The upper Ganges supplies water to extensive irrigation works. The river passes the holy bathing sites at Haridwar , Allahabad (where the Yamuna River enters the Ganges), and Varanasi . Below Allahabad the Ganges becomes a slow, meandering stream with shifting channels.
The lower Ganges is joined by the Brahmaputra River W of Dhaka, Bangladesh, to form the Padma, its main channel to the sea. The united rivers branch into many distributaries, forming the vast and fertile Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, which stretches from the Hugli River on the west to the Meghna on the east. The delta region covers roughly 25% of India's total territory and supports upwards of 300 million people. The delta's southern fringe, a great wilderness of swamp, dense timber forest, small islands, and tidal creeks, is known as the Sundarbans ; it has been the site of land reclamation projects. This low-lying area has repeatedly suffered great devastation from cyclones and coastal flooding. Kolkata , India, and Chittagong , Bangladesh, are the delta's main seaports.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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