Thursday, January 29, 2009

National parks & fauna

National parks and fauna

There are two famous national parks in the Koshi river basin: the Sagarmatha National Park, located in eastern Nepal, containing parts of the Himalayas and the southern half of Mount Everest and the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve situated on the flood plains of the Sapta-Koshi River in Eastern Nepal.

Sagarmatha National park

Sagarmatha National park is located in eastern Nepal, including parts of the Himalayas and the southern half of Mount Everest. The park, which is also included as a UNESCO world heritage site, was created on 19 July 1976. Sagarmatha in Sanskrit means "Forhead of Universe" (Sagar: Sky or Heavens; Matha: Forhead) and is the modern Nepali name for Mount Everest. The park covers an area of 1,148 km2 (443 sq mi) and ranges in elevation from its lowest point of 2,845 m (9,330 ft) at Jorsalle to 8,848 m (29,030 ft) at the summit of Mount Everest (highest peak in the world). Other peaks above 6,000 m (20,000 ft) are Lhotse, Cho-Oyu, Thamserku, Nuptse, Amadablam, and Pumori. The upper watershed of the Dudh Koshi river basin system lies in the park. The types of plants and animals that are found in the park depend on the altitude.
The forests provide habitat to at least 118 species of birds, including Danphe, Blood pheasant, Red-billed chough, and yellow-billed chough. Sagarmatha National Park is also home to a number of rare species, including musk deer, wild yak, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear and red panda. Moreover, many other animals such as Himalayan thars, deer, langur monkeys, hares, mountain foxes, martens, and Himalayan wolves are found in the park.
In the lower forested zone, birch, juniper, blue pines, firs, bamboo and rhododendron grow. Above this zone, all vegetation is dwarf plants or shrubs. As the altitude increases, plant life is restricted to lichens and mosses. Plants cease to grow at about 5,750 m (18,900 ft), in the permanent snowline in the Himalayas.
The park's visitor centre is located at the top of a hill in Namche Bazaar, also where a company of the Nepal Royal Army is stationed to protect the park. The park's southern entrance is a few hundred metres north of Mondzo at 2 835 m (9,300 ft), a one-day hike from Lukla.
The presence of the Sherpas, with their unique culture, adds further interest to this park.UNESCO listed the park as a World Heritage Site in 1979 for its unique natural, cultural and landscape characteristics.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Koshi-Access to the basin

Access to the basin

From Katmandu, there is a road for some distance followed by trekking paths to Mt Everest, which crosses four major tributaries of the Koshi. Namche Bazar near Tibet border in Nepal (near southern base camp of Mt Everest) is the major tourist centre in the mountainous part of the Koshi belt. Birātnagar in Nepal, and Purnia and Katihār in India are major cities on the Koshi Plains. Kamlā, Bāghmati (Kareh) and Budhi Gandak are major tributaries of Koshi in India, besides minor tributaries like Bhutahi Balān.


In Nepal the Koshi lies to the west of Kanchenjunga. It has seven major tributaries: the Sun Koshi, the Tama Koshi or Tamba Koshi, the Dudh Koshi, the Indravati, the Likhu River, the Arun and the Tamur. The Dudh Koshi joins the Sun Koshi at the Nepalese village of Harkapur. At Triveni Sun the Koshi is joined by the Arun and the Tamar, after which the river is called the Sapta Koshi. At Barāhkṣetra in Nepal, it descends from the mountains and it is then called simply the Koshi. These tributaries encircle Mt Everest from all sides and are fed by the world's highest glaciers. Further down the Triveni, the river cuts a deep gorge across the lesser Himalayan range of Mahabharat Lekh in a length of 10 km (6.2 mi) and debouches into the plains near Chatra. After flowing for another 58 km (36 mi), it enters the north Bihar plains near Bhimnagar and after another 260 km (160 mi), flows into the Ganges near Kursela(1). The river travels a distance of 729 km (453 mi) from its source to the confluence with the Ganges.
The Kosi river fan located in the northern part of India (in northeast Bihar and eastern Mithila) is one of the largest alluvial cones built by any river in the world. This 180 km (110 mi)-long and 150 km (93 mi)-wide alluvial cone shows evidence of lateral channel shifting exceeding 120 km (75 mi) during the past 250 years through more than 12 distinct channels. The river, which used to flow near Purnea in the 18th century, now flows west of Saharsa (1). The Kosi alluvial cone and its adjoining area have been studied in detail by remote sensing techniques. The data have been integrated with the available geological and geophysical information to decipher the causes responsible for the lateral shift of such a high-magnitude fan. A satellite image shows the old palaeo-channels of the Koshi river with its former (before 1731) confluence with the Mahananda River north of Lava.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Koshi River-rafting

The Kosi River
The Kosi River, called Koshi in Nepal (Nepali: कोशी नदी), is a transboundary river between Nepal and India, and is one of the largest tributaries of the Ganges. The river, along with its tributaries, drains a total area of 69,300 km2 (26,800 sq mi) up to its confluence with the Ganges in India (29,400 km2/11,400 sq mi in China, 30,700 km2/11,900 sq mi in Nepal and 9,200 km2/3,600 sq mi in India). The watershed also includes part of Tibet, such as the Mount Everest region, and the eastern third of Nepal. The river basin is surrounded by the ridges separating it from the Brahmaputra in the north, the Gandaki in the west, the Mahananda in the east, and by the Ganges in the south. The river is joined by major tributaries, approximately 48 km (30 mi) north of the Indo-Nepal border, breaking into more than twelve distinct channels with shifting courses due to flooding. Kamlā, Bāghmati (Kareh) and Budhi Gandak are major tributaries of Koshi in India, besides minor tributaries like Bhutahi Balān. Over the last 250 years, the Kosi River has shifted its course over 120 kilometres (75 mi) from east to west. and the unstable nature of the river is attributed to the heavy silt which it carries during the monsoon season. Flooding in India has extreme effects. India is second in the world after Bangladesh in deaths due to flooding, accounting for one fifth of global flooding deaths. The Kosi River (The Sorrow of Bihar) is one of two major tributaries, the other river being Gandak, draining the plains of north Bihar, the most flood-prone area of India.

Formerly Kauśiki (named after sage Viśvāmitra because Viśvāmitra is said to have attained the status of Vedic ṛṣi or Rishi on its banks; Viśvāmitra was descendant of sage Kuśika and was called Kauśika in Rgveda), in Nepal and Bihar in northern India is a major tributary of the Ganges (one major tributary of the Koshi is the Arun, a major part of whose course is in Tibet). This river is mentioned in the epic Mahabharata as Kauśiki. Seven Koshis join together to form the Saptakoshi River/Sapt Koshi which is popularly known as the Koshi.
It is also the lifeline of the Mithila region, today spread over more than half of India's state of Bihar, and parts of adjoining Nepal and it forms the basis of legend and folklore of the region; the legend of Mithila extends over many centuries. Mithila is also the name of a style of Hindu art created in the Mithila area.

Thursday, January 1, 2009



Whitewater rafting can be a dangerous sport, especially if basic safety precautions are not observed. Both commercial and private trips have seen their share of injuries and fatalities, though private travel has typically been associated with greater risk. Depending on the area, legislated safety measures may exist for rafting operators. These range from certification of outfitters, rafts, and raft leaders, to more stringent regulations about equipment and procedures. It is generally advisable to discuss safety measures with a rafting operator before signing on for a trip. The equipment used and the qualifications of the company and raft guides are essential information to be considered.
Like most outdoor sports, rafting in general has become safer over the years. Expertise in the sport has increased, and equipment has become more specialized and increased in quality. As a result the difficulty rating of most river runs has changed. A classic example would be the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, which has swallowed whole expeditions in the past, leaving only fragments of boats but is now run safely by commercial outfitters hundreds of times each year, with relatively untrained passengers.
Risks in whitewater rafting stem from both environmental dangers and from improper behavior. Certain features on rivers are inherently unsafe and have remained consistently so despite the passage of time. These would include "keeper hydraulics", "strainers" (e.g. fallen trees), dams (especially low-head dams, which tend to produce river-wide keeper hydraulics), undercut rocks, and of course dangerously high waterfalls. Rafting with experienced guides is the safest way to avoid such features. Even in safe areas, however, moving water can always present risks -- such as when a swimmer attempts to stand up on a rocky riverbed in strong current, risking foot entrapment. Irresponsible behavior related to rafting while intoxicated has also contributed to many accidents.
To combat the illusion that rafting is akin to an amusement park ride, and to underscore the personal responsibility each rafter faces on a trip, rafting outfitters generally require customers to sign waiver forms indicating understanding and acceptance of potential serious risks. Rafting trips often begin with safety presentations to educate customers about problems that may arise.
Due to this the overall risk level on a rafting trip with experienced guides using proper precautions is low. Thousands of people safely enjoy raft trips every year.

Issues with rafting

Like all wilderness sports, rafting has to balance the conflict between nature protection and nature use. Because of frequent problems in the past, some rivers now have regulations restricting or specifying the annual and daily operating times.
Conflicts have also arisen with environmentalists when rafting operators, often in co-operation with municipalities and tourism associations, alter the riverbed by dredging and/or blasting in order to eliminate safety risks or create more interesting whitewater features in the river. Incongruously these measures usually are only temporary, since a riverbed is subject to permanent changes.
On the other hand, rafting contributes to the economy of many alpine regions which in turn may contribute to the protection of rivers from hydroelectric power generation and other development. Additionally, white water rafting trips can promote environmentalism. By experiencing first hand the beauty of a given river, individuals who would otherwise be indifferent to the environmental concerns of an area may gain a strong desire to protect and preserve that area because of a positive outdoors experience.