Patna : Two Germans have set out on elephant and camel backs for an innovative expedition to learn more about the history, culture and folklore of the river Ganges and the everyday lives of the people who live along it.
Pir and Gill aim to bring German and Indian cultures closer by their voyage of discovery of one of India’s most important rivers that originates in the mountainous heights of Gomukh in Uttaranchal.
The duo, in the 30s, left Patna for Gomukh earlier this week on their 60-day trek.
Impressed by age-old stories around the Ganges — that attracts millions during festivals and for a dip in the holy river — the two German friends will meet people for whom the river is a lifeline.
“There were hundreds of folk stories about life and cultures flourishing along the Ganges for ages. We would like to know more about it through this expedition,” Gill said.
During their expedition, the duo will cover important cities on the banks of the Ganges including Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Gangotri.
All these cities have ancient roots.
“We strongly feel that we are yet to know more about life around the Ganges. Our expedition is a small step to discover more about it,” Pir said.
According to officials of the Sanjay Gandhi Zoological Park here, the two Germans had performed special prayers with Hindu rites outside the gate of the park before setting out. “They had hired an elephant and camel for their expedition,” a park official said.
About 10 years ago, the pair travelled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari on a bicycle. “We want to make closer ties and people-to-people friendship between the two countries,” one of them said.
They expressed concern over shrinking of the Ganges, which has already shifted its natural course near Patna. It now flows over two kilometres away from the city because of silting and pollution.
The river, held sacred by Hindus, becomes highly polluted as it reaches Patna.