In India rivers are given a divine status. The civilization of India was nurtured in the river basin of the Ganga and the Jamuna which has been the heart of ancient India. The two rivers have, therefore, been worshipped since ancient times. The Ganga has been known for its purity and divinity and the Hindus believe that a bath in her waters cleanses one of all sins. The river Jamuna is known for her devotion. The river Saraswati was worshipped in ancient times when the Aryans lived in Punjab. The Saraswati changed its course in later ages and gradually disappeared in the deserts of Rajasthan. Apart from these three, the other rivers considered sacred are the Godavari, Narmada, Sindhu (Indus) and Kaveri (Cauvery). Some other sacred rivers are Saryu, Gomti, Gandaki, Sabarmati, Tamsa, Chandarbhaga, Shipra and Kratmala.
Around the 4th century A. D. architects began to carve figures of Ganga and Jamuna, in human form, on the two sides of the temple door symbolizing purity (Ganga) and devotion (Jamuna). This was to emphasize that only the pure and devoted could enter the temples. At a later period ii became a common practice to represent the two river goddesses on the two sides of the shrine door in both North and South India.