The Ganga occupies an unrivalled position among the rivers of the world. No other river is so closely identified with a country as the Ganga is with India. Nor has any river elsewhere in the world influenced to a greater extent the life of the country through which it flows. Cities and pilgrimage centres teeming with temples and shrines have sprung up all along its course — milestones in the history of the land and the growth of Indian civilization. The Gangetic plain has indeed been the pole towards which the political, economic and religious life of the country has gravitated.
It is little wonder, therefore, that the river should have caught the imagination of the multitude of foreign visitors to the country through the ages. Travellers of different nationalities and religions visiting India from abroad could not but take note of the Ganga. They have left fascinating accounts of the river scene observed for over two millenia. The information provided by them is vast and varied, and we find detailed and delightful descriptions of customs and ceremonies, periodical fairs and festivals, flora and fauna and the picturesque spots and pilgrimage centres which they came across in the course of their travels along the Ganga.
Besides exhaustive extracts from the foreign travellers’ accounts included in this anthology, the book is also illustrated with some of the fascinating sketches of the river scene made by the landscape artists among them as they went up and down the river.