India: Yamuna

The Yamuna, connected to the sacred river of the Ganges, runs a total length of 855 miles (1,376 km). It is the longest and second largest tributary river with cities including Kalpi, Hamirpur and Agra, sit on the river’s bank. Unlike most rivers, the Yamuna does not drain into the sea. The Yamunotri Glacier, sitting at 20,945 feet (6,384 m) acts as the primary water source of the river. Compared to many other bodies of water in India, the Yamuna meets higher quality standards than most. A significant portion of India’s population, roughly 57 million people, relies on the Yamuna, as it supplies Delhi with 70 per cent of the city’s water usage. Similar to the Ganges, the Hinduism views the Yamuna as equally important. People worship the river as goddess Yamuna, with the belief that bathing in the waters allows one to have a peaceful death.


The “dhobis,” India’s women and washermen, use the river’s water to wash clothing. This cleaning service, often sought out by India’s middle and lower class, provides income to hundreds of people. To have a shirt washed and ironed typically costs around 10p. The process consists of collecting clothing door-to-door and heading back to the river. Clothing is soaked and through brute force beat against rocks, which removes dirt and other surface debris. Garments are placed on the banks or hung up on clothing lines to dry. The final step involves the dhobis delivering clean saris and any other articles of clothing to the customer. Due to the rising number of people purchasing automatic washers and dryers, the dhobis face fewer people requiring their service. These machines complete the same amount of work in a single day, compared to the dhobis’ six-day process.