Nepal is a land-locked country only 800km long and 200km wide. Though Nepal is a relatively small country in size and area, it is home to several rivers. The mountainous regions and glaciers are from where the rivers begin their journey and flow across the Terai or plain region. The rivers of Nepal are undoubtedly beautiful additions to the splendid scenic landscape of the mountain nation. Besides the many advantages of the rivers, including power generation and irrigation, the main tributaries of Nepal are excellent flag bearers of water tourism and adventure.
Here is taking a look at the different rivers of Nepal
1. The Karnali
The Karnali is one of the central and longest rivers of Nepal, originating from the Tibetan plateau near the Manasarovar Lake. Often called the ‘Wild West’, the 513-mile river flows through most of west Nepal. The Karnali basin is where a few of Nepal’s most beautiful national parks are situated. The Shey Phoksundo National Park, Rara National Park and Bardia National Park are the main protected areas along the river.
Karnali is also a significant source of cheap hydroelectricity to the regions of western Nepal. Home to different dolphin species, the popular adventure activities on the Karnali include white water rafting, angling and fishing.
The main tributary of Karnali is the Bheri that originates from the Dolpo region. A beautiful white water rafting river, the Bheri is a perfect adventure zone for those looking to get away from the crowds. The Thuli (big) and Sani (small) are its main tributaries that meet at Ramna Ghat. The clear waters and sandy beaches make the Bheri River an attraction for nature and adventure lovers.
The other tributaries of the Karnali, are the Humla Karnali, Mugu Karnali and Seti. The Seti too is a great river to traverse the more accessible rapids and enjoy kayaking and rafting.
The Karnali finally meets the Sharda River in India at Brahmaghat. Together they form the Ghaghra River that flows over the northern plains of India.
2. Kosi or Koshi
Kosi shared with India and China, flows for a total of 450 miles. Meandering along the southern slopes of Nepal, Kosi is also called the Saptakoshi because of its seven main tributaries. Each of these tributaries are excellent river systems abounding in various adventure activities coupled with stunning scenic views. Interestingly, the Kosi is also called the ‘Sorrow of Bihar’ once it enters India due to its high tendency of flooding. Although prone to floods, the Kosi in the highlands of Nepal amongst the pristine beauty of the Himalayas is an adventure magnet.
The Sun Kosi, Tamor River and Arun River, tributaries of the Kosi are well-known for various river adventures.
The Sun Kosi or the River of Gold is one of the most famous rivers for white water rafting and kayaking. Its picturesque landscapes also make it accessible for camping.
Sun Kosi features amongst the top 10 places in the world that are famous for white water rafting.
The mineral deposits sparkle on the river bed, and the several white beaches are excellent as stopovers.
Bhote Kosi, a tributary of the Sun Kosi, is also an excellent destination for bungee jumping along with river expedition activities.
The BhoteKoshi waterfall is the highlight for canoeing and rafting enthusiasts.
The Tamor River, on the one hand, offers splendid views of the Kanchanjunga along with being a right spot for kayaking.
On the other hand is the Dudh Kosi, a tributary of the Sun Kosi, which is a run off from the mighty Everest itself and a busy rafting route.
Tamakoshi, Likhu Khola and Indravati Rivers are some of the other tributaries of the Sun Kosi.
Gandaki River is also known as Narayani, and its river system lies in between the Karnali basin on the west and Kosi river system on the east. The river is also called Sapta-Gandaki because of its seven main tributaries that together form the Gandaki basin. The branches of Gandaki are famous rivers of Nepal that network together to create vital hydropower generation, as well as, various breathtaking natural features. One of its tributaries, the Kaligandaki creates a deep gorge called the Kali Gandaki Gorge or Andha Galchi.
This gorge is one of the deepest in the world, forming the fantastic Rupse Waterfall crashing from a height of 300m. Along the north of the Mahabharat Range on the Kaligandaki is Nepal’s largest hydro-power project.
The Karnali, Kosi and Gandaki together form the first class river system of Nepal, supplies most of the power and tourist attractions. These are perennial and continuous inflow. On the other hand, the second class of rivers originates from the Mahabharat Ranges and do not always flow continuously. Most of these are essential for irrigation, cultural and religious significance.
At Chitwan, the Kaligandaki converges with another vital tributary of the Gandaki, the Trishuli.
Named after the legend of Shiva, the Trishuli is believed to have been created by his trident. Easily accessible from Kathmandu and Pokhara, the Trishuli River is a popular river rafting destination. The Budi Gandaki flows into the Trishuli and is also often the starting point to rafting the Trishuli.
With exhilarating gorges, grand rapids, as well as, many manageable sections, the Trishuli River is often crowded with both experienced and beginner rafters.
The Marsyangdi with its alluring mountain scenery is a tributary of the Gandaki and is considered amongst the best for river rafting.
The Annapurna Conservation Area and Sanctuary are the added attractions which can be trekked after enjoying an exciting rafting experience.
The Madi and Seti Gandaki, both tributaries of the Gandaki are becoming the top destinations for water tourism. Rafting from the Byas Cave to Gaighat over 2/3 days is viral amongst tourists visiting Kathmandu and Pokhara.
The Kankai or Mai Khola is considered a holy river and has many tourist points along with its courses, such as the Domukha, Chuli, Dhanuskoti and Maipokhari. The Kankai Irrigation Project has also been developed recently in the Terai region of Nepal.
The Bagmati separates Kathmandu from Patan and is also considered a holy river. Several Hindu temples are located along its banks.
The West Rapti drains the mid-western regions of Nepal before entering India to join the Ghaghra. The East Rapti River flows in the Chitwan Valley and forms the northern boundary of the Chitwan National Park.
Second Class and Third Class Rivers The other second class rivers of Nepal are the Mechi, Tinau, Babai, Mohna, Trijuga and more. Lastly, the third class of rivers of Nepal originates from the Chure Hills. These rivers dry during summers and fill up during the monsoons. These are not used for transportation or hydroelectricity, but only for irrigation. Some of these rivers are the Manusmara, Jamuni, Hardinath, Tilabe and more.
Nepal has a vast geographic diversity in spite of its small size. The difference in elevation, climate and topography is the primary reason for its many thriving rivers. The rivers are an essential part of Nepal’s terrain and crucial contributors to power generation, aesthetic appeal, tourism, transportation and irrigation.