Bhagirathi River

The Bhāgīrathī (Pron: /ˌbʌgɪˈɹɑːθɪ/) is a turbulent Himalayan river in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and one of the two headstreams of the Ganges, the major river of Northern India and the holy river of Hinduism. In the Hindu faith, mythology, and culture, the Bhagirathi is considered the source stream of the Ganges. However, in hydrology, the other headstream, Alaknanda, is considered the source stream on account of its great length and discharge. The Bhagirathi and Alaknanda join at Devprayag in Garhwal and are thereafter known as the Ganges.

Bhāgīrathī River
Bhagirathi River at Gangotri.JPG
Sacred bathing ghats on Bhagirathi River at Gangotri
Bhagirathi river map.JPG
Map showing the Himalayan headwaters of the Bhagirathi river. The numbers in parentheses refer to the altitude in meters.
Etymology"Bhagirathi" (Sanskrit, literally, "caused by Bhagiratha")
Native nameभागीरथी Error {{native name checker}}: parameter value is malformed (help)
RegionGarhwal division
DistrictUttar Kashi District, Tehri District
Physical characteristics
SourceGaumukh (gou, cow + mukh, face), about 18 km (11.2 mi) from the town of Gangotri
 • coordinates30°55′32″N 79°04′53″E / 30.925449°N 79.081480°E / 30.925449; 79.081480
 • elevation3,892 m (12,769 ft)
Source confluenceAlaknanda River
 • location
Devprayag, Uttarakhand, India
 • coordinates
30°08′47″N 78°35′54″E / 30.146315°N 78.598251°E / 30.146315; 78.598251
 • elevation
475 m (1,558 ft)
Length205 km (127 mi)
Basin size6,921 km2 (2,672 sq mi)
 • average257.78 m3/s (9,103 cu ft/s)
 • maximum3,800 m3/s (130,000 cu ft/s)


The word "Bhagirathi" (Sanskrit, literally, "caused by Bhagiratha") refers to a mythological Sagar Dynasty prince who, to gain the release of his 10,000 great-uncles from the curse of saint Kapila, brought the goddess Ganga in the form of the river Ganges, from the heavens to the earth. Hence, Ganges is considered as the daughter of Bhagiratha and Ganges is also called Baghirathi.[2] Bhagiratha was the king of Kosala, a kingdom in ancient India. He was a descendant of the great King Sagara of the Suryavanshi, or Surya Dynasty. He was one of the forefathers of Lord Rama, of the Ramayana, the epic in which Bhagiratha's tale is primarily recounted. The story of Bhagiratha explained in Balakhanda of Ramayana. Lord Shiva brought Ganga river to Bindu Sarovar on request of Bhagiratha.[3][4][5]


The headwaters of the Bhagirathi are formed at Gaumukh (elevation 3,892 metres (12,769 ft)), at the foot of the Gangotri glacier and Khatling glaciers in the Garhwal Himalaya. It is then joined by its tributaries; these are, in order from the source:

The Bhilangna itself rises at the foot of the Khatling Glacier (elevation 3,717 m (12,195 ft)) approximately 50 km (31 mi) south of Gaumukh.

The river flows from its source for 205 km (127 mi) before meeting the Alaknanda River at an elevation of 475 m (1,558 ft) in the town of Devprayag. Downstream of this confluence, considered holy by Hindus, the river is known as the Ganga, or Ganges River by westerners. The controversial Tehri dam lies at the confluence of the Bhāgirathi and the Bhilangna, at 30°22′32″N 78°28′48″E / 30.37556°N 78.48000°E / 30.37556; 78.48000, near Tehri. Chaukhamba I is the highest point of the Bhagirathi basin.


There are 18 dams along the Bhāgirathi River, either in operation, under construction or planned. These are, in order from the source:

Hydroelectric Dams on the Bhāgirathi River[6]
Abbreviations: MW: electrical output capacity(Megawatts), Ht: dam height(M) FRL: full reservoir level (MSL), MWL:maximum water level(MSL), HRT: head race tunnel length(KM), TRT: tail race tunnel length(KM), TWL: tail water level(MSL), RBL: river bed level at dam site(MSL)
# Name Ht MW Status FRL MWL HRT TRT TWL RBL Coordinates
1 Karmoli Dam 140 planned 8.6
2 Gangotri Dam 55 planned 5.2
3 Jadhganga Dam 50 planned 1.1
4 Bhaironghati I Dam 380 planned
5 Bhaironghati II Dam 65 planned
6 Harsil Dam 210 planned 5.06
7 Loharinag Pala Dam 600 cancelled 2,147 1,667 13.85 .51 1.665 30°58′6″N 78°41′56″E / 30.96833°N 78.69889°E / 30.96833; 78.69889
8 Pala Maneri I Dam 78 480 cancelled 1,665 1,667 12.563 1.378
9 Maneri Dam 38 90 operation 8.631
10 Joshiyara (Bhali) Dam 304 operation 16.0
11 Bhilangana II Dam 11 planned
12 Bhilangana I Dam 22.5 planned 2.0
13 Tehri Dam 260.5 2,400 operation 830 835 1.634 .8625 30°22′40″N 78°28′50″E / 30.37778°N 78.48056°E / 30.37778; 78.48056
14 Koteshwar Dam 97.5 400 operation 612.50 615
15 Kotli Bel 1A Dam 82.5 195 construction
16 Kotli Bel 1B Dam 90 320 cancelled
17 Kotli Bel II Dam 82 530 cancelled


  1. ^ Catchment Area Treatment:, Bhagirathi River Valley Development Authority, Uttaranchal
  2. ^ Mankodi, Kirit (1973) "Gaṅgā Tripathagā"Artibus Asiae 35(1/2): pp. 139-144, p. 140
  3. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam (ed.). India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 76.
  4. ^ "Gangaa/Ganga of Purana Index".
  5. ^ "The Story of Ganga : River Goddess".
  6. ^ "Map of the Bhagirathi River showing dams" (PDF). Dams, Rivers & People. South Asian Network on Dams Rivers & People( August 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 May 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2010.


External linksEdit