The Bagmati River (Nepal Bhasa:बागमती खुसी, Nepali: बागमती नदी) is a river of Nepal. It flows through the Kathmandu valley and separates Kathmandu from Lalitpur. It is considered a holy river by Hindus and Buddhists. A number of Hindu temples are located on its banks. The importance of Bagmati also lies in the fact that Hindus are cremated on the banks of this holy river, and Kirants are buried in the hills by its side.
According to the Nepalese Hindu tradition, the dead body must be dipped three times into the Bagmati River before cremation. The chief mourner (usually the first son) who lights the funeral pyre must take a holy river-water bath immediately after cremation. Many relatives who join the funeral procession also take a bath in the Bagmati River or sprinkle the holy water on their bodies at the end of cremation. The Bagmati River purifies the people spiritually.
The Bagmati River is considered the source of Nepalese civilization and urbanization. The river has been mentioned as Vaggumuda (वग्गुमुदा) in Vinaya Pitaka and Nandabagga. It has also been mentioned as Bahumati (बाहुमति) in Battha Suttanta of Majjhima Nikaya. An inscription dated 477 AD describes the river as Bagvati parpradeshe (वाग्वति पारप्रदेशे) and subsequently in Gopalraj Vanshavali.
The Bagmati originates where three headwater streams converge at Bāghdwār (Nepali: बाघ bāgh = tiger; द्वार dwār = gate) above the southern edge of the Shivapuri Hills about 15 kilometres (9 mi) northeast of Kathmandu. Here the Bagmati is wide and swift with a high load of suspended solids, giving it a grey appearance. The river flows southwest about 10 km through terraced rice fields in the Kathmandu Valley.
Resistant rock strata interrupt the flow in places, including at Pashupatinath Temple. Beyond the temple, the river flows south until joined by the larger west-flowing Monahara River, then turns west itself. After entering Kathmandu's urban area more tributaries enter: relatively unpolluted Dhobī Kholā and sewage-laden Tukucha Khola.
Then the river bends south and the Vishnumati enters from the right at Teku Dovan. The Vishnumati also rises in the Shivapuri Hills, some 6 kilometres (4 mi) west of the Bagmati's source. It flows south past Nagarjun Hill and Forest Reserve, Swayambhu Stupa and Durbar Square in Kathmandu. As it passes the centre of Kathmandu, this tributary becomes heavily polluted and choked with trash.
The Chobar gorge cuts through the Mahabharat Range, also called the Lesser Himalaya. This 2,000-to-3,000-metre (6,600 to 9,800 ft) range is the southern limit of the "middle hills" across Nepal, an important cultural boundary between distinctive Nepali and more Indian cultures and languages, as well as a major geological feature.
In Kathmandu, the Bagmati River is a very pretty river, at its origin, but it gains large amounts of untreated sewage, and large levels of pollution of the river exist due primarily to the region's large population. Many residents in Kathmandu empty personal garbage and waste into the river. In particular the Hanumante khola, Dhobi khola, Tukucha khola and Bishnumati khola are the most polluted. Attempts are being made to monitor the Bagmati River system and restore its cleanliness.
These include "pollution loads modification, flow augmentation and placement of weirs at critical locations". The Friends of the Bagmati is an organisation set up in November 2000. According to its website, its aim is "to reverse the degradation of the Bagmati river." In 2014, Bagmati River is claimed to be almost pure after a long effort of 14 years. Every Saturday, Gurkha Army, Nepal Police and General Public gather to clean the waste and sewage from the river.
The Temple of Pashupatinath, dedicated to Shiva, stands on an outcrop above the river north of Kathmandu. It is considered to be one of the holy places of Hinduism. Before the Pashupatinath the river flows Gokarneswor Temple at Gokarna, located at the north of the Kathmandu Valley. This is, too, a holy temple where the people of Kathmandu valley go for worshipping for the eternal peace of Father viz at "Kushi Aausi".