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Sarayu River.jpg
Sarayu River at Ayodhya
Physical characteristics
 ⁃ locationHimalayas
 ⁃ elevation4,150 m (13,620 ft)
 ⁃ location
Tributary of Ganges
Length350 km (220 mi)
Basin sizeEastern Kumaon - Western Nepal

The Sarayu is a river that flows through the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. This river is of ancient significance, finding mentions in the Vedas and the Ramayana. The Sarayu river of India forms at the confluence of the Karnali (or Ghaghara) and Mahakali (or Sharda) in Bahraich District. The Mahakali or Sharda forms the western Indo-Nepal border. Ayodhya is situated on the banks of river Sarayu. Some mapmakers[1] consider the Sarayu to be just a section of the lower Ghaghara River.

On Ram Navami, the festival that celebrates the birthday of Lord Rama, thousands of people take a dip in the Sarayu River at Ayodhya.[2]


The name is the feminine derivative of the Sanskrit root सर् sar "to flow"; as a masculine stem, saráyu- means "air, wind", i.e. "that which is streaming".

Origin and course

Sarayu river at Bageshwar, Uttarakhand.

The Sarayu rises at Sarmul (or Sarmool), which is located in the extreme north of the district Bageshwar of Uttarakhand on the southern slope of a ridge of the Nanda Kot. It flows through the Kumaon himalayas, and passes by the towns of Kapkot, Bageshwar and Seraghat before flowing into the Mahakali at Pancheshwar.[3]

The Sarayu forms again at the confluence of the Karnali (or Ghaghara) and Mahakali (or Sharda) in Bahraich District at 27°40′27″N 81°16′39″E / 27.67417°N 81.27750°E / 27.67417; 81.27750. It initially flows into south western direction till it reaches Ramnagar, where it takes a turn towards the west and flows towards the towns of Faizabad and Ayodhya. It continues flowing westwards and passes through the towns of Tanda and Barhalganj before receiving the Rapti from its left at 26°16′34.05″N 83°37′49.51″E / 26.2761250°N 83.6304194°E / 26.2761250; 83.6304194. It flows into the Ganges near the town of Chhapra at 25°44′36″N 84°40′01″E / 25.74333°N 84.66694°E / 25.74333; 84.66694.



The river is mentioned three times in the Rigveda. The banks of the Sarayu are the location of the slaying of two Aryas at the hands of Indra in RV 4.30.18. It is listed together with western tributaries to the Indus: Rasā, Anitabha, Kubha, Krumu, and the Sindhu itself as obstacles crossed by the Maruts in RV 5.53.9. In this verse, Purisini appears as its epithet. At this stage of the earlier Rigveda, it apparently was a river west of the Indus system that corresponds to Iranian Harayu (Avestan acc. Harōiium, Old Persian Haraiva, modern Harē or Harī), the Hari River. It is invoked together with Sindhu and Sarasvati (two of the most prominent Rigvedic rivers) in the late hymn RV 10.64. There is no mention of the Ganga River in Rigveda[citation needed].

Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana crossing river Sarayu.

According to the regional versions of the Ramayana written in different Indian languages, especially in Ram Charit Manas by Goswami Tulsi Das 1.5.6, the Sarayu flowed beside the ancient city of Ayodhya, which is in modern day Uttar Pradesh. It is a tributary of the Ghaghara. This Sarayu played a vital role in the city and life of Ayodhya, and according to the Ram Charit Manas, Rama, the seventh Avatar of Vishnu immersed himself in the river to return to his eternal Mahavishnu form, after he retired from the throne of Kosala. His brothers Bharata and Shatrughna also joined him, as did many devout followers. The Sarayu is also the river on whose banks King Rama was born.

According to a sub-story within the Ramayana, the banks of the River Sarayu is also the place where King Dashratha accidentally killed Shravan Kumar.[citation needed]

In ancient times Aciravati was one of the tributaries of the Sarayu.[4]


While the Sarayu river plays an important role in Rigveda and Atharvaveda along with Ramayana. Ayodhya, capital of King Rama is mentioned on the banks of Sarayu river. Sarayu river is mentioned in great details in Ramayana, Ayuthya, as locally called, is the ancient capital of Shyam Desh (Thailand) and king of Thailand is still revered decedent of King Rama of Ramayana. It is a tributary of the Ganges which meets two other rivers at the confluence (sangam) in Uttar Pradesh.

Linkage with Queen of ancient Korea, Heo Hwang-ok

Heo Hwang-ok was a princess of Ayodhya, who married king Suro of Geumgwan Gaya of Korea.[5] In 2008, her memorial was built by the Korean government on the west bank of Sarayu river, and Ayodhya was declared as sister city of Incheon.[6][7]

In fiction

Sarayu is also the name of the river that flows by the fictional town of Malgudi created by the Indian writer R. K. Narayan.

Sarayu is the name given to the personification of the Holy Spirit in "The Shack" created by American Novelist William P. Young.

See also


  1. ^ "Plate 30: India, Plains : Nepal : Mt. Everest". The Times Atlas of the World (seventh ed.). Edinburgh: John Bartholomew & Sons, Ltd. and Times Books, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-8129-1298-2.
  2. ^ At Ayodhya, Ram Navami celebrated amid religious harmony Archived 7 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine Indian Express, 15 April 2008.
  3. ^ Negi, Sharad Singh. Himalayan Rivers, Lakes, and Glaciers. Indus Publishing. p. 120. ISBN 9788185182612.
  4. ^ Kapoor, Subodh. Encyclopaedia of Ancient Indian Geography. p. 5. Google books. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  5. ^ Il-yeon (tr. by Ha Tae-Hung & Grafton K. Mintz) (1972). Samguk Yusa. Seoul: Yonsei University Press. ISBN 89-7141-017-5.
  6. ^ "Korea's royal connection to Ayodhya", Sanskriti Magazine, 15 Aug 2014.
  7. ^ Koreans want to nurture Ayodhya — birthplace of their Queen Ho Archived 6 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Express India, 2008-09-01.


External links