The river Ganga which originates in the Gangotri
glacier in the snow clad Himalayas, descends down the mountains, reaches the plains at
Haridwar, flows through ancient pilgrimage sites such as Benares
and Prayag, and drains into the Bay of Bengal. Sagar Island, at the mouth of the river
Hooghly in Bengal (accessed from Diamond Harbor), where the Ganga breaks up into hundreds
of streams, and drains into the sea, is honored as a pilgrimage site, signifying the spot
where the ashes of the ancestors of Bhagiratha were purified by the waters of the Ganga
(see the story of the Ganges).
The Kapila muni temple at this site
is a center of worship. The origins of this temple are obscured in antiquity - the current
structure being a recent one, housing a stone block considered to be a representation of
Kapila Muni; there are are also images of Bhagiratha, Rama and Sita.
A dip in the ocean, where the Ganga drains into the
sea is considered to be of great religious significance particularly on the Makara
Sankranti day when the sun makes a transition to Capricorn from Saggitarius and
this town becomes home to vast fairs, drawing visitors and recluses (sanyasis) from
all over the state.