Bishnumati River

6, Nov 2020 |

Flowing from the western part of the core of the capital city, Kathmandu, it is known to be the beloved river of Lord Vishnu.


Bishnumati is a 15.2 km (9.44 miles) long river that originates from Bishnu Dwar Tarebhir, north of Kathmandu. In literal translation, Bishnumati means the beloved river of Lord Vishnu. It flows through the western part of the core of the capital city, Kathmandu. The river holds much importance both from a cultural and commercial point of view. From the origin to Bhacha Kushi junction (about 12.7 km), the river is used for various purposes like irrigation, animal farming, etc. while the lower part of the river – from Bhacha Khushi to Teku Dovan, it is used for performing rituals by the local Newar community. It is a holy river for both Hindus and Buddhists as it has rich cultural values attached to it. Bishnumati is also one of the tributaries of the sacred river - Bagmati.

On the other hand, the Bishnumati river has become a consequence of rapid urbanization. With increasing dumps from industries and households, the value of the river is slowly deteriorating as the natural resources and cultural heritages near the banks of the river stand at a stake. Even the sand below the river is getting swept away.

“The gods live near forests, rivers, mountains and springs, and in the towns where there are trees and gardens."Brihatsamhita

The temples and shrines along the banks of the river refer to the river water as 'jal' in ancient Sanskrit language and believe it to be physically, mentally, and spiritually rejuvenating. Unless conversation and management of the holy river along with the greenery improvement by bioengineering system are not brought in proper action, the condition of the river is likely to worsen. In that context, there have been conservation and improvement programs like the Bishnumati River Conservation Programme proposed for the betterment of the river.


The holy river source Bishnudwar – Bishnu meaning 'the protector' and dwar meaning 'the opening' has its unique significance in both Hinduism and Buddhism. There is a small Bishnu Temple – Bishnupaduka. In Hinduism, Bishnu is revered as their protector. While in Buddhism, according to the third form of Buddha- Krakucchanda, it is believed that springs, also known as Kesavati, were combined to form the Bishnumati river. Therefore, there are many statues of Lord Buddha in the temple. At the junction of Bhacha Kushi, there is the Shovabhagwati temple worshipping the Hindu Goddess Bhagwati. The old Kankeshwori temple devoted to Goddess Durga is situated on the bank of the river. On the west bank of the river, there also is the Newa Buddhist Vidhyeshvari Vajra Yogini Temple.  

The river also has an important role in the introduction of the Nepal Sambat (a lunar calendar) as per legends. An astrologer of the then Bhaktapur king calculated the auspicious time and date when sand swept down by the river to the confluence of the Bhacha Khushi and Bishnumati river in Kathmandu would contain gold. When the king sent porters to dig up the gold, a merchant Sankhadhar Shakwa took the sand from them and more ordinary sand in return. As a result, Sankhadhar ended up with the gold sand that he later used to repay everybody's debts and started a new calendar.


The origin of the Bishnumati river, the Bishnu Dwar is a very astonishing place to hike to. The one-day hiking trail is an easy one, and as most of the path falls in the Shivapuri National Park itself, it is not so difficult to locate the way too. The wooden bridge, chilly breeze, praiseworthy natural view all add up to the beautiful waterfall destination.


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