Lost Ancient River Chandrabhaga found in Odisha

Nov 7, 2016 11:49 IST

Scientists from Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur) claimed to have found evidence confirming the existence of a mythical Indian river, Chandrabhaga.  The discovery came in the first week of November 2016.

This is the second among such findings. In October 2016, KS Valdiya led expert committee had found that Saraswati River did exist.

KS Valdiya led expert committee finds Saraswati River did exist

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About River Chandrabhaga
• The ancient river is said to have flowed about 2 kilometers away from the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha, a UNESCO world heritage site, built by King Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty in 1255 CE.  
• The river holds an important position in ancient Indian literature. Most mythical stories around Konark including pictorial presentations like palm-leaf drawings, sketches and old photographs indicate towards its presence close to the temple.
However, other than these mentions there is no visible trace of the river around the temple. Scientists decided to go by what little information they had to validate its existence.

About the Discovery
• The first step to the find was an analysis of satellite data: Scientists used images from US satellites- Landsat and Terra and from NASA Space Shuttle Endeavour’s ‘Radar Topography Mission’ in 2000.
• Satellite imagery and Google Earth image together combined showed a ‘sinusoidal’ trace, characteristic of a typical palaeochannel passing north of the Sun Temple, extending approximately parallel to the coast.

What is a palaeochannel?
• The term effectively means remains of an inactive river/ stream, which has been either filled or buried by younger sediment.
• Field analysis reveals that palaeochannel is characterized by swampy lands covered with water hyacinth plants.
• Surface profiling using ‘ground penetrating radar’ also further confirmed its existence as it showed the existence of a V-shaped subsurface river valley.
• It can be traced till Tikarpada village, near the banks of Kadua River.
• A geological map shows heavy alluvium deposit in the area- another typical characteristic of rivers.
• Several patches of water bodies have also been seen at various locations along the channel and a swampy area, believed to be a part of the ancient river has been reserved by the Odisha Government for the ritualistic holy bath during Magha Saptami.

What does this discovery mean for the state?
• Demarcation of pockets of freshwater zones within a dominantly saline water environment
• It may also lead to a rise in drinking water concern along Odisha’s coast.

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