Images from the documentary Go Ganges!, which we'll be screening here on Thursday, November 29, 2012, between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET. The film follows two friends as they travel down India’s 1,557-mile holy river by cycle-rickshaw, rowboat, and any means necessary.
“We’re floating on a river of poo,” observes filmmaker J.J. Kelley. With more than 1/3 of India’s population of 1.2 billion relying on the Ganges for water, it has also become one of the world’s most polluted rivers.
The headwaters of the Ganges in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, India, flows out of the terminus of the Gangotri Glacier—the largest in the Himalayas—at a place called Gomukh (literal translation: “Cow face” or “the cow’s mouth”) at about 13,000 feet.
The 20-square-mile reservoir formed by the Tehri Dam near the Ganges' headwaters holds water from the world’s most populated river basin.
The river runs through the foothills of the Himalayas.
The team’s handmade boat, which they bought in Kanpur for $100, came complete with bamboo oars, and, according to the team’s cameraman, Dave Costello, “leaked remarkably well."
Despite being one of the world’s most polluted rivers, millions of Indians rely on it every day for drinking water, irrigation, and even fishing.
Making camp: Each night, the team camped without a tent, stove, or other modern camping gear. “We wanted to travel and experience the river as the locals do,” said filmmaker Josh Thomas.
Sunrise on the Ganges: J.J. Kelley and Josh Thomas halfway through their 1,557-mile source to sea down India’s National River.
The filmmakers row into the ancient and holy Hindu city of Varanasi (Benares).
In the city of Haridwar Hindu worshipers come to pay their respects to the Ganges, which they believe is a Goddess that can wash away their sins and deliver deceased loved ones to Nirvana.
Filmmaker J.J. Kelley roadside with the team’s cycle-rickshaw, which they used to peddle over 310 miles along the river, from Haridwar to Kanpur.
Josh Thomas preparing to take his first shift of the day on the cycle-rickshaw. The three-man team switched off peddling duties each hour for nine hours a day.
After cameraman Dave Costello came down with a severe case of amoebic dysentery, the team opted to buy an old Vespa scooter to help expedite the final leg of their journey to the Bay of Bengal.
Sunset through the grass at the mouth of the Ganges: After 45 days and 1,557-miles, Kelley, Thomas, and Costello made it to the Indian Ocean with over 80 hours of raw footage.