Describing about the reason why river Ganga was brought down on the earth, Lord Mahadeva told Narada— King Bhagirath was the architect of Ganga’s arrival on the earth. He wanted to liberate his dead ancestorss from the curse of Sage Kapila. King Sagar came from the lineage of the famous king–Harishchandra. Sagar had two queens. The elder queen had sixty thousand sons while the younger queen had just one–Panchajan. Panchajan’s son was Anshuman, who himself was the father of Dilip. Dilip was the father of Bhagirath.
Bhagirath did an austere penance on the Himalayas for ten thousand years. As a result, river Ganga descended on the earth. I (Shiva) held her in the locks of my hair and she remained there for ten thousand more years. Bhagirath requested me to release Ganga so that his ancestors could be liberated. I agreed to release Ganga and Bhagirath took her to the Patalloka where his ancestor’s had been charred to death due to Kapila’s curse. Bhagirath sprinkled the water of Ganga on the ashes of his ancestors and each of them attained salvation as a result. Eventually, Ganga resurfaced at Haridwar–the most sacred place of pilgrimage.