Around 16 million pilgrims joined the 2010 Kumbh mela festival in Haridwar by the shore of the Ganges river. The gathering is the biggest religious festival in the world. The water that begins it's flow from the glaciers in the Himalaya and Tibetan plateau is a freshwater lifeline for nearly 20 percent of the Worlds population, almost 1,5 billion people. Around 18,000 glaciers store a massive 12,000 square kilometres of freshwater here. Together with snow-melt they contribute to the summer flow of Ganges and other major life giving rivers such as the Indus, Brahmaputra, Yangtze and Yellow Rivers.