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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

Simple English

The Brahmaputra is one of the main rivers in Asia. It flows through Tibet, India and Bangladesh. It is 2,900 km (1,802 mi) long.

It joins with the Ganges river in where it makes the Sunderban delta. This delta is the biggest delta in the world.

Sunset captured from near Sukleswar ghat in Guwahati. The hills on both sides of the Saraighat Bridge across the river Brahmaputra.


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