King Dilip, son of Anshuman pleaded with Lord Brahma to help them bring the Ganga to earth. He failed to appease Brahma so he passed the task to his son, Bhagiratha. Bhagiratha was able to please Brahma, who ordered Ganga to descent to Earth. The furious Ganga felt this as an insult and decided to destroy Earth with her force while descending from heaven. Bhagiratha was warned by Brahma that earth will not be able to hold Ganga while descending from heaven, so he must seek the help of Lord Shiva, the only one who can withstand the power of Ganga. Bhagiratha pleaded with Lord Shiva to help him and Shiva agreed to receive Ganga in his matted locks. Ganga was arrogant and tried to drown Shiva by pushing him to the core of the earth, but the mighty Shiva easily held her in his locks. Shiva’s tie was so strong that Ganga became helpless.
Lord Shiva wanted to teach Ganga a lesson, but instead released her in seven streams as he was satisfied with the prayers of Bhagiratha. The seven streams of Ganga are Bhagirathi, Janhvi, Bhilangana, Mandakini, Rishiganga, Saraswati and Alaknanda. Ganga became calm and followed Bhagiratha, who lead her to his ancestors and with her purity, released their souls.