Bagmati River

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This article is about the river. For the region, see Bagmati Zone.
Bagmati (बागमती खुसी, बागमती नदी)
Bagmati River at Pashupatinath Temple
Country Nepal
State Bagmati Zone
 - left Lalbakaiya, Bishnumati
 - right Manohara, Marin khola, Adhwara, Kamala
Cities Kathmandu, Patan
Source Bagdwar
 - location Shivapuri, Kathmandu, Nepal
 - elevation 2,690 m (8,825 ft)
 - coordinates 27°46′16″N 85°25′38″E / 27.77111°N 85.42722°E / 27.77111; 85.42722
Mouth Confluence with Koshi River
 - location Khagaria, India
 - coordinates 26°07′19″N 85°42′29″E / 26.12194°N 85.70806°E / 26.12194; 85.70806Coordinates: 26°07′19″N 85°42′29″E / 26.12194°N 85.70806°E / 26.12194; 85.70806

The Bagmati River[n 1] runs through the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal and separates Kathmandu from Patan. It is considered holy by both 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, so that the reincarnation cycle may be ended. 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.


A view of Bagmati River at Sundarijal
Bagmati River, 1950s

The Bagmati River is considered the source of Nepalese civilization and urbanization.[2] The river has been mentioned as Vaggumuda (वग्गुमुदा) in Vinaya Pitaka and Nandabagga.[2] It has also been mentioned as Bahumati (बाहुमति) in Battha Suttanta of Majjhima Nikaya.[2] An inscription dated AD 477 describes the river as Bagvati parpradeshe (वाग्वति पारप्रदेशे) and subsequently in Gopalraj Vanshavali.[2]

View of Bagmati River from Sundarijal, Kathmandu, Nepal


The Chobar gorge cuts through the Mahabharat Range, also called the Lesser Himalaya. This 2,000-to-3,000-meter (6,600 to 9,800 ft) 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.

The Bagmati originates where three headwater streams converge at Bāghdwār (Nepali: बाघद्वार, "Tiger Gate"), where the water flows out through a gargoyle shaped like a tiger's mouth.[3][4] This lies above the southern edge of the Shivapuri Hills about 15 kilometers (9 mi) northeast of Kathmandu. Here the Bagmati is wide and swift with a high load of suspended solids, giving it a grey appearance.[4] The river flows southwest about 10 km (6 mi) through terraced rice fields in the Kathmandu Valley.[4]

Resistant rock strata interrupt the flow in places, including at Pashupatinath Temple.[4] 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[4] Dhobī Kholā[5][6] and sewage-laden Tukucha Khola.[4][7][n 2]

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 kilometers (4 mi) 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 Bagmati 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, Muzaffarpur and Khagaria. As it flows to Bihar the river is full with silt load and is notorious for changing it's course and braids into many branches one of such branch joins Burhi Gandak river near Begusarai and the combined river drains into Ganga east of Begusarai while the main channel runs east to drain into Koshi at Badlaghat.However in past the river had a different course and used to drain directly into the Ganges.In Swasthani Bratakatha of Skanda Purana, Bagmati's present northern tributary was regarded as main channel called Sali river which was a tributary of the Gandak and it's obvious since Manohara river,the present day Sali river is larger than Bagmati at their confluence.


Pollution in Bagmati River

The Bagmati River contains 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.[8] In particular the Hanumante khola, Dhobi khola, Tukucha khola and Bishnumati khola are the most polluted.[7] 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".[9]

In May 18, 2013, under the initiative of former chief secretary Leela mani Poudyal, The Bagmati Mega Clean Up Campaign was started. The organizations like, Jivan Bigyan, Gayetri Pariyar, etc has active participation since its beginning and till now it is recorded to have around 950 plus organizations. Every Saturday, Gurkha Army, Nepal Police and General Public gather to clean the waste and sewage from the river.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.


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.[10]


The Temple of Pashupatinath, dedicated to Shiva, stands on an outcrop above the river north of Kathmandu.[4] It is considered to be one of the holy places of Hinduism.[4] 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.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Formerly also written Baghmati.[1]
  2. ^ Kholā means "small river" or "creek" in Nepali.



  1. ^ EB (1878).
  2. ^ a b c d Article: नेपाली वास्तु र वास्तुग्रन्थको संक्षिप्त परिचय, Author: Tarananda Mishra
  3. ^ Fisher, James F.; et al. (1997), Living Martyrs: Individuals and Revolution in Nepal, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 220, ISBN 0-19-564000-4 .
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Davis (1977), p. 227.
  5. ^ Kannel & al. (2007), p. 505.
  6. ^ "Map of Kathmandu" United States Department of State, 1985
  7. ^ a b Kannel & al. (2007), p. 509.
  8. ^ Davis (1977), p. 229.
  9. ^ Kannel & al. (2007), p. 513.
  10. ^ Bhusal, Jagat K. (May 2002) "Lessons from the Extreme Floods in South Central Nepal in 1993" International Network of Basin Organizations
  11. ^ Thomas J. Pritzker (1995). "An Early Fragment from Central Nepal". asianart. Retrieved 2008-02-10. 


  • "Baghmati", Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. III, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1878, p. 235 .
  • Davis, John A. (1977), "Water Quality Standards for the Bagmati River", Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation, Vol. 49, No. 2, pp. 227–234 .
  • 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, Vol. 202, No. 3-4, pp. 503–517, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2006.12.033 .

External links[edit]