Historical Evidences in the Identification of Palaeochannels of Damodar River in Western Ganga-Brahmaputra Delta

  • Prasanta Kumar GhoshEmail author
  • Narayan Chandra Jana
Part of the Geography of the Physical Environment book series (GEOPHY)


To understand palaeo-climatic conditions and also tectonic activities of the past, it is necessary to identify the probable ancient tracks of a river. Among many approaches, at the primary level, the written evidences like old literatures may be used as basic tools for palaeochannel identification and mapping. India being rich in religious texts and literatures, offers a vast scope for the study of historical geography as well as palaeo-geography. Keeping in view the above concept, we have tried to identify and mapping the palaeochannels of Damodar fan delta of West Bengal with the help of medieval Mangal-kavya. In the poems of Ketakadasa Kshemananda’s Manasamangal-kavya of seventeenth century, Damodar River took an important place and it is the main cause of our selection of it for our present study. In Manasamangal-kavya, many settlements have been mentioned which helps to identify the locations of palaeochannels. Result shows that below Barddhaman (West Bengal), the Damodar River or its deltaic distributaries was flowing east to meet the Bhagirathi River during seventeenth century. We also get positive result when we tried to calibrate the information with other old maps.


Palaeochannel Historical geography Palaeo-geography Damodar river Damodar fan delta 



The authors are sincerely grateful to Central library and Department of Geography of The University of Burdwan, for providing the necessary supports to do this work. Thanks are accorded to Dr. Arijit Majumder and Sujay Bandyopadhyay for their continuous assistance and suggestion.


  1. Acharyya SK, Shah BA (2007) Arsenic-contaminated groundwater from parts of Damodar fan-delta and west of Bhagirathi River, West Bengal, India: influence of fluvial geomorphology and quaternary morphostratigraphy. Environ Geol 52:489–501. Scholar
  2. Ali SM (1966) The geography of the puranas. People’s Publishing House, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  3. Bandyopadhyay S (1996) Location of the Adi Ganga palaeochannel, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal: a review. Geogr Rev India 58(2):93–109Google Scholar
  4. Bates RL, Jackson JA (eds) (1980) Glossary of geology. American Geological Institute, Falls ChurchGoogle Scholar
  5. Bhadra BK, Gupta AK, Sharma JR (2009) Saraswati Nadi in Haryana and its linkage with the Vedic Saraswati River – integrated study based on satellite images and ground based information. J Geol Soc India 73:273–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bhattacharya B (ed) (1987) Manasa Mangal of Ketakadasa Kshemananda. Sahitya Akademi (Bengali), New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  7. Bhattacharyya A (1975) History of the Bengali Mangalkavyas, 6th edn. A Mukherji and Co. Pvt. Ltd., CalcuttaGoogle Scholar
  8. Bhattacharyya K (2011) The lower Damodar River, India: understanding the human role in changing fluvial environment. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Charlton R (2008) Fundamentals of fluvial geomorphology. Routledge Publication, New York, p 136Google Scholar
  10. Dasgupta S, Pande P, Ganguly D, Iqbal Z, Sanyal K, Venkatraman NV, Sural B, Harendranath L, Mazumdar K, Sanyal S, Roy A, Das LK, Misra PS, Gupta H (2000) Seismotectonic atlas of India and its environs. In: Narula PL, Acharyya SK, Banerjee J (eds) Geological Survey of India, Special Publication No. 59, Sheet 24: Chotonagpur Gneissic Terrain, Rajmahal Basin and Bengal BasinGoogle Scholar
  11. Deshmukh DS (1973) Geology and groundwater resources of the alluvial area of West Bengal. Bull Geol Surv India 34B:451Google Scholar
  12. Deshmukh DS, Prasad KN, Niyogi BN, Biswas AB, Guha SK, Seth NN, Sinha BPC, Rao GN (1973) Geology and groundwater resources of alluvial areas of West Bengal. Bull Geol Surv India Ser B 34:1–451Google Scholar
  13. Ghosh S, Mistri B (2012) Reconstructing the phases of channel shifting through identification of palaeochannels and historical accounts of extreme floods of Damodar River in West Bengal. Indian J Geomorphol 17(2):65–80. ISSN: 0973-2411Google Scholar
  14. Goudie AS (ed) (2004) Encyclopedia of geomorphology, vol 2. Routledge Publication, New York, pp 743–744Google Scholar
  15. Gupta RK (ed) (1970) Padma Puran or Mansa Mangal of Bijoy Gupta. Rajendra Library, CalcuttaGoogle Scholar
  16. Gupta AK, Sharma JR, Sreenivasan G (2011) Using satellite imagery to reveal the course of an extinct river below the Thar Desert in the Indo-Pak region. Int J Remote Sens 32(18):5197–5216. Scholar
  17. Howard AD (1967) Drainage analysis in geologic interpretation: a summation. Am Assoc Petrol Geol Bull 51:2246–2259Google Scholar
  18. Jarvis A, Reuter HI, Nelson A, Guevara E (2008) Hole-filled seamless SRTM data V4, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)Google Scholar
  19. Kale VS (2003) Geomorphic effects of monsoon floods on Indian rivers. Nat Hazards 28:65–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kalyanaraman S (1997) Sarasvati River (circa 3000–1500 B.C.). Sarasvati Sindhu Research Centre, 19 Temple Avenue, Chennai 600015. Available in
  21. Knighton D (1984) Fluvial forms and processes. Edward Arnold (Publisher) Ltd. London. ISBN 0-7131-6405-0 Google Scholar
  22. Krishnan MS (1968) Geology of India and Burma, 5th edn. Higginbothems PublicationGoogle Scholar
  23. Kumar V (2011) Palaeo-Channel. Encyclopedia of Snow, Ice and Glacier. In: Singh VP, Singh P & Haritashya UK (eds) Springer, Dordrecht: The Netherlands, p. 803, ISBN: 978-90-481-2641-5Google Scholar
  24. Majumder A (2013) Ground water budgeting and its management in Pundua block of Hugli district, West Bengal, unpublished Ph.D. thesis. Department of Geography, The University of BurdwanGoogle Scholar
  25. Mallick S, Niyogi D (1972) Application of geomorphology in groundwater prospecting in the alluvial plains around Burdwan, West Bengal. Indian Geohydrol 8:86–98Google Scholar
  26. Mukherjee A (2001) Rigvedic Sarasvati: myth and reality. Breakthrough 9, No. 1Google Scholar
  27. Murthy SRN (1980) The Vedic River Saraswati, a myth or fact – a geological approach. Indian J Hist Sci 15(2):189–192Google Scholar
  28. Nandini CV, Sanjeevi S, Bhaskar AS (2013) An integrated approach to map certain palaeochannels of South India using remote sensing, geophysics, and sedimentological techniques. Int J Remote Sens 34(19):6507–6528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Niyogi D (1975) Quaternary geology of the coastal plain in West Bengal. Indian J Earth Sci 2:51–61Google Scholar
  30. Oldham RD (1886) On probable changes in the geography of the Punjab and its rivers. Asiatic Soc Bengal. 55:322–343Google Scholar
  31. Pal T, Mukherjee PK (2010) Search for groundwater arsenic in Pleistocene sequence of the Damodar River flood plain, West Bengal. Indian J Geosci 64(1–4):109–112Google Scholar
  32. Pramanik SK, Rao KN (1952) Hydrometeorology of the Damodar catchment,  Ind Met Dep Mem. 29(4):429–431Google Scholar
  33. Ramasamy SM (2005) Remote sensing of river migration in Tamilnadu. In: Ramasamy SM (ed) Remote sensing in geomorphology. Published by New India Publishing Agency, New Delhi. ISBN 81-89422-05-7Google Scholar
  34. Roy BC, Banerjee K (1990) Quaternary geological and geomorphological mapping in parts of Bardhaman and Bankura districts and preliminary assessment of sand deposits suitable for construction and other allied purposes. Progress report for the field season 1988–89. Geological survey of IndiaGoogle Scholar
  35. Shukla RK (2013) Ramayana: a study in ancient Indian geography. An unpublished Ph.D. thesis submitted to Bundelkhand University, Jhansi, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  36. Singh LP, Parkash B, Singhvi AK (1998) Evolution of the lower Gangetic plain landforms and soils in West Bengal, India. Catena 33:75–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Singhvi AK, Kar A (1992) Thar Desert in Rajasthan. Geological Society of India, Bangalore, p 191Google Scholar
  38. Sinha R, Yadav GS, Gupta S, Singh A, Lahiri SK (2012) Geo-electric resistivity evidence for subsurface palaeochannel systems adjacent to Harappan sites in northwest India; Quaternary International, CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tamaskar BG (1989) Geographical knowledge in Upanisads. Indus Publishing Company, New Delhi. ISBN 81-85182-29-9Google Scholar
  40. Tripathi JK, Bock B, Rajamani V, Eisenhauer A (2004) Is River Ghaggar, Saraswati? Geochemical constraints. Curr Sci 87(8):1141–1145Google Scholar
  41. Valdiya KS (1996) River piracy: Saraswati that disappeared. Resonance 19–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Valdiya KS (2013) The River Saraswati was a Himalayan-born river. Curr Sci 104(1):42–54Google Scholar
  43. Valdiya KS (2017) Prehistoric River Saraswati, Western India: geological appraisal and social aspects, Society of Earth Scientists series. Springer International Publishing AG, Switzerland. ISBN 978-3-319-44223-5, ISBN 978-3-319-44224-2 (eBook)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Willcocks W (2001) Ancient system of irrigation in Bengal in ‘Rivers of Bengal’, vol 1Google Scholar
  45. Yashpal, Sahai B, Sood RK, Agrawal DP (1980) Remote sensing of the ‘lost’ Saraswati’ River. Proc Indian Acad Sci (Earth Planet Sci) 89:317–331Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyThe University of BurdwanBurdwanIndia

Personalised recommendations