The Saraswati, a river mentioned in the Rigveda and Hindu mythology and so far considered a mythical river, did exist, a government-constituted experts’ committee has found. The expert committee comprised of geologists, archaeologists and hydrologists.
Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti said the government would take action on the report, which according to her, “cannot be challenged”.
“The Saraswati originated in the Himalayas and passed through Haryana, Rajasthan and north Gujarat,” eminent geologist Prof KS Valdiya, who led the panel, said. The report commissioned by the Water Resources Ministry was made public on October 15.
The panel concluded that evidence from palaeochannels — remnants of defunct rivers — suggested that the Sarsuti-Markanda rivulets in Haryana were the water courses of the “eastern branch of a Himalayan river” and the Ghaggar-Patiali channels were the western branches.
These branches met in Shatrana, 25 kilometres south of Patiala and “flowed as a large river” emptying out into the sea that is now the Rann of Kutch. Valdiya said the Saraswati passed through Pakistan before meeting the western sea through the Rann of Kutch and was 4,000 km in length. One-third of the river stretch fell in the present-day Pakistan. The longer, two-third stretch (around 3,000 km) was in India, he claimed.
Hailed in the Rig Veda as the greatest mother, river, and goddesses, historians believe it had dried up 4,000 years ago. In Rig Veda, the river is mentioned as flowing between the Yamuna in the east and the Sutlej in the west. The Mahabharata, mentions that the Saraswati dried up in a desert.
There are theories that suggest that the drying up of the river led to the shifting of the Vedic people from India’s northwest to the Indo-Gangetic plain.
The Centre and especially Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharati had in 2014 made “finding the missing river” a priority of the Modi government. Even Haryana government was involved in tracing the origin of the mythical Saraswati. Last year, people involved in digging the course of the Saraswati in Mugalwali village of Yamunanagar district found water gushing out when they burrowed to a depth of eight feet.
For the excavation work, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has made budgetary provisions worth Rs 50 crore. A huge check dam, measuring 400 acres, has also been proposed on the Somb river that will be diverted to the Saraswati river.
Legend has it that the Saraswati once fed two wells known as Kapalmochan and Ranmochan in which the Pandavas had taken bath. It is believed that finding of the river will help boost religious tourism but also solve the water problem in an otherwise arid area.