The Ghaggar is an intermittent river in India, flowing during the monsoon rains. It originates in the village of Dagshai in the Shivalik Hills of Himachal Pradesh at an elevation of 1,927 metres (6,322 ft) above mean sea level and flows through Punjab and Haryana states into Rajasthan; just southwest of Sirsa, Haryana and by the side of Talwara Lake in Rajasthan.
Dammed at Ottu barrage near Sirsa, Ghaggar feeds two irrigation canals that extend into Rajasthan.
Tributaries of the Ghaggar:
The main tributaries of the Ghaggar are the Kaushalya river, Markanda, Sarsuti, Tangri and Chautang.
The Kaushalya river is a tributary of Ghaggar river on the left side of Ghahhar-Hakra, it flows in the Panchkula district of Haryana state of India and confluences with Ghaggar river near Pinjore just downstream of Kaushalya Dam.
The Hakra is the dried-out channel of a river near Fort Abbas City in Pakistan that is the continuation of the Ghaggar River in India. Several times, but not continuously, it carried the water of the Sutlej and Ghaggar during the Bronze Age period.
Many early settlements of the Indus Valley Civilisation have been found in this area. Hakra Ware culture is believed to be the earliest pre-Harappan culture of India. Many early settlements are found along the river beds in this area.
Hakra or Hakro Darya streamed through Sindh and its sign can be found in Sindh areas such as Khairpur, Nawabshah, Sanghar and Tharparkar.
Along the course of the Ghaggar-Hakra river, there are many early archaeological sites belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization; but not further south than the middle of Bahawalpur 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 seem to 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/Marot.
The wide river bed (paleo-channel) of the Ghaggar river suggests that the river once flowed full of water during the great meltdown of the Himalayan Ice Age glaciers at the end of the Ice Age, 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.
According to Mugal the Sutlej may have flowed periodically into the Ghaggar-Hakra river bed. Mista suggested the same possibility for the Yamuna.
Analysis of sand grains using optically stimulated luminescence by Ajit Singh and others in 2017 indicated that the paleochannel of the Ghaggar-Hakra is a former course of the Sutlej, which diverted to its present course before the development of the Harappan Civilisation.
The abandonment of this older course by the Sutlej started 15,000 years ago, and was complete by 8,000 years ago. Ajit Singh et al. conclude that the urban populations settled not along a perennial river, but a monsoon-fed seasonal river that was not subject to devastating floods.
Drying-up of the Hakra :
- R. Mughal, summing up the evidence, concludes that the Bronze Age Ghaggar-Hakra sometimes carried more, sometimes less water. Satellite photography has shown that the Ghaggar-Hakra was a large river that dried up several times. The latter point agrees with a recent isotope study.
According to M. R. Mughal, the Hakkra dried-up at the latest in 1900 BCE, but other scholars conclude that it took place much earlier.
Henri-Paul Francfort, utilizing images from the French satellite SPOT 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.
Paleobotanical information documents the aridity that developed after the drying up of the river. 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.
Painted Grey Ware sites (ca. 1000 – 600 BCE BCE) have been found at former Indus valley Civilization-sites at the middle and upper Ghaggar-Hakra channel, and have also been found in the bed and not on the banks of the Ghaggar-Hakra river, which suggests that river was certainly dried up by this period. The sparse distribution of the Painted Gray Ware sites in the Ghaggar river valley indicates that during this period the Ghaggar river had already dried up.
Was River Flowing Through Harappa the Saraswati? Search Brings Scientists to Shocking Evidence.
A study scrutinised the dynamics of the Harappan civilisation and found that timing of the rejuvenated perennial phase of the Ghaggar ‘coincides with that of the flourishing of the Pre-Harappan and Early Harappan cultures along its banks.’
With “unequivocal evidence” that the Ghaggar river, where the early Harappans built their settlements, was perennial, a recent study has argued that this is the river that later came to be known as Saraswati.
The hypothesis that modern-day Ghaggar-Hakra river system, which flows intermittently between India and Pakistan, could be the river Saraswati that finds mention in the Rig Veda has been reiterated several times since the 19th century. However, with no proof of the river’s uninterrupted flow during the zenith of the civilisation, it had been argued that the Harappans depended on monsoonal rains.
In the study, published in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’ on November 20, scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and the Department of Earth Sciences, IIT Bombay presented what they called was “unequivocal evidence for the Ghaggar’s perennial past by studying temporal changes of sediment provenance along a 300 km stretch of the river basin”. ‘
They argued that “this revived perennial condition of the Ghaggar, which can be correlated with the Saraswati, likely facilitated development of the early Harappan settlements along its banks.”
The study argues that “Harappans built their early settlements along a stronger phase of the river Ghaggar”, during a period 9,000 to 4,500 years ago, “which would later be known as the Saraswati”, but “by the time the civilisation matured, the river had already lost its glacial connection.”
The study notes that while the eventual decline of the civilisation at the Ghaggar-Saraswati valley postdates “the exceptional changes to the flow of the river”, “a stronger perennial phase appears to have helped the early societies sow the seeds of the earliest known civilisation of the Indian subcontinent.”
The presence of a large number of Harappan settlements along the banks of the modern-day Ghaggar Hakra stream, which had remained monsoon-fed for most of its history, has baffled archaeologists since the 1950s.
The authors noted that the observation that Harappans in the Ghaggar valley made little effort to harvest rainwater, unlike their counterparts in the semi-arid Saurashtra and Rann of Kachchh regions” in spite of a weakening monsoon raised serious doubt about the conclusion that the Ghaggar had seasonal water supply.
The researchers noted that two of its largest cities, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, along with smaller settlements were built along mighty and frequently flooding Indus and Ravi, respectively.
In spite of evidence of an increase in localised rainfall for a few centuries, during the urbanisation of the period, the study notes,
The important question that needs to be asked is: what made the early settlers build their cities along a supposedly dying river instead of the well-watered plains of neighbouring perennial Himalayan rivers.
The researchers studied the temporal changes in the origin of the sediment along the 300 kilometer stretch of the river basin and established that 80,000 to 20,000 years ago, the river was receiving sediments from the Higher Himalayas and 9,000 to 4,500 years ago, from the Lesser Himalayas. “The latter phase can be attributed to the reactivation of the river by the distributaries of the Sutlej.
The study scrutinised the dynamics of the Harappan civilisation and found that timing of the rejuvenated perennial phase of the Ghaggar, which was between 9,000 to 4,500 years ago, coincides with that of the flourishing of the Pre-Harappan and Early Harappan cultures along its banks.
Towards the end of the Mature Harappan phase (4.6-3.9 ka), there is a clear evidence of human migrations to the lower and upper reaches of the river, leaving the middle part sparsely populated…which could be attributed to the disorganisation of the river as established in this work,” it said, while adding that the lower reachers of the river “possibly remained perennial, through a connection from the Sutlej, supporting mature and post-urban Harappan settlements.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth