Brahmaputra: Wikis


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Map of the Brahmaputra
A view across the Brahmaputra near Sukleswar Ghat, Guwahati, Assam, India.

The Brahmaputra,[1] also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and one of the major rivers of Asia.

From its origin in southwestern Tibet as the Yarlung Zangbo River, it flows across southern Tibet to break through the Himalayas in great gorges and into Arunachal Pradesh where it is known as Dihang.[2] It flows southwest through the Assam Valley as Brahmaputra and south through Bangladesh as the Jamuna (not to be mistaken with Yamuna of India). There it merges with the Ganges to form a vast delta. About 1,800 miles (2,900 km) long, the river is an important source for irrigation and transportation. Its upper course was long unknown, and its identity with the Yarlung Tsangpo was only established by exploration in 1884-86. This river is often called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river. The average depth of river is 124 feet (38 m) and maximum depth is 380 feet (120 m). In Bangladesh the river merges with the Ganges and splits into two: the Padma and Meghna River. When it merges with the Ganges it forms the world's largest delta, the Sunderbans. The Sunderbans is known for tigers, crocodiles and mangroves. While most Indian and Bangladeshi rivers bear female names, this river has a rare male name, as it means "son of Brahma" in Sanskrit (putra means "son").

The Brahmaputra is navigable for most of its length. The lower part reaches are sacred to Hindus. The river is prone to catastrophic flooding in spring when the Himalayan snows melt. It is also one of the few rivers in the world that exhibit a tidal bore.


River course



The Yarlung Tsangpo originates in the Jima Yangzong glacier[3] near Mount Kailash in the northern Himalayas. It then flows east for about 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi), at an average height of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft), and is thus the highest of the major rivers in the world. At its easternmost point, it bends around Mt. Namcha Barwa, and forms the Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon which is considered the deepest in the world.[4]

Assam and adjoining region

As the river enters Arunachal Pradesh, it is called Siang and makes a very rapid descent from its original height in Tibet, and finally appears in the plains, where it is called Dihang. It flows for about 35 kilometres (22 mi) and is joined by two other major rivers: Dibang and Lohit. From this point of confluence, the river becomes very wide and is called Brahmaputra. It is joined in Sonitpur District by the Jia Bhoreli (named the Kameng River where it flows from Arunachal Pradesh) and flows through the entire state of Assam. In Assam the river is sometimes as wide as 10 kilometres (6.2 mi). Between Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur districts the river divides into two channels---the northern Kherkutia channel and the southern Brahmaputra channel. The two channels join again about 100 kilometres (62 mi) downstream forming the Majuli island. At Guwahati near the ancient pilgrimage center of Hajo, the Brahmaputra cuts through the rocks of the Shillong Plateau, and is at its narrowest at 1 kilometre (1,100 yd) bank-to-bank. Because the Brahmaputra is the narrowest at this point the Battle of Saraighat was fought here. The first rail-cum-road bridge across the Brahmaputra was opened to traffic in April 1962 at Saraighat.

When compared to the other major rivers in India, the Brahmaputra is less polluted but it has its own problems: petroleum refining units contribute most of the industrial pollution load into the basin along with other medium and small industries. The main problem facing the river basin is that of constant flooding. Floods have been occurring more often in recent years with deforestation, and other human activities being the major causes. 'Bold text'mythological stories of brahmaputra

There are many mythological stories on Brahmaputra. But the most popular and sacred one is about the river's birth in 'Kalika Purana'. It describes how Parashurama, one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, got rid of his sin of murdering his own mother with an axe (or Parish) by taking bath in this sacred river. On strict order from his father Yamasaki (who had suspected his wife Renuka of adultery), Parashuram had to murder his own mother by severing her head with an axe. As a result of this nefarious act, the axe got stuck to his hand and he was unable to take it off his hand. On advice from sages, he started on a pilgrimage and ultimately reached the place, which is presently known as Parashuram Kunda (about 25 km north of Tzu in Lomita district in Raunchily Pradesh). The story says that the mighty river was then confined to a Kind (or Kunda) or a small lake surrounded by hills. Parashuram cut down the hills on one side to release the sacred water for the benefit of the common people. By this act, Parashuram’s axe came out of his hand to his great relief and he knew that he had been exonerated from his sin.


A Map showing major rivers in Bangladesh including both branches of Brahmaputra - Jamuna and lower Brahmaputra.
Brahmaputra river seen from a Spot satellite

In Bangladesh, the Brahmaputra splits into two branches: the much larger branch continues due south as the Jamuna (Jomuna) and flows into the Lower Ganges, locally called Padma (Pôdda), while the older branch curves southeast as the lower Brahmaputra (Bromhoputro) and flows into the Meghna. Both paths eventually reconverge near Chandpur in Bangladesh and flow out into the Bay of Bengal. However, Before 250 years ago it was the actual Brahmaputra river in Bangladesh passes through the Jamalpur and Mymensingh district,a serious earthquake led its in present flow. Fed by the waters of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, this river system forms the Ganges Delta, the largest river delta in the world.


During the monsoon season (June-October), floods are a common occurrence. Deforestation in the Brahmaputra watershed has resulted in increased siltation levels, flash floods, and soil erosion in critical downstream habitat, such as the Kaziranga National Park in middle Assam. Occasionally, massive flooding causes huge losses to crops, life and property. Periodic flooding is a natural phenomenon which is ecologically important because it helps maintain the lowland grasslands and associated wildlife. Periodic floods also deposit fresh alluvium replenishing the fertile soil of the Brahmaputra River Valley. Thus flooding, agriculture, and agricultural practices are closely connected.[5][6][7]

Transportation and navigation

Until Indian independence in 1947, the Brahmaputra was used as a major waterway. In the 1990s, the stretch between Sadiya and Dhubri in India was declared as National Waterway No.2., and it provides facilities for goods transportation. Recent years have seen a modest spurt in the growth of river cruises with the introduction of the cruise ship, "Charaidew," by Assam Bengal Navigation.

See also


  1. ^ The Brahmaputra as it is called in various languages: Assamese: ব্ৰহ্মপুত্ৰ Brôhmôputrô; Bengali: ব্রহ্মপুত্র নদ Bromhoputro; Hindi: ब्रम्हपुत्र, IAST: Bramhaputra; Tibetan: ཡར་ཀླུངས་གཙང་པོ་Wylie: yar klung gtsang po Yarlung Tsangpo
  2. ^ "Yarlung Tsangpo River in China". Atmospheric Data Science Center. Retrieved 2007-06-27.  
  3. ^ The New Largest Canyon in the World from
  4. ^ Canyonlands of Tibet and Central Asia, from
  5. ^ Das, D.C. 2000. Agricultural Landuse and Productivity Pattern in Lower Brahmaputra valley (1970-71 and 1994-95). Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Geography, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong.
  6. ^ Mipun, B.S. 1989. Impact of Migrants and Agricultural Changes in the Lower Brahmaputra Valley : A Case Study of Darrang District. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Geography, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong.
  7. ^ Shrivastava, R.J. and Heinen, J.T. 2005. Migration and Home Gardens in the Brahmaputra Valley, Assam, India. Journal of Ecological Anthropology 9: 20-34.


Further reading

Coordinates: 26°12′03″N 91°44′49″E / 26.20073°N 91.74683°E / 26.20073; 91.74683

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BRAHMAPUTRA, a great river of India, with a total length of 1800 m. Its main source is in a great glacier-mass of the northernmost chain of the Himalayas, called Kubigangri, about 82° N., and receives various tributaries including one formerly regarded as the true source from the pass of Mariam La (15,500 ft.), which separates its basin from the eastern affluents of the Mansarowar lakes, at least ioo m. south-east of those of the Indus. It flows in a south-easterly direction for 170 m., and then adheres closely to a nearly easterly course for 500 m. more, being at the end of that distance in 29°10' N. lat. It then bends north-east for 150 m. before finally shaping itself southwards towards the plains of Assam. Roughly speaking, the river may be said so far to run parallel to the main chain of the Himalaya at a distance of Too m. therefrom. Its early beginnings take their rise amidst a mighty mass of glaciers which cover the northern slopes of the watershed, separating them from the sources of the Gogra on the south; and there is evidence that two of its great southern tributaries, the Shorta Tsanpo (which joins about 150 m. from its source), and the Nyang Chu (the river of Shigatse and Gyantse), are both also of glacial origin. From the north it receives five great tributaries, namely, the Chu Nago, the Chachu Tsanpo and the Charta Tsanpo (all within the first 200 m. of its course), and the Raka Tsanpo and Kyi-chu (or river of Lhasa) below. The Chachu and the Charta are large clear streams, evidently draining from the great central lake district. Both of them measure more than ioo yds. in width at the point of junction, and they are clearly non-glacial. The Raka Tsanpo is a lateral affluent, flowing for 200 m. parallel to the main river course and some 20 to 30 m. north of it, draining the southern slopes of a high snowy range. It is an important feature as affording foothold for the Janglam (the great high road of southern Tibet connecting Ladakh with China), which is denied by the actual valley of the Brahmaputra. The great river itself is known in Tibet by many names, being generally called the Nari Chu, Maghang Tsanpo or Yaro Tsanpo, above Lhasa; the word " tsanpo " (tsang-po) meaning (according to Waddell) the " pure one," and applying to all great rivers. Fifty miles from its source the river and the Janglam route touch each other, and from that point past Tadum (the first important place on its banks) for another 130 m., the road follows more or less closely the left bank of the river. Then it diverges northwards into the lateral valley of the Raka, until the Raka joins the Brahmaputra below Janglache. The upper reaches are nowhere fordable between Tadum and Lhasa, but there is a ferry at Likche (opposite Tadum on the southern bank), where wooden boats covered with hide effect the necessary connexion between the two banks and ensure the passage of the Nepal trade. From Janglache (13,800 ft.) to Shigatse the river is navigable, the channel being open and wide and the course straight. This is probably the most elevated system of navigation in the world. From Shigatse, which stands near the mouth of the Nyang Chu, to the Kyi-chu, or Lhasa river, there is no direct route, the river being unnavigable below Shigatse. The Janglam takes a circuitous course southwards to Gyantse and the Yamdok Cho before dropping again over the Khambala pass to the ferry at Khamba barje near Chushul. Thence the valley of the Kyi-chu (itself navigable for small boats for about 30 m.) leads to Lhasa northwards. At Chushul there is an iron chain-and-rope suspension bridge over the deepest part of the river, but it does not completely span the river, and it is too insecure for use. The remains of a similar bridge exist at Janglache; but there are no wooden or twig suspension bridges over the Tsanpo. At Tadum the river is about one half as wide again as the Ganges at Hardwar in December, i.e. about 250 to 300 yds. At Shigatse it flows in a wide extended bed with many channels, but contracts again at Chushul, where it is no wider than it is at Janglache, i.e. from 600 to 700 yds. At Chushul (below the Kyi-chu) the discharge of the river is computed to be about 35,000 cub. ft. per second, or seven times that of the Ganges at Hardwar.

For about 250 m. below Kyi-chu to a point about 20 m. below the great southerly bend (in 94° E. long.) the course of the Brahmaputra has been traced by native surveyors. Then it is lost amidst the jungle-covered hills of the wild Mishmi and Abor tribes to the east of Bhutan for another ioo m., until it is again found as the Dihong emerging into the plains of Assam. About the intervening reaches of the river very little is known except that it drops through 7000 ft. of altitude, and that in one place, at least, there exist some very remarkable falls. These are placed in 29° 40' N. lat., between Kongbu and PemaKoi. Here the river runs in a narrow precipitous defile along which no path is practicable. The falls can only be approached from below, where a monastery has been erected, the resort of countless pilgrims. Their height is estimated at 70 ft., and by Tibetan report the hills around are enveloped in perpetual mist, and the Sangdong (the " lion's face "), over which the waters rush, is demon-haunted and full of mystic import. Up to comparatively recent years it was matter for controversy whether the Tsanpo formed the upper reaches of the Dihong or of the Irrawaddy. From the north-eastern extremity of Assam where, near Sadya, the Lohit, the Dibong and the Dihong unite to form the wide placid Brahmaputra of the plains - one of the grandest rivers of the world - its south-westerly course to the Bay of Bengal is sufficiently well known. It still retains the proud distinction of being unbridged, and still the River Flotilla Company appoints its steamers at regular intervals to visit all the chief ports on its banks as far as Dibrugarh. Here, however, a new feature has been introduced in the local railway, which extends for some 80 m. to Sadya, with a branch to the Buri Dihing river at the foot of the Patkoi range. The Patkoi border the plains of Upper Assam to the south-east, and across these hills lies the most reasonable probability of railway extension to Burma.

The following are the " lowest level " discharges of the principal affluents of the Brahmaputra in Upper Assam, estimated in cubic feet per second: Lohit river, 9 m. above Sadya. .. 38,800 Dibong, i m. above junction with Dihong. 27,200 Dihong„ „ Dibong. 55,400 Subansiri. .. ... 16,900 The basins of the Dibong and Subansiri are as yet very imperfectly known. That of the Lohit has been fairly well explored. Near Goalpara the discharge of the river in January 1828 was computed to be 140,000 cub. ft., or nearly double that of the Ganges. The length of the river is 700 m. to the Dihong junction, and about 1000 in Tibet and eastern Bhutan, above the Dihong. The Brahmaputra, therefore, exceeds the Ganges in length by about 400 m. The bed of the great river maintains a fairly constant position between its extreme banks, but the channels within that bed are so constantly shifting as to require close supervision on the part of the navigation authorities; so much detritus is carried down as to form a perpetually changing series of obstructions to steamer traffic.

An enormous development of agricultural resources has taken place within the Brahmaputra basin of late years, chiefly in the direction of tea cultivation, as well as in the production of jute and silk. Gold is found in the sands of all its upper tributaries, and coal and petroleum are amongst the chief mineral products which have been brought into economic prominence. During the rains the Brahmaputra floods hundreds of square miles of country, reaching a height of 30 to 40 ft. above its usual level. This supersedes artificial irrigation, and the plains so watered yield abundantly in rice, jute and mustard.

See Reports of the native explorers of the Indian Survey, edited by Montgomery and Harman; Imperial Gazetteer of India (1908); Sir T. H. Holdich, India (” Regions of the World " series, 1903); Ryder, Geographical Journat, 1905; Rawlings, The Great Plateau (1906). (T. H. H.*)

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