Assam, a northeastern state of India, is incomplete without the river Brahmaputra. It is the lifeline that has shaped the human civilization in this part of the world since time immemorial.
The Brahmaputra, one of the greatest river systems of the world, is the lifeline of Assam. It has been shaping the geographical as well as the geological profile of the state, as well the backbone of Assamese Civilisation. Although the Assamese people claimed it to be their own and worship it, the river solely does not belong to this northeastern state of India. It is, in fact, a truly international river. With a drainage area of 580000 square km, the river crosses 2880 km from its source Chema Yung Dung to its mouth in the Bay of Bengal. The river, known as Tsangpo in Tibet, flows 1625 km over the Tibetan plateau, then enters a narrow deep gorge at Pe (3500m from MSL) and then continues its journey southwards across the east-west ranges of Himalayas before entering the Assam Plain. The two rivers Dibang and Lohit join the river in Arunachal Pradesh, India and hereafter it is known as the Brahmaputra. The river traverses 918 km in India and rests 337 km in Bangladesh before emptying into the Bay of Bengal through a joint channel with the Ganga.
It holds a special place in Hindu mythology where it is regarded as the son of Brahma, the creator of the universe and Lady Amogha. It is also said that Parshuram, the incarnation of Vishnu, the nurture of the universe, committed matricide and the sin was so terrible that the ax he used was stuck to his hand. He visited many holy places but the ax came off once he washed his hands in the Brahmaputra. Relieved, he cut one side of the mountains that were guarding the river to help the locale.
The whole riverside is a cradle of different tribes and various cultures. The Ahoms settled on its banks and reigned for 600 years. Various tribes like Mising, Bodo, Karbi, Chutiya, Moran, Motok, Dimasa, Garo, Rabha, Hajong, Tais and several tribes have built their homes centering the Brahmaputra valley. The banks of the river are picturesque and full of natural and cultural heritage.
Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Brahmaputra
Natural Heritage of the Brahmaputra
- The Brahmaputra is home to the world’s largest and the smallest river islands.
- It is 2880 km long and it is the fourth longest river in the world.
- It has its origin in Chemayungdung mountain ranges, southeast of Mansarovar lake in the MountKailash range in Southern Tibet and ends in Bangladesh at the Bay of Bengal.
- The Brahmaputra has world’s deepest gorge in the Namcha Barwa range, also known as Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon.
- The Brahmaputra has a drainage area is 580000 km².
- It has more than thousands of tributaries and sub-tributaries in both the banks.
- The river has numerous wetlands along its course which is home to precious wildlife.
Cultural Heritage of the Brahmaputra
- The banks of the Brahmaputra is home to numerous indigenous tribes.
- There are thousands of towns, cities, villages and hamlets along its course.
- The largest river island in the river, Majuli is home to Assam’s Sattriya culture.
- The smallest river island of the river, Umananda or the Peacock island is home to Shaktism with a Shiva temple.
- Kamakhya, the center of tantrism of India is situated on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra.
- Saraighat, the battlefield where the Ahoms defeated the mighty Mughals, is situated on the southern bank of the river.
- Biswanath ghat or Guptakashi is situated on the northern bank of the river.
- The fertile alluvium soil of the river has made the Brahmaputra valley of the major tea producing regions in the world.
Here are some of the glimpses of the pristine beauty of the river Brahmaputra
If you want to know more about the history of the Brahmaputra, click here.