power in India by the end of the eighteenth century, a number of professional and accomplished British amateur landscape artists also appeared on the scene and made charming sketches while sailing up and down the Ganga. Many of these drawings were subsequently worked up either into beautiful oil paintings and watercolours or into coloured aquatints, lithographs and engravings to illustrate their engrossing descriptions of the river scene.
This book vividly captures the fascination felt by foreign visitors as they travelled along the river during the last two thousand years. The travellers are allowed to speak for themselves as much as possible to enable the reader to enjoy some of the flavour of the original narratives. These written accounts have been blended with the visual impressions of the artist-travellers assembled from private and public art collections and libraries in India, Britain and the U.S.A. Most of this material is being published here for the first time, encompassing the essence of the enchantment and excitement of the travellers of their passage along the Ganga through the centuries.