Bhageerath – the First Hydro- Engineer

image By Wayam Magazine 15 September 2023

The Hindu mythology says King Bhageerath brought the river Ganga to earth from heaven. Today I will tell you how it happened. This is a story that happened a long, long time ago. It was 5,000 years before we started even counting eras. 

King Sagar was ruling the prosperous kingdom of Kosal. It was located at the foothills of the Himalayas. But it so happened that once unfortunately there was a severe drought in the kingdom. As you know water is life. It is a basic necessity of any living being. The kind-hearted King Sagar was concerned about the people. So, he handed over his throne to his son and devoted his life to research in diverting rivers towards all the concerned regions. At that time Ganga was flowing from the Himalayas towards (today’s) Tibet.  After Sagar, his great-grandson King Bhageerath thought of diverting the river Ganga towards their kingdom.  

The river flow was to be brought through other kingdoms. They even had an acute water problem. So he convinced other kings of diverting the river flow. They were convinced about the project and supplied the manpower also. It was a great challenge. The force of flow was so powerful that while executing this work, a small mistake would have wiped out many miles of the region underwater. King Bhageerath made accurate plans. 

First, he planned the proper route for the diversion. He dug parallel canals at particular distances to channelise the water-force. He got guidance from Rushi Janhu, who was a water science expert. They could get large manpower from the neighboring kings for diverting the Ganga southward. Bhageerath turned the river northward in between. So the soil all over became fertile. Then he channeled the part of the water force into 2 rivers. It helped to control flooding in the rainy season. It set an ideal example of flood control. Then finally the huge river Ganga was diverted toward the Bay of Bengal. 

The job was done with meticulous planning and execution. Bhageerath has set an example to the engineers of today. He discovered effective ways of irrigation and conservation of water.  Just imagine, the work was done without the help of any machines! In those days nobody even knew about water irrigation or conservation! So King Bhageerath was the first hydro-engineer. He was a genius. 

He could succeed because of his incomparable leadership, brilliant engineering skills, and devotion towards the work. So then on, whenever a person tries his best to achieve something for society, it is said that he is making efforts like King Bhageerath. In History, we see many examples of diverting water flow to provide water wherever needed. But we must remember that Bhageerath was the pioneer of them all. We are grateful to him for bestowing our motherland with flora and fauna.

- Jaymati Dalvi


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