A Karnali portrait

The Karnali River is older than the Himalaya, having cut its path over millions of years as the mountains rose. This phenomenon has created many wild and scenic gorges with rich biodiversity along Nepal’s longest river. In Nepal, the Karnali is still largely untouched by the development. But roads and hydropower plants are being built. At present, two dams in China upstream and one barrage downstream in India disturb its flow. 

This is the last of a five part series on The Karnali

Read also: The Karnali, Ramesh Bhushal

Mapcha Khambab River in Tibet, China. Mapcha Khambab means peacock’s mouth in Tibetan and is named after a spring which is the spiritual source of the river. The river becomes the Karnali in Nepal and the Ghaghara in India. Photo: NABIN BARAL
Karnali River as seen in Yangar village in Humla. Photo: NABIN BARAL
Karnali River in Humla, the only district in Nepal yet to be connected with a road. Photo: NABIN BARAL
At the altitude of 1,500m the river surprises with alpine forests and palm trees growing together on the river banks in Humla. Photo: NABIN BARAL
A long exposure view of Karnali River below Shreenagar village in Humla. Photo: NABIN BARAL
Rice terraces on the flood plain of Karnali River below Shreenagar village. Photo: NABIN BARAL
The first scientific expedition team on the Karnali River raft God's House rapids, one of the world class rapid in the world on Karnali River on the border of Achham and Surkhet districts of Nepal. Photo: NABIN BARAL
The scientific expedition team camps by the side of Karnali River in Kailali district of Nepal. Photo: NABIN BARAL
An old castle like structure carved into the rock along the Karnali River in Surkhet district of Nepal. Photo: NABIN BARAL
Two one horned Rhinos are seen in Bardia National Park. The flood plains of the Karnali River are the source of water for endangered tigers and rhinos. The 968 square kilometres large park is the largest and the least disturbed national park in Nepal. Photo: NABIN BARAL
The Karnali/Ghaghara River, few meters before meeting the Ganga River in India, and about 100 kilometers northwest of Patna. From India the Ganga then enters Bangladesh where it meets the Brahmaputra. Both rivers then reach the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean. Photo: NABIN BARAL

Part 1: Faith to reality

Part 2: Dams and dreams a journey down the Karnali

Part 3: Climate denial in the Himalaya

Part 4: Dancing with the river