IIT-Bombay Research Finds Evidence of River 'Saraswati'

According to new research by the Physical Research Laboratory in collaboration with IIT-Bombay has reported ‘unequivocal evidence’ of existence a perennial river ‘Saraswati’ on the plains of northwestern India which researchers find mentions in the ancient texts of Rig Veda. 

Crux of the Matter
  • The research has been published in the journal ‘Scientific Report’ of Nature Publishers which is in the public domain. 
  • According to the researchers, the river a flowed roughly along the course of the modern Ghaggar.
  • The scientists behind the study were Anirban Chatterjee, J S Ray and Anil Shukla of PRL, and Kanchan Pande from IIT-Bombay.
  • The research studied the temporal changes of sediment provenance along a 300 km stretch of the Ghaggar river basin using different dating methods.
  • The researchers provide evidence for the river Saraswati being perennial and its flow from the Higher Himalayas between 7,000 BC and 2,500 BC along which the Harappans had built their early settlements between 3,800 BC and 1,900 BC.
  • The decline of the Saraswati due to rapid drying-up of the channels led to the collapse of the Harappan civilization.
  • Research finds Saraswati’s sources in the glaciated regions of the Higher Himalayas, similar to the Ganga, Yamuna and Sutlej which is the only likely path.
  • The ancient course of present-day Ghaggar could have been through the distributaries of the mighty Sutlej River. 
  • Jyotiranjan S. Ray, explains that ‘the uninterrupted flow of the perennial Saraswati started 80,000 years ago, and continued until 20,000 years ago. Extreme aridity of the last glacial period diminished the river, only for it to regain its strength 9,000 years ago and flow freely for the subsequent 4,500 years.’

Indus Valley Civilisation or Harappan Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was one of three early civilisations of the region comprising North Africa, West Asia and South Asia. Its sites stretched from northeast Afghanistan, through much of Pakistan, and into western and northwestern India. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan, and along with a system of perennial, mostly monsoon-fed, rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan. The civilisation’s cities were noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, and new techniques in handicraft. The large cities of Mohenjdaro and Harappa very likely grew between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals. Harappa, the first of its sites to be excavated early in the 20th century. More Info