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The district abounds in rivers some of which originate within the fold of the district and,assuming a peripheral course along the borderline, enter the Garhwal region and eventually merges into the Ganga and have thus been geographically grouped under the rivers of the Ganga system. These are:
Girthi : This river has a short course in the extreme NW of Pithoragarh and, moving along Kungribingri range in a west and south west course, finally enters in the Garhwal region.
Keogad : To the north of Girthi and alike having a short course in Pithoragarh the Keogad river moving along the inner enclosures of the district enters the Garhwal region.
Then again, there are rivers so gigantic and dominating that they have, infact, become a way of life. They thunder through the district, determine geographical borders with the neighbouring country, nourish cultures along their course and cause economic boom or recession according as they are kind or playful.
Kali : The river Kali originating from trans Himalayan zone forms the continuous border with Nepal all through its course from Kalapani to Tanakpur where terminating its serpentine hilly course it finally enters plains and is then called Sharda. Along its vast catchment in the entire northern and eastern parts of Pithoragarh, the Kali is almost a human presence,masterful yet benign.The Kali river possesses an immense potential for irrigation and hydro electric generation and a project for the construction of a massive dam at Pancheswar is pending under political negotiations with Nepal.
Gori : Originating from a dual source in a glacier near south of Untadhura ridge feeding the eastern branch, and another glacier near Milam feeding the western branch, the Gori river joins the Kali at Jauljibi.
Dhauli : Dhauli is, infact, a combination of two head waters namely Dharamganga and Lassar with the glacier close to Darma pass as their source and, taking a south eastern course, finally joins Kali and serves as its important tributary.
Kutiyangti : This river originates from a small glacier along the southern base of Lumpiyadhura Pass and is a tributary of Kali.
Sarju : Originating from the extreme south of adjacent Almora district, the river Sarju makes the south west boundary between Pithoragarh and Almora and, finally, at a point at Pancheswar, it joins Kali along with Panar river.
Ram Ganga : Forming the boundary between Almora and Pithoragarh districts the Ram Ganga originates from the Namik glacier. The river is fed by numerous small and big rivers and finally joins Sarju at Rameshwar.There are scriptual evidences which bearout that the great sage Vasistha also performed penance here and that the river Sarju originating from the feet of Lord Vishnu has journeyed to the ashram of Vasistha.The river is held in great reverence and is traditionally associated by the Hindu population of the district with the belief that it is gifted with the power of condoning their sins and hence is a preferred spot for cremation.
Average annual surface flow of the rivers of district Pithoragarh :
|Rivers||Av. Annual flow
|Ram Ganga (E)||3.1||Thal||Greater Himalaya|
Traditional Drinking water Sources and natural lakes
The human settlements in different remote regions of Pithoragarh were principally based upon the factor of the easy availability of pure drinking water and it is a notable feature of all upland habitations that the under ground water reservoirs capable of supplying drinking water perennially either in the forms of guided springs called dharas or covered storages called Naulas, have been a primary source of water supply. Some of the underground reservoirs are so enormous that they emerge as rivers in lesser Himalaya and are continuously replenished either by the snow melts or by the rain water.
There are a number of such spout springs (dharas) and covered storages (Naulas) which over a long period have gathered legends around them due either to their topography, architecture or location special, so much so that they have now become chosen picnic spots e.g., to the north of Dharchula is situated a hot water spring at the bank of Kali in a place called Tapowan and another in Madkot.
Perhaps heights and lakes do not make a very probable combination but be lying the normal belief, Pithoragarh possesses wonders of natural lakes in the form of Jollingkong and Ancherital at an elevation of 4634 and 3658 meters respectively.