Rishi Narad was boastful that he was a good singer. In order to subdue his ego, a song competition was organized in the heaven in which all took part. When Hanuman started singing, the melody was so touching that a nearby mountain ‘Meru’ melted into water and sweat came out from Lord Vishnu, thus giving gave birth to the holy river Ganga. Brahma kept Ganga in His Kamandalu or water Jug which became Ganga’s abode.
Lord Vishnu, came onto the earth as incarnation of ‘Dwarf’ or the Bamana Avatar to testify the generosity of King Bali, the ruler of ‘ heaven and the earth’, who offered him to ask to donate anything he liked. Vishnu asked him to give him an area equivalent to three measures of his foot to which King Bali agreed. The whole of the earth come under the first measure of foot of Lord Vishnu, the dwarf. He then put his second foot on the Heaven, when Lord Brahma washed his foot with Ganga who got hidden under the nail of Vishnu’s toe. Ganga is thVishnupada.us known as
Myth further goes on to reveal that, Ganga flew down from the heaven onto the earth, on the request of king Bhagiratha, the fourth generation successor of King Sagara whose 60, 000 sons were burnt ashes with the curse put on them by Kapila Muni. King Sagara arranged for a Aswamedh jyngya for acquiring more power and kingdom. Indra, the king of heaven was scared that his kingdom might be at stake because of Sagara’s acquired power. So, his representatives, stole the ‘horse’ meant sacrifice and hid it at the Ashram of Kapila Muni.
The sons of king Sagara, while searching, found the horse tied at the Ashram of Kapila Muni who was then engrossed in his ‘meditation’ or tapasya. Thinking, it was Kapila Muni’s job, the sons of Sagar started putting abusive words on him. Kapila Muni was deeply dismayed and cursed that 60, 00 sons of Saga be burnt to ashes. When king Sagara begged him apology for the inadvertent mistake committed by his sons, Kapila Muni suggested that if Ganga could be brought from the heaven onto the earth, the holy water would re-enliven the ashes back to life.
Bhagiratha, the fourth generation successor of king Sagar, prayed Lord Vishnu to release Ganga from His toe. But, in order to withstand the force of plunging from the heaven, Ganga first fell onto the matted hair of Lord Shiva, from where, it flew on the earth. King Bhagiratha was following Ganga flowing ahead. On the way, the water of Ganga carried off the kamandalu or jug of Rishi ‘Jsanhu’ who was engrossed in prayer. Being annoyed, Rishi Janhu engulped the whole of Ganga. When requested by king Bhagiratha, Janhu cut his stomach and allowed Ganga to flow further away known as ‘Janhabi’ and finally enliven the 60, 000 sons of king Sagara.
Rishikesh, the confluence of the Ganga and the Chandrabhaga is thus the holiest place for offering prayers to get salvation or Mokshya from rebirth and also for offerings to the departed souls of the closer ones.