Bagmati River

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This article is about the river. For the region, see Bagmati Zone.
Coordinates: 26°07′19″N 85°42′29″E / 26.12194°N 85.70806°E / 26.12194; 85.70806
Bagmati (बागमति)
River
Pashupatinath2.jpg
Bagmati River at Pashupatinath Temple
Country Nepal
State Bagmati Zone
Cities Kathmandu, Patan
Source
 - coordinates 27°46′16″N 85°25′38″E / 27.77111°N 85.42722°E / 27.77111; 85.42722
Mouth Confluence with Lakhandei River
 - coordinates 26°07′19″N 85°42′29″E / 26.12194°N 85.70806°E / 26.12194; 85.70806

The Bagmati River (Nepal Bhasa:बागमती खुसी, Nepali: बागमती नदी) is a river of Nepal. It flows through the Kathmandu valley and separates Kathmandu from Lalitpur. It is considered a holy river by Hindus and Buddhists. A number of Hindu temples are located on its banks.

The importance of Bagmati also lies in the fact that Hindus are cremated on the banks of this holy river, and Kirants are buried in the hills by its side. According to the Nepalese Hindu tradition, the dead body must be dipped three times into the Bagmati River before cremation. The chief mourner (usually the first son) who lights the funeral pyre must take a holy river-water bath immediately after cremation. Many relatives who join the funeral procession also take a bath in the Bagmati River or sprinkle the holy water on their bodies at the end of cremation. The Bagmati River purifies the people spiritually.

History[edit]

View of Bagmati River at Sundarijal
Bagmati River, 1950s

The Bagmati River is considered the source of Nepalese civilization and urbanization.[1] The river has been mentioned as Vaggumuda (वग्गुमुदा) in Vinaya Pitaka and Nandabagga.[1] It has also been mentioned as Bahumati (बाहुमति) in Battha Suttanta of Majjhima Nikaya.[1] An inscription dated 477 AD describes the river as Bagvati parpradeshe (वाग्वति पारप्रदेशे) and subsequently in Gopalraj Vanshavali.[1]

View of Bagmati River from Sundarijal, Kathmandu, Nepal

Course[edit]

The Bagmati originates where three headwater streams converge at Bāghdwār (Nepali: बाघ bāgh = tiger; द्वार dwār = gate)[2][3] above the southern edge of the Shivapuri Hills about 15 km northeast of Kathmandu. Here the Bagmati is wide and swift with a high load of suspended solids, giving it a grey appearance.[3] The river flows southwest about 10 km through terraced rice fields in the Kathmandu Valley.[3]

Resistant rock strata interrupt the flow in places, including at Pashupatinath Temple.[3] Beyond the temple, the river flows south until joined by the larger west-flowing Monahara River, then turns west itself. After entering Kathmandu's urban area more tributaries enter: relatively unpolluted[3] Dhobī Kholā[4][5] and sewage-laden Tukucha Khola.[3][6]

Then the river bends south and the Vishnumati enters from the right at Teku Dovan. The Vishnumati also rises in the Shivapuri Hills, some 6 km west of the Bagmati's source. It flows south past Nagarjun Hill and Forest Reserve, Swayambhu Stupa and Durbar Square in Kathmandu. As it passes the centre of Kathmandu, this tributary becomes heavily polluted and choked with trash.

Flowing generally south although with many curves, the Bagmatai reaches the edge of the Kathmandu Valley and enters Chobar Gorge near the Dakshinkali temple complex. The gorge cuts through the Mahabharat Range or Lesser Himalaya. The Bagmati also crosses the lower Sivalik Hills before reaching the Terai, then crosses into India at Dheng. It flows across Bihar districts Sitamarhi, Sheohar and finally Muzaffarpur where the Lakhandei joins above the Bagmati's confluence with the Koshi.

Geography[edit]

The Chobar gorge cuts through the Mahabharat Range, also called the Lesser Himalaya. This 2,000 to 3,000 meter range is the southern limit of the "middle hills" across Nepal, an important cultural boundary between distinctive Nepali and more Indian cultures and languages, as well as a major geological feature.

The basin of the Bagmati River, including the Kathmandu Valley, lies between the much larger Gandaki basin to the West and the Kosi Basin to the east. These adjacent basins extend north of the main Himalayan range and cross it in tremendous gorges, in fact the Arun tributary of the Kosi extends far into Tibet. The smaller Bagmati rises some distance south of the Himalaya. Without glacial sources, its flow is more dependent on rainfall, becoming very low during the hot season (April to early June), then peaking during the monsoon season (mid-June to mid-August). In these respects the Bagmati system resembles the (West) Rapti system lying between the Gandaki basin and the Karnali basin in the far west of Nepal.

Pollution[edit]

Pollution in Bagmati River

In Kathmandu, the Bagmati River is a very pretty river, at its origin, but it gains large amounts of untreated sewage, and large levels of pollution of the river exist due primarily to the region's large population. Many residents in Kathmandu empty personal garbage and waste into the river.[7] In particular the Hanumante khola, Dhobi khola, Tukucha khola and Bishnumati khola are the most polluted.[6] Attempts are being made to monitor the Bagmati River system and restore its cleanliness. These include "pollution loads modification, flow augmentation and placement of weirs at critical locations".[8] The Friends of the Bagmati is an organisation set up in November 2000. According to its website, its aim is "to reverse the degradation of the Bagmati river." In 2014, Bagmati River is claimed to be almost pure after a long effort of 14 years. Every Saturday, Gurkha Army, Nepal Police and General Public gather to clean the waste and sewage from the river.

Flood[edit]

Flood in a Bagmati river at Sundarijal

There is no effect of flood in most of the areas that it touches, but it has caused widespread sufferings to the people in Terai and northern districts of Bihar. In 1993, people have seen the worst destruction by this river. Poor water management, lack of proper weather forecasting and awareness were the main cause of mass destruction.[9]

Ancient shrines[edit]

The Temple of Pashupatinath, dedicated to Shiva, stands on an outcrop above the river north of Kathmandu.[3] It is considered to be one of the holy places of Hinduism.[3] Before the Pashupatinath the river flows Gokarneswor Temple at Gokarna, located at the north of the Kathmandu Valley. This is, too, a holy temple where the people of Kathmandu valley go for worshipping for the eternal peace of Father viz at "Kushi Aausi".

Public baths have been built supplied by a small hot spring. Nearby are two small structures that over the last many centuries were shrines, first to Buddha and then to Hinduism. There a many sculptures along the walls. One sculpture fragment shows the remnant of a Buddha triptych, a Buddha flanked by two bodhisattvas.[10]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Article: नेपाली वास्तु र वास्तुग्रन्थको संक्षिप्त परिचय, Author: Tarananda Mishra
  2. ^ The water flows out through a gargoyle shaped like a tiger's mouth. Fisher, James F. with Acharya, Tanka Prasad and Acharya, Rewanta Kumari (1997) Living martyrs: individuals and revolution in Nepal, Oxford University Press, New York, page 220, ISBN 0-19-564000-4
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Davis, John A. (1977) "Water Quality Standards for the Bagmati River," Journal: Water Pollution Control Federation 49(2): pp. 227-234, page 227
  4. ^ Khola means small river in Nepali. Kannel, Prakash Raj et al. (10 April 2007) "Application of automated QUAL2Kw for water quality modeling and management in the Bagmati River, Nepal," Ecological Modelling 202(3-4): pp. 503-517, page 505, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2006.12.033
  5. ^ "Map of Kathmandu" United States Department of State, 1985
  6. ^ a b Kannel, Prakash Raj et al. (10 April 2007) "Application of automated QUAL2Kw for water quality modeling and management in the Bagmati River, Nepal" Ecological Modelling 202(3-4): pp. 503-517, page 509, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2006.12.033
  7. ^ Davis, John A. (1977) "Water Quality Standards for the Bagmati River" Journal: Water Pollution Control Federation 49(2): pp. 227-234, page page 229
  8. ^ Kannel, Prakash Raj et al. (10 April 2007) "Application of automated QUAL2Kw for water quality modeling and management in the Bagmati River, Nepal" Ecological Modelling 202(3-4): pp. 503-517, page 513, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2006.12.033
  9. ^ Bhusal, Jagat K. (May 2002) "Lessons from the Extreme Floods in South Central Nepal in 1993" International Network of Basin Organizations
  10. ^ Thomas J. Pritzker (1995). "An Early Fragment from Central Nepal". asianart. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 

External links[edit]