A journey of Kali-Saryu-Karnali-Ghaghara and their confluence with Ganga

After completing my journey Ganga and Yamuna rivers in the Himalayas, I undertook a journey to see the beauty of river Kali which is known as Mahakali in Nepal and later known as Sarda after Purnagiri hills near Tanakpur in Uttarakhand. We started from Tawaghat about 30 kilometres from Dharchula town in Pithoragarh district. While we wanted to really go up to Adi Kailash but due to heavy rains and landslide it was not possible. So, at Tawaghat, Darma river or Dhauli Ganga ( not the same that merge with Alaknanda at Vishnu Prayag) flows into Kali river. Tawaghat was an important market on the way to Kaliash Mansarovar but 2013 floods destroyed the entire market and there is not a small trace of it.

At Dharchula, you can see a city divided by two national identities India and Nepal but the culture and civilisation unite them. It look how culture is a powerful uniting factor. Kali or Mahakali is actually the border line between India and Nepal in the Uttarakhand region. This film is purely on the conditions of river and hence does not really focus on the border issue etc.

30 kilometers down Kali meets another river coming from Milam glacier known as Gori Ganga. Some call it Gauri Ganga at Joljibi which is a historic town for business between India and Nepal. From Joljibi we also focussed on Askot, a beautiful historical town where the Pal dynasty of the Uttarakhand flourished once. A beautiful temple of Mallikarjun Mahadev is at the top which can provide you a beautiful peaks of Panchachuli Himalayan range as well as the Kali valley.

From Joljibi the river then move towards Jhulaghat another important town between India and Nepal. Just ahead of Jhulaghat, about five kilometres, river Chamelia coming from Nepal flows into Kali . From Jhulaghat the river moves to Pancheshwar where Saryu river flows into Kali and after some kilometres journey the same river is known as Sarda from Purnagiri hills just a few kilometres before Tanakpur Barrage.

At the border town of Banbasa ( bordering with Mahendranagar district of Nepal) the river passes through some forest zones and reach Pilibhit and Lakimpurkhiri but from Khatima, a parallel Sarda Canal passes through beautiful Surai forests followed by Pilibhit Tiger Range. At the border of Sitapur-Lakhimpurkhiri-Bahraich in Uttar Pradesh, Sarda river finally ends its journey by merging into river Ghaghara.

Ghaghra river’s origin too is from the Mansarovar range. It take a down turn to beautiful region of Nepal and is known as Karnali pass through mesmerising landscape near Pitmari and Cheesapani in Nepal and split into two rivers before entering to India, namely Girua and Kudiyala. Both these rivers pass through dense forests of Kataraniyaghat Tiger range in Bahraich and meet at Girijapuri where a barrage is made over them and the river afterward is called ‘Ghaghra’. From there the river pass through Bahraich, Sitapur, Gonda and is known as Saryu at Ayodhya and it move towards Basi, Azamagarh and finally enter Bihar via Siwan and finally merge into river Ganges at place near Chirand and Revelanj in district Saran. Son river coming from Amarkantak and Kaimur hills too meet Ganges at this point known as Teen dhara about 10 kilometre river journey from Chirand.

The fact is heavy sand mining on our rivers have actually destroyed them. You can not stand for a minute as the air has thick layers of sand and dust. Every year ghaghra and Sarda causes huge devastation, change their embankment and millions of hectare of fertile land is turning barren. While in Uttarakhand Dams, construction etc has made a challenge and we may not see many of these locations which we have shown in our film. I deliberately did not mention anything of that because we want people to understand the crisis totally men made. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the disaster are being caused by mining as well as rituals when people take a dip in the rivers and flows their sins in it without bothering as what will happen tomorrow.

We need a people’s conscious decision not to pollute our rivers. At the policy level the government need to think as what need to be done. There is a limit for commercial usage. Our rivers are our identity and we need to see whether we want to protect our rivers, our heritage and cultural identities or just put them for commercial usage. How long will this commercial exploitation be allowed? What is the limit to exploitation? Of course, these are not part of the film as the film is just a narration of a journey and the conclusion can be drawn by the people themselves. Hope you will have time to watch them.

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Vidya Bhushan Rawat

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com twitter @freetohumanity Email: [email protected]

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