Saturday, 24 March 2012

Ghaggar-Hakra River, Bahawalpur Pakistan

(Route of Ghaggar-Hakra River - Ancient River Bahawalpur State)

The Ghaggar-Hakra River (Devnagri[1]: घग्गर हकरा, Gurmukhi[2]: ਘੱਗਰ ਹਕਰਾ, Shahmukhi[3]: گهگـر هکره) is an intermittent river in India and Pakistan that flows only during the monsoon season. The river is known as Ghaggar before the Ottu barrage[4] and as the Hakra downstream of the barrage. The Ghaggar-Hakra is generally identified with the Vedic Sarasvati River[5] by most scholars, though it is disputed whether all Rigvedic[6] references to the Sarasvati should be taken to refer to this river. The identification of the Vedic Sarasvati River with the Ghaggar-Hakra River was accepted by Christian Lassen, Max Müller,  Marc Aurel Stein, C.F. Oldham,  and Jane Macintosh.

Ghaggar River
The Ghaggar is an intermittent river in India, flowing during the monsoon rains. It originates in the Shivalik Hills of Himachal Pradesh and flows through Punjab and Haryana states into Rajasthan; just southwest of Sirsa, Haryana and by the side of talwara jheel in Rajasthan, this seasonal river feeds two irrigation canals that extend into Rajasthan.

The present-day Sarsuti (Saraswati River) originates in a submontane region (Ambala district) and joins the Ghaggar near Shatrana in Punjab. Near Sadulgarh (Hanumangarh) the Naiwal channel, a dried out channel of the Sutlej, joins the Ghaggar. Near Suratgarh the Ghaggar is then joined by the dried up Drishadvati (Chautang) river.

The wide river bed (paleo-channel) of the Ghaggar river suggest that the river once flowed full of water during the great meltdown of the Himalayan Ice Age glaciers, some 10,000 years ago, and that it then continued through the entire region, in the presently dry channel of the Hakra River, possibly emptying into the Rann of Kutch[7]. It supposedly dried up due to the capture of its tributaries by the Indus system and the Yamuna[8] river, and later on, additionally, the loss of water in much of its catchment area due to deforestation and overgrazing. This is supposed by some to have happened at the latest in 1900 BCE, but actually took place much earlier.

Puri and Verma (1998) have argued that the present-day Tons River was the ancient upper-part of the Sarasvati River, which would then had been fed with Himalayan glaciers. The terrain of this river contains pebbles of quartzite and metamorphic rocks, while the lower terraces in these valleys do not contain such rocks. However, recent studies show that Bronze Age sediments from the glaciers of the Himalayas are missing along the Ghaggar-Hakra, indicating that the river did not or no longer have its sources in the high mountains. 

In India there are also various small or middle-sized rivers called Sarasvati or Saraswati. One of them flows from the west end of the Aravalli Range into the east end of the Rann of Kutch.

Hakra River
The Hakra is the dried-out channel of a river in Pakistan that is the continuation of the Ghaggar River in India. Several times, but not continuously, it carried the water of the Sutlej during the Bronze Age period. Many settlements of the Indus Valley Civilisation have been found along and inside the river beds of the Ghaggar and Hakra rivers.

The Sarasvati River is mentioned in all books of the Rigveda except the fourth. It is the only river with hymns entirely dedicated to it: RV 6.61, RV 7.95 and RV 7. 96.It is mentioned as a divine and large river,which flows "from the mountains to the samudra," which some take as the Indian Ocean. Talageri states that "the references to the Sarasvati far outnumber the references to the Indus" and "The Sarasvati is so important in the whole of the Rigveda that it is worshipped as one of the Three Great Goddesses". However, the reason for the predominance of the Sarasvati in the Rigveda is the late Harappan (1900-1300 BCE) population shift eastwards to Haryana; the latter part of the period corresponds to the common scholarly opinion of the date of this text.

Another reference to the Sarasvati is in the geographical enumeration of the rivers in the late Rigvedic Nadistuti sukta (10.75.5, this verse enumerates all important rivers from the Ganges in the east up to the Indus in the west in a strict geographical order), as "Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Shutudri", the Sarasvati is placed between the Yamuna and the Sutlej, consistent with the Ghaggar identification. It is clear, therefore, that even if the river had unmistakably lost much of her former prominence, the Sarasvati remained characterized as a river goddess almost throughout the Rigveda.

According to some palaeo-environmental scientists and Archaeologists,between 2500 BCE and 1900 BCE some tectonic disturbances caused tilt in topography of Northwest India resulting in the migration of river. The Sutlej moved westward and became a tributary of the Indus River while the Yamuna moved eastward and became a tributary of the Ganges. The Yamuna shifted its course eastwards, supposedly in the early 2nd millennium BCE, allegedly reaching its current bed by 1st millennium BCE, while the Drishadvati bed retained only a small seasonal flow. The Sutlej several times over shifted its channel northwards and was eventually captured by the Indus system. The water loss due to these movements caused the Sarasvati river to dry up in the Thar Desert.

However, Henri-Paul Francfort, utilizing images from the French satellite SPOT already two decades ago, found that the large river Sarasvati is pre-Harappan altogether and started drying up already in the middle of the 4th millennium BC; during Harappan times only a complex irrigation-canal network was being used. The date should therefore be pushed back to c 3800 BC. R. Mughal (1997), summing up the evidence, concludes that the Bronze Age Ghaggar-Hakra sometimes carried more, sometimes less water (for example derived from the Sutlej). The latter point agrees with a recent isotope study. Painted Grey Ware sites (ca. 1000 BCE) have been found in the river bed and not on the banks of the Ghaggar-Hakra river, which suggests that river was certainly dried up by this period. 

The Rig Vedic hymn X 75, however, gives a list of names of rivers where Sarasvati is merely mentioned while Sindhu receives praise. It is commonly agreed that the tenth Book of the Rig Veda is later than the others. Some revisionists think, ahistorically, that this may indicate that the Rig Veda could be dated to a period after the first drying up of Sarasvati (c. 3500 BCE) when the river lost its preeminence.

Scholars, however, commonly date the Rig Veda to after the Indus Valley culture, arguing for example, that the lack of clear evidence of domesticated equids at Indus Valley culture sites contrasts with the Rig Veda's frequent references to domesticated horses. Scholars also interpret frequent use in the Rig Veda of the word "ratha", which in later Sanskrit can mean any kind of carriage, to be references specifically to horse-drawn, spoked-wheeled war chariots, whereas the only carts (called 'anas' in Vedic) found at Indus Valley culture sites are solid-wheeled bullock carts. There are indeed a number of mentions in the Rig Veda of spoked (ara) wheels, horse-drawn chariots and the use of chariots in sport, competition and battle, including also the deity Indra's vehicle. Indra is described as throwing his vajra weapon from a heavenly "ratha" pulled by two "hari" horses, a noun form of "bay".

The many archeological sites along the bed of Sarasvati (variously given as 414 or even 600) dwarf the number of sites so far recorded along the Indus River, which number less (about three dozen). However, most of the Harappan sites along the Sarasvati are found in desert country, and have remained undisturbed since the end of the Indus Civilization. This contrasts with the heavy alluvium of the Indus and other large Panjab rivers that have obscured Harappan sites, including part of Mohenjo Daro[9]. About 80 percent of the Sarasvati sites are datable to the fourth or third millennium BCE, suggesting that the river was flowing during (part of) this period, which is also indicated by the fact that some Indus sites are found inside the bed of the Ghaggar-Hakra.

Association with the Harappan civilization
Some estimate that the period at which the river dried up range, very roughly, from 2500 to 2000 BC, with a further margin of error at either end of the date-range. This may be precise in geological terms, but for the mature Indus Valley Civilization[10] (2600 to 1900 BC) it makes all the difference whether the river dried up in 2500 (its early phase) or 2000 (its late phase). By contact with remnants of the IVC like the Cemetery H culture, legendary knowledge of the event may have been acquired.

Along the course of the Ghaggar-Hakra river are many archaeological sites of the Indus Valley Civilization; but not further south than the middle of Bahawalpur[11] district. It has been assumed that the Sarasvati ended there in a series of terminal lakes, and some think that its water only reached the Indus or the sea in very wet rainy seasons. However, satellite images contradict this: they do not show subterranean water in reservoirs in the dunes between the Indus and the end of the Hakra west of Fort Derawar[12]/Marot. It may also have been affected by much of its water being taken for irrigation.

In a survey conducted by M.R. Mughal between 1974 and 1977, over 400 sites were mapped along 300 miles of the Hakra river. The majority of these sites were dated to the fourth or third millennium BCE. 

S. P. Gupta however counts over 600 sites of the Indus civilization on the Ghaggar-Hakra river and its tributaries. For ereason stated above, only 90 to 96 Indus Valley sites have been discovered on the Indus and its tributaries (about 36 sites on the Indus river itself.) V.N. Misra states that over 530 Harappan sites (of the more than 800 known sites, not including Late Harappan or OCP) are located on the Ghaggar-Hakra. The other sites are mainly in Kutch-Saurashtra (nearly 200 sites), Yamuna Valley (nearly 70 Late Harappan sites) and in the Indus Valley, in Baluchistan, and in the NW Frontier Province (less than 100 sites).

Most of the Mature Harappan sites are located in the middle Ghaggar-Hakra river valley, and some on the Indus and in Kutch-Saurashtra. However, just as in other contemporary cultures, such as the BMAC, settlements move up-river due to climate changes around 2000 BCE. In the late Harappan period the number of late Harappan sites in the middle Ghaggar-Hakra channel and in the Indus valley diminishes, while it expands in the upper Ghaggar-Sutlej channels and in Saurashtra. The abandonment of many sites on the Ghaggar-Hakra between the Harappan and the Late Harappan phase was probably due to the drying up of the Ghaggar-Hakra river.

Because most of the Indus Valley sites known so far are actually located on the Ghaggar-Hakra river and its tributaries and not on the Indus river, some Indian archaeologists, such as S.P. Gupta, have proposed to use the term "Indus Sarasvati Civilization" to refer to the Harappan culture which is named, as is common in archaeology, after the first place where the culture was discovered.

Ancient Tributaries
Satellite photography has shown that the Ghaggar-Hakra was indeed a large river that dried up several times (see Mughal 1997). The dried out Hakra river bed is between three and ten kilometers wide. Recent research indicates that the Sutlej and possibly also the Yamuna once flowed into the Ghaggar-Hakra river bed. The Sutlej and Yamuna Rivers have changed their courses several times. 

Paleobotanical information also documents the aridity that developed after the drying up of the river. (Gadgil and Thapar 1990 and references therein). The disappearance of the river may additionally have been caused by earthquakes which may have led to the redirection of its tributaries. It has also been suggested that the loss of rainfall in much of its catchment area as well as deforestation and overgrazing may have also contributed to the drying up of the river. However, a similar phenomenon, caused by climate change, is also seen at about the same period north of the Hindu Kush, in the area of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex.

There are no Harappan sites on the Sutlej in its present lower course, only in its upper course near the Siwaliks, and along the dried up channel of the ancient Sutlej, which indicates the Sutlej did flow into the Ghaggar-Hakra at that time.
(Sutlej River Bahawalpur)

At Ropar the Sutlej river suddenly turns sharply away from the Ghaggar. The narrow Ghaggar river bed itself is becoming suddenly wider at the conjunction where the Sutlej should have met the Ghaggar river. There also is a major paleochannel between the turning point of the Sutlej and where the Ghaggar river bed widens. 

In later texts like the Mahabharata, the Rigvedic Sutudri (of unknown, non-Sanskrit etymology) is called Shatudri (Shatadru/Shatadhara), which means a river with 100 flows. As mentioned, the Sutlej (and the Beas and Ravi) have frequently changed their courses. The Beas probably joined the Sutlej (as in Rgveda 3.33) further downstream from where it joins that river today. Before that time, the Sutlej is said to have flowed into Ghaggar. 

There are no Harappan sites on the present Yamuna river. There are however Painted Gray Ware (1000 - 600 BC) sites along the Yamuna channel, showing that the river must have then flowed in the present channel. The sparse distribution of the Painted Gray Ware sites in the Ghaggar river valley indicates that during this period the Ghaggar river was already partly dried up.

Scholars like Raikes (1968) and Suraj Bhan (1972, 1973, 1975, 1977) have shown that based on archaeological, geomorphic and sedimentological research the Yamuna may have flowed into the Sarasvati during Harappan times. There are several dried out river beds (paleochannels) between the Sutlej and the Yamuna, some of them two to ten kilometres wide. They are not always visible on the ground because of excessive silting and encroachment by sand of the dried out river channels. The Yamuna may have flowed into the Sarasvati river through the Chautang or the Drishadvati channel, since many Harappan sites have been discovered on these dried out river beds. 

Identification with the Rigvedic Sarasvati
Main article: Sarasvati River
The identity of the dried-up Ghaggar-Hakra with the late Vedic and post-Vedic Sarasvati is widely accepted. The identification of the early Rigvedic Sarasvati with the Old Ghaggar is another matter, and the subject of recent dispute. The identification with the Sarasvati River is based the mentionings in Vedic texts (e.g. in the enumeration of the rivers in Rigveda 10.75.05 - the order is Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati, SutudriSutlej), Parusni, etc. - and other geological and paleobotanical findings. This however, is disputed. The Victorian era scholar C.F. Oldham (1886) was the first to suggest that geological events had redirected the river, and to connect it to the lost Sarasvati: "[it] was formerly the Sarasvati; that name is still known amongst the people, and the famous fortress of Sarsuti or Sarasvati was built upon its banks, nearly 100 miles below the present junction with the Ghaggar." It also is alleged that the Nara is still called the Sarasvati by rural Sindhis and its dried up delta in Kutch is still regarded as that of Sarasvati by the locals.
  1. Between 2500 BCE and 1900 BCE,Some techtonic disturbances caused tilt in topography of Northwest India resulting in the migration of rivers. The Sutlej moved westward and became a tributary of the Indus River while the Yamuna moved eastward and became a tributary of the Ganges. The water loss due to these movements caused the river to dry up in the Thar Desert, without reaching the sea. Later Vedic texts record the river as disappearing at Vinasana (literally, "the disappearing") or Upamajjana, and in post-Vedic texts as joining both the Yamuna and Ganges as an invisible river at Prayaga (Allahabad). Some claim that the sanctity of the modern Ganges is directly related to its assumption of the holy, life-giving waters of the ancient Saraswati.
  2. The identification is also justified by post-Vedic literature like Mahabharata.According to Adi Parvan of the Mahabharata(1.90.25-26),it is mentioned that "Many kings performed yajña (sacrifice) in Fire altars at the bank of Sarasvati river, which is connected with the alleged Harappan fire altars at Kalibangan, a town located on the left or southern banks of the Ghaggar River. They are even assumed by some to be Vedic  and that the structures may perhaps have been used for ritual purposes. 
  3. The Mahabharata says that the Sarasvati dried up in a desert (at a place named Vinasana or Adarsana). According to the Mahabharata, the river dried up in order that the Nishadas and Abhiras might not see her. The Mahabharata also states that Vasishtha committed suicide by throwing himself into the Sutlej and that the Sutlej then broke up in a 100 channels (Yash Pal in S.P. Gupta 1995: 175). This myth seems to be related with the changing of the course of the Sutlej river. According to the Mahabharata (3.81.115), Kurukshetra is south of the Sarasvati and north of the Drishadvati. In the Sabha Parvan of the Mahabharata (2.29.8) it is mentioned that "Nakula conquered the Shudra and Abhira who lived at the bank of the Sarasvati near the Sindhu (Indus) river.

[1] Devnagri is an abugida alphabet of India and Nepal. It is written from left to right, does not have distinct letter cases, and is recognizable by a horizontal line that runs along the top of full letters. Devanāgarī is the main script used to write Standard Hindi, Marathi, and Nepali. Since the 19th century, it has been the most commonly used script for Sanskrit. Devanāgarī is also employed for Bhojpuri, Gujari, Pahari, (Garhwali and Kumaoni), Konkani, Magahi, Maithili, Marwari, Bhili, Newari, Santhali, Tharu, and sometimes Sindhi, Dogri, Sherpa and by Kashmiri-speaking Hindus. It was formerly used to write Gujarati.

[2] Gurmukhi is the most common script used for writing the Punjabi language. An abugida derived from the Laṇḍā script and ultimately descended from Brahmi, Gurmukhi was standardized by the second Sikh guru, Guru Angad Dev Ji, in the 16th century. The whole of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji's 1430 pages are written in this script. The name Gurmukhi is derived from the Old Punjabi term "guramukhī", meaning "from the mouth of the Guru". Gurmukhi is primarily used in the Punjab state of India where it is the sole official script for all official and judicial purpose. The script is also widely used in the Indian states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and the national capital of Delhi, with Punjabi being one of the official language in these states. 

[3] Shahmukhi is a Punjabi variant of the Perso-Arabic script. Nastaʿlīq is a portmanteau word of naskh of Arabic and ta'aliq, (an ancient style of the Persian alphabet used in Iran). Both of the scripts of Iranian and Arabic roots were amalgamated and invented by Ameer Ali Tabrezi in Tabrez to be used as the standard characters to write the Persian language.
The Shahmukhi script was first used by the Sufi poets of the Punjab; it became an official writing style for the Muslim populace of the Pakistani province of Punjab following the Partition of India, while the largely Sikh province of Punjab, India adopted the Gurmukhi script is to record the Punjabi language. The text of Nasta'aliq is written in the right to left direction and from right page to left page; but Gurmukhi is written from left to right. 

[4] The Ottu barrage (sometimes spelled as the Otu barrage and also known as Ottu Head, is a masonry weir on the Ghaggar-Hakra river in Haryana state of India that creates a large water reservoir out of the formerly-small Dhanur lake, located near the village of Ottu, which is about 8 miles from Sirsa in Haryana. It is a feeder for the two Ghaggar canals (the Northern Ghaggar canal and the Southern Ghaggar canal) that carry irrigation water to northern Rajasthan state. 

[5] The Sarasvati River is one of the chief Rigvedic rivers mentioned in ancient Hindu texts. The Nadistuti hymn in the Rigveda (10.75) mentions the Sarasvati between the Yamuna in the east and the Sutlej in the west, and later Vedic texts like Tandya and Jaiminiya Brahmanas as well as the Mahabharata mention that the Sarasvati dried up in a desert. The goddess Sarasvati was originally a personification of this river, but later developed an independent identity and gained meaning.
The identification of the Vedic Sarasvati River with the Ghaggar-Hakra River was accepted by Christian Lassen,[1] Max Müller, Marc Aurel Stein, C.F. Oldham[3] and Jane Macintosh, while some Vedic scholars (eg. Kochhar 1999) believe the Helmand River of southern Afghanistan corresponds to the Sarasvati River.

[6] The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. It is counted among the four canonical sacred texts (śruti) of Hinduism known as the Vedas. Some of its verses are still recited as Hindu prayers, at religious functions and other occasions, putting these among the world's oldest religious texts in continued use. The Rigveda contains several mythological and poetical accounts of the origin of the world, hymns praising the gods, and ancient prayers for life, prosperity, etc.
It is one of the oldest extant texts in any Indo-European language. Philological and linguistic evidence indicate that the Rigveda was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, roughly between 1700–1100 BC (the early Vedic period).

[7] Rann of Kutch is a salt marsh located in western tip of Gujarat (primarily the Kutch district), India. It is divided into twp main parts; Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch. The Rann of Kutch is covered in 5,000 square feet (0.00 sq mi). The climatic and geo-morphological expansion of the grassland and desserts of the Rann of Kutch has formed Gujarat.
[8] The Yamuna is the largest tributary river of the Ganges (Ganga) in northern India.

[9] Mohenjo-daro, lit. Mound of the Dead, Sindhi: موئن جو دڙو), is an archeological site situated in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Built around 2600 BC, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and one of the world's earliest major urban settlements, existing at the same time as the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Crete. Mohenjo-daro was abandoned in the 19th century BC, and was not rediscovered until 1922. Significant excavation has since been conducted at the site of the city, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

[10] The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) located in the western region of South Asia, and spread over what are now Pakistan, northwest India, and eastern Afghanistan. Flourishing in the Indus River basin, the civilization extended east into the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the upper reaches Ganges-Yamuna Doab; it extended west to the Makran coast of Balochistan and north to northeastern Afghanistan. The civilization was spread over some 1,260,000 km², making it the largest ancient civilization.
The Indus Valley is one of the world's earliest urban civilizations, along with its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. At its peak, the Indus Civilization may have had a population of well over five million. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley developed new techniques in metallurgy and handicraft (carneol products, seal carving) and produced copper, bronze, lead, and tin. The civilization is noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system, and multistoried houses.
The Indus Valley Civilization is also known as the Harappan Civilization, as the first of its cities to be unearthed was located at Harappa, excavated in the 1920s in what was at the time the Punjab province of British India (now in Pakistan). Excavation of Harappan sites has been ongoing since 1920, with important breakthroughs occurring as recently as 1999. There were earlier and later cultures, often called Early Harappan and Late Harappan, in the same area of the Harappan Civilization. The Harappan civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to distinguish it from these cultures. To date, over 1,052 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general region of the Indus river and its tributaries. Among the settlements were the major urban centres of Harappa, Mohenjo-daro (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Ganweriwala, Dholavira, and Rakhigarhi.

[11] Bahawalpur located in Punjab, is the twelfth largest city in Pakistan. The city was once the capital of the former princely state of Bahawalpur. The city was home to various Nawabs (rulers) and counted as part of the Rajputana states (now Rajasthan, India). The city is known for its famous palaces such as the Noor Mahal, Sadiq Ghar Palace, and Darbar Mahal, as well as the ancient fort of Derawar in the Cholistan Desert bordering India. The city is located near the historical and ancient cities of Uch and Harappa, which were once a stronghold of the Delhi Sultanate and Indus Valley Civilisation. The city is home to one of the few natural safari parks in Pakistan, Lal Suhanra National Park.

[12] Derawar Fort is a large square fortress in Pakistan near Bahawalpur. The forty bastions of Derawar are visible for many miles in Cholistan Desert. The walls have a circumference of 1500 metres and stand up to thirty metres high.
The first fort on the site was built by Hindu Rajput, Rai Jajja Bhati of Jaisalmer. It remained in the hands of the royal family of Jaisalmer until captured and completely rebuilt by the nawabs of Bahawalpur in 1733. In 1747, the fort slipped from the hands of the Abbasis owing to Bahawal Khan's preoccupations at Shikarpur. Nawab Mubarak Khan took the stronghold back in 1804.

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