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The Sarayu is a river that flows through the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. This river is of ancient significance, finding mentions in the Vedas and the Ramayana, which may not refer the present Sarayu river of UP, but present Hari-Rud river (Harayu in avestan language), flowing through Afganistan-Iran-Turkamenistan common borders. The Sarayu forms at the confluence of the Karnali (or Ghaghara) and Mahakali (or Sharda) in Bahraich District. The Mahakali or Sharda forms to indo-nepal border. Ayodhya is situated on the banks of river Sarayu. Some mapmakers[1] consider the Sarayu to be just a section of the lower Ghaghara River.

Sarayu River.jpg
Other name(s) Kali River, Sarda River
Physical characteristics
Main source Himalayas
4,150 m (13,620 ft)
River mouth Tributary of Ganges
Length 350 km (220 mi)
Basin features
Basin size Eastern Kumaon - Western Nepal

On Ram Navami, the festival that celebrates the birthday of Bhagwan Rama, thousands of people take a dip in the Sarayu River at Ayodhya.[2]



Ram Paidi ghat at Ayodhya.

The name is the feminine derivative of the Sanskrit root सर् sar "to flow"; as a masculine stem, saráyu- means "air, wind", i.e. "that which is streaming".

Origin and courseEdit

The Sarayu forms at the confluence of the Karnali (or Ghaghara) and Mahakali (or Sharda) in Bahraich District at 27°40′27″N 81°16′39″E / 27.67417°N 81.27750°E / 27.67417; 81.27750. It flows into the Ganges at 25°44′36″N 84°40′01″E / 25.74333°N 84.66694°E / 25.74333; 84.66694.



The river is mentioned three times in the Rigveda. The banks of the Sarayu are the location of the slaying of two Aryas at the hands of Indra in RV 4.30.18. It is listed together with western tributaries to the Indus: Rasā, Anitabha, Kubha, Krumu, and the Sindhu itself as obstacles crossed by the Maruts in RV 5.53.9. In this verse, Purisini appears as its epithet. At this stage of the earlier Rigveda, it apparently was a river west of the Indus system that corresponds to Iranian Harayu (Avestan acc. Harōiium, Old Persian Haraiva, modern Harē or Harī), the Hari River. It is invoked together with Sindhu and Sarasvati (two of the most prominent Rigvedic rivers) in the late hymn RV 10.64. There was no mention of Ganga River both in Rigveda and in Valmiki Ramayana.

Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana crossing river Sarayu.

Later on, after few millenniums, according to modified Ramayanas written in different regional Indian languages, especially in Ram Charit Manas by Goswami Tulsi Das 1.5.6, the Sarayu flowed beside the ancient city of Ayodhya, which is in the modern day Uttar Pradesh. It was a tributary of the Gogra. This Sarayu played a vital role for the city and life of Ayodhya, and according to the Ram Charit Manas, is where Rama, the seventh Avatar of Vishnu immersed himself to return to his eternal, real Mahavishnu form, when he retired from the throne of Kosala. His brothers Bharata and Shatrughna also joined him, as did many devoted followers. The Sarayu is also the river upon whose banks King Rama was born.

According to a sub-story within the Ramayana, the banks of the River Sarayu is also the place where King Dashratha accidentally killed Shravan Kumar. (Citation?)

In ancient times Aciravati was one of the tributaries of the Sarayu.[3]


While the Sarayu river plays an important role in RigVeda and Atharva Veda along with Ramayana. Ayodhya, capital of King Rama is mentioned on the banks of Sarayu river. Sarayu river is mentioned in great details in Ramayana, which originated at Hindu Kush mountain and was flowing thru Herat region of Aryan heart land (Arya Bhumi), now in Afganistan and presently called as Hari-Rud (Harayu River in Avestan Language). Interestingly, there was no mention of River Ganga Ganges in Rigveda and also in Valmiki Ramayana. Ayodhya or Ayuthya (as locally called) is the ancient capital of Shyam Desh (Thailand) and king of Thailand is still revered decedent of King Rama of Ramayana. It is totally confusing that, Ayodhya still exists on the banks of river Sarayu in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is a tributary of the Ganges which meets two other rivers at the confluence (sangam) in Uttar Pradesh.

Linkage with Queen of ancient Korea, Heo Hwang-okEdit

The Heo Hwang-ok was a princess of Ayodhya, who married king Suro of Geumgwan Gaya of Korea.[4] In 2008, her memorial was built by the Korean government on the west bank of sarayu river, and Ayodhya was declared as sister city of Incheon.[5][6]

In fictionEdit

Sarayu is also the name of the river that flows by the fictional town of Malgudi created by the Indian writer R. K. Narayan.

Sarayu is the name given to the personification of the Holy Spirit in "The Shack" created by American Novelist William P. Young.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Plate 30: India, Plains : Nepal : Mt. Everest". The Times Atlas of the World (seventh ed.). Edinburgh: John Bartholomew & Sons, Ltd. and Times Books, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-8129-1298-2. 
  2. ^ At Ayodhya, Ram Navami celebrated amid religious harmony Indian Express, 15 April 2008.
  3. ^ Kapoor, Subodh. Encyclopaedia of Ancient Indian Geography. p. 5. Google books. Retrieved 2010-08-18. 
  4. ^ Il-yeon (tr. by Ha Tae-Hung & Grafton K. Mintz) (1972). Samguk Yusa. Seoul: Yonsei University Press. ISBN 89-7141-017-5. 
  5. ^ "Korea's royal connection to Ayodhya", Sanskriti Magazine, 15 Aug 2014.
  6. ^ Koreans want to nurture Ayodhya — birthplace of their Queen Ho, Express India, 2008-09-01.


External linksEdit