Tag Archives: Saraswati

Ghaggar River: The Lost Glory


The rivers in India are of two types. The ones like Ganga and Indus are perennial in nature because they originate in Himalayas and are fed by melting ice. Others are intermittent in nature. Their catchment area is foothills of Himalayas and these flow in full glory only during monsoons in the catchment area in hills.

River Description

One such river is Ghaggar. It originates in the village of Dagshai in the Shivalik Hills of Himachal Pradesh at an elevation of 1,927 metres (6,322 ft) above mean sea level and flows through Punjab and Haryana states into Rajasthan just southwest of Sirsa, Haryana and by the side of Talwara Lake in Rajasthan. Dammed at Ottu barrage near Sirsa, Ghaggar feeds two irrigation canals that extend into Rajasthan.

The wild grasses growing in the bed of river

This river is located just a kilometre from our home and I visit it almost daily for morning walks and nature photography. Present conditions are described below:

Present Scenario

Amidst a quite big bed, water flows in a thin winding strip. Wild shrubs like Kans grass (Saccharum spontaneum), acacia trees grow in its bed. Many people use it as a garbage dump and also for open defecation. The river bed is ruthlessly mined for sand and pebbles by the sand mafia. Of course, during the monsoon season the river is in spate. But rest of the times one can walk through it with ease from one bank to another.

Muddy water flowing in the river during rains

The bed is home to many species of birds like Ring Plovers, Pratincole, Steppe Eagles, Wagtails, martins, lapwings and wiretails. Snakes also roam during summer mornings. During winter some migratory birds also come here.

A little ring plover in the river

Past Glory!!!

Standing on its bank, I think about its past glory. Satellite imagery and other archaeological studies indicate that once upon a time it was a mighty river. So much so that Yamuna and Satluj were its tributaries on East and West sides respectively. It flowed in full force into Arabian Sea. Due to plenty of water and fertile land around, it was a perfect place for the humans to settle in the ancient times. It is now becoming clear from the evidence gathered from excavations that there was a big population living along its banks during Indus Valley Civilization. It was a part of Ghaggar Hakra River system.

Rig Veda the Aryan holy Text, mentions about the holy Saraswati river so many times, was a part of Sapt (Seven) Sindhu (River) which eludes to Ghaggar and its six tributaries including Saraswati. Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati are the trinity of rivers held in great reverence by Hindus.

Then the Times changed on geological scale. Tectonic activity changed the river associations. Yamuna realigned with Ganges and wayward Satluj with Indus stripping Ghaggar of much of its volume of water leading to the disintegration of the towns on its banks.

Conditions nowadays are becoming even more grim.


Searching the elusive Saraswati !!!!!

We have been taught in our school about Indus Valley civilization and how it was replaced by arrival of the people from west which have been called Aryans. That the Indus Valley civilisation was spread between Indus  and Yamuna rivers. Exacavation at many locations established many huge settlements like Harrapa in Pakistan side punjab and Mohenjodaro in Sind district. But it is not the end. So many sites have been established belonging to this civilisation throughout North India beginning from plains of Punjab and Haryana to as far south as Dholavira in the Kutcch coastal area of gujarat.

This civilisation thus was spread into the fertile flat plains served by many rivers like five rivers of Punjab, Indus River, Yamuna river and so many of their tributaries. These are perennial rivers with the origin in the glaciers of Himalayas. They bring about huge supply of water as well as rich alluvial soil. Thus the area is suitable for agriculture.

The civilisation is said to highly advanced as is evident from the town and unban planning, sanitary system, baths, water harvesting and trade with many countries in the west. But even then it is said that these people did not develop any language or whatever symbols are there still have not being interpreted.

Then it is also said that one fine day this civilisation disappeared. There are many theories like inundations due to changing course of the rivers which cannot happen short time. Another very strong reason is the invasion of these areas by fair colored people from the west. These are said to be pastoral people rearing cattles and riding chariots driven by horses. These were the people who are called Aryans and since they vanquished the native dark colored people who were pushed south wards or those remained were obliged to be inferior to their conquerors.

It is also said that the Vedas are their creation. How the pastoral people can create such profound literature? In these Vedas, another river figures prominently or rather dominates. It is river Saraswati. This river is said to have been responsible for the developments of the civilisation along its banks. It is said to be flowing between Satluj and Yamuna and going all the way down towards Sind after merging with Ghaggar river and then Hakra river combinedly called Ghaggar Hakra river.

Ghaggar which is sometimes synonym with Saraswati still exists but even the Vedas mention that at the Saraswati has dried down at many places is elusive today. It is definitely not the elusive third river of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati trio which does not fit the route mentioned in the Vedas. Since so many of remains of Indus Valley civilisation have been discovered in Haryana like Rakhigarhi-which is said to be spread over the largest area than earlier sites like Harappa fall near the path said to had been followed by the Saraswati . This means that Vedas existed at the time of Indus Valley civilisation people and invasion theory is not plausible. Many scholars like Michel Danino agree with this theory in his book “The lost river: on the trail of the Saraswati“. The following map is proposed by him.

But many like Doctor R.C.Thakran, professor of history at university of Delhi  who has done research on the geological and soil aspects of areas along the Ghaggar river contest the existence of river as being responsible for giving rise to such a big civilisation. It is too small a river with its catchment area in the lower Shivaliks. Thus at the most , this must have been a season river. The variation in the moisture content of the soil in the dry beds decline sharply with the distance travelled indicating that flow was not large enough so as to saturate the subsoil equally all along. Sediments are identical to those of Shivalik hills in composition indicating the source in the Shivaliks. Anyway the present reality is that river is not visible anywhere.

But government in Haryana is bent on its revival. Based on the scriptures, it will excavate the river said path to revive the past Aryan glory with which we North Indian identify ourselves. There are plans to pump the water from underground through tube wells into the excavated river.

According to the report the work is already begun. As reported in the times of India newspaper reproduced below.

As part of its attempt to revive Saraswati river, Haryana government on Tuesday initiated excavation work at Rolaheri village in Yamunanagar district.

Inaugurating the work, Haryana assembly Speaker Kanwar Pal said the project would once again take the culture and heritage of India to the golden period. Officials say that south Indian scholar Dr Ratnakar has shown interest in initiating the work on the project.”

Let us hope to be positive. But the conclusions based on the facts not the sentiments.


Devi Saraswati

Course of Sarasvati river through Thar desert

Course of Sarasvati river through Thar desert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She is the wife of Brahma and considered as the patron of arts, music and letters. As often in Indian mythology, She is also associated with the river of the same name which once flowed through modern Haryana of North India and is mentioned repeatedly in Vedic literature. The river is now non-existent of thought of as flowing invisibly. It meets the two other great rivers Ganges and Yamuna at Prayag or Allahabad.

According to PTI news of May 9, 2006, ONGC the largest of Petroleum Exploration and Production Company of India decided to launch the digging of wells for producing water from the underground source of river Saraswati in Rajasthan and help solve the water scarcity problems and also to discover the route of the river.

Under the project, ONGC in collaboration with government agency Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) would dig many wells in Jaisalmar, Barmer and Bikaner districts that will aid its search for water of the river, believed to have originated in the Thar desert and disappeared into present day Pakistan.

The Goddess is depicted as a beautiful fair young woman, often with a Veena or Indian lute and book in her hand and attended by a Swan.Traditionally considered as the inventor of Sanskrit language. She is much revered by students, musicians and writers.


Writing does not come easily. Thoughts jostle with one another in the brain. Confusion abounds in the head. Everything is hazy. Threads of thoughts seemed to be entangled on one another. Incoherent stream of them is what comes out. Inside there is overcrowding of thoughts, because the thinking process is unending, but it seems that they don’t want t0 leave the brain. They seem to be pushing one another out. Occasionally, some thoughts come popping out and spill on to the paper. The ink hardly dries from pen because the words do not flow like torrents but just as a trickle. How I wish that floodgates of words open and words pour onto the paper. I pray to Goddess Saraswati to impart me this boon at least. Presently, both the Goddesses: Saraswati and Laxmi, have showered blessings which are just average. I don’t say that I have not been lucky.

I wanted to do doctorate in Chemistry but the time seems to have run out. My resolutions have been very weak. Had they been stronger, I would have satisfy my attitude for writing and knowing the mysteries of nature through science at least. Indians as such are steeped in the metaphysics with umpteen number of Gods and Goddesses in the mythology of Hinduism. It seems that there are enough numbers of Gods for supervision of the activities on this earth as well as the higher world and also nether world.