Bagmati River

1, Nov 2020 |

The holy river of Nepal


Separating Kathmandu from Patan, the holy river Bagmati is home to many Hindu temples along its banks. Running through the mid of the Kathmandu valley, sadly, the river ranks among the most polluted river in the country. Once known for its natural beauty, river Bagmati has now turned into a sewage canal due to massive pollution received from the dumping of untreated waste management. Despite the condition of the river, it holds great importance among the Nepalese; therefore, the efforts to make the water cleaner and less polluted are taking rapidness.

Being the holy river of Nepal, the Hindu ritual of cremation is carried out on the banks of the Bagmati. Another prominent aspect of this river is that Kirants were 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 the cremation believing that the reincarnation cycle ends. There is a belief that the river purifies the people spiritually.

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


  • With the much bigger Gandaki Basin to the West and Koshi Basin to the east, the Bagmati river including Kathmandu valley resides in-between.
  • It crosses the lower Sivalik Hills before reaching the Terai, then crosses into India at Bairgania.
  • 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."
  • The riverbank has many religious shrines attached to it like Gokarneshwor, Guheswori, Pashupatinath temple, Koteswor Mahadev, Shankhamul, Kalmochan temple, Tripureshwor temple, Jal Ninayak, and many others.
  • The catchment of 371 miles long Bagmati river lies around the Shivapuri hills.
  • The high pollution of the Bagmati River is unable to support any flora and fauna population. The Bagmati Cleaning Campaign, initiated in the year 2013 with massive participation from the public as well as various organizations is a hope to revive the purity and natural beauty of the holy river.
  • The river basin covers eight districts - Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Makawanpur, Kavre, Sindhuli, Rautahat, and Sarlahi and major tourist destinations like Bhaktapur, Daman, Godavari, Kathmandu, Khokana, Lubhu, Nagarkot, Sankhu, Thankot, and Sundarijal.

Complied by Pawana Shrestha, a content writer at Nepaltraveller.


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