Hindustan Times (Delhi)

Team at work to revive the mythical Saraswati


help in the project.

The plan is to divert a portion of water from the Yamuna and Ghaggar rivers and the defunct Dadupur Nalvi canal to feed the Saraswati. The government believes the modern-day Saraswati will improve the state’s water reserve and promote religious tourism.

The major challenge will be to acquire land for a 7km stretch of the river covering eight villages in Yamunanaga­r. The Saraswati is not mentioned in the land revenue records, which dates back to the colonial period, for these villages.

Farmers in Sabilpur village recently protested against the government as they are reluctant to part with their land. “They conducted a fresh survey in our village as they require about 1km of land. They have to pay the farmers in accordance with their demand,” said Naresh Kumar, the headman of Mohri village. Some believe the river never existed. American geologist Liviu Giosan of the Woods Hole Oceanograp­hic Institutio­n (WHOI) said in a study that the Harappan heartland showed signs that only monsoon-fed rivers were active during the Holocene, the era since the end of last Ice Age about 11,000 years ago. This contradict­ed views that a large glacier-fed Himalayan river, identified by some as the mythical Saraswati, watered the civilisati­on that flourished in the area.

But BB Lal, a former director general of the Archaeolog­ical Survey of India (ASI), believes the Saraswati was the Ghajjar-hakra river, Ghaggar in India and Hakra in Pakistan, that passed through Haryana.

The Saraswati’s flow got cut off from the Himalayan glacier about 2000 BCE because of tectonic factors, but its traces can be seen in the trickle that flows from Adi Badri, he said.

According to the state’s Congress legislatur­e party leader and former tourism minister, Kiran Choudhry, a major revival of Adi Badri was initiated on her watch. “But the BJP government is mixing religion with politics, which is not done,” she said.

The opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), too, accused the BJP of doing river politics. Party spokespers­on Praveen Atri, who is from Pehowa in Kurukshetr­a district, said members of his family have been priests at a Saraswati temple for generation­s. “The holy river existed and still exists.”

The project’s main driving force is faith — evident from the incantatio­n of Vedic hymns and sound of bells and cymbals at the temples already in existence along the river’s hidden course and the makeshift shrines that have sprung up in recent times.

The road to Mugalwali and Adi Badri was buffeted by acres of crops, trees and stark landscape. But not anymore. Heavy road-building vehicles and men are working tirelessly to repair and widen the road. Dhabas and shops have sprung up on its flanks.

Saffron-clad sadhus and pilgrims are trekking to Adi Badri already.

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