After union water resources minister Uma Bharti asked scientists at the Roorkee-based National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) to explore if the Ganga has its origins in Kailash Mansarovar and not Gaumukh near Gangotri as is popularly believed, scientists say they will be using water isotopes tracer technology to track the river’s source.
“We are carrying out a fresh study to scientifically examine the possibility of Mansarovar Lake being the source of Ganga. The water-isotopes pattern of water samples taken from Mansarovar and Gangotri will confirm the origin of the river,” R D Singh, director, NIH, told TOI.
Incidentally, NIH has an observatory at Bhojwasa near the Gangotri glacier where several studies have been conducted on the Ganga. “Our research so far has showed that Ganga has its source at Gaumukh. The new task is a challenging one as we are heading into a completely different direction,” said Manohar Arora, the institute’s expert on the Gangotri glacier.
Bharti’s contention on the river’s origin conforms to the popular Hindu notion that Ganga descended from the locks of Shiva and therefore, has a connection with Kailash Mansarovar, regarded as Shiva’s abode. SC Bahuguna, secretary of Uttarakhand Sanskrit Academy, Haridwar, says that “several scriptures speak about the Ganga and Mansarovar being connected”. But on a practical level, can the river have its origins at a place over 200 km away from Gaumukh, the point where its waters are first sighted? Singh says the possibility cannot be ruled out.