Punpun, Falgu, Kiul and other rivers of South Bihar in 1810 AD

The Punpun- its course about 200 years ago
In 1810-11 AD, the number of canals of Punpun were of great use for irrigation. For this purpose some of its tributary

Survey of Rivers of Bihar in 1810-11

Francis Buchanan surveyed the courses of the rivers of Bihar along with their tributaries and branches in 1810-11 AD and presented a minute account of it.
Bihar has many rivers and innumerable rivulets. They are shifting their courses .The shifting of the courses and bed over the centuries is very remarkable. Many of the channels mentioned in that survey have become dead and dry even extinct. This account of the courses of the rivers of Bihar in about 200 years ago, is very important and interesting for making the comparison with their present courses. 

At present, the ecological unbalance and many other factors are contributing to the great losses to ecology of Bihar and its negativity is resulted in forms of massive flood,soil-erosion etc. These statements of the old courses of the rivers of Bihar may be relevant and interesting in finding solutions to the above environmental issues.
streams appeared since the time of 
 Major Rennell`s survey had been entirely diverted from its channel, and had been so much subdivided among the fields, that they could no longer be traced to a junction. In the driest part of the year it contained a stream to its very junction with the Ganga, but it was of very little use in navigation. Small boats could occasionally go up in the rainy season..

The Punpun just after intering Bihar was receiving a torrent named Adri. Some miles below this it received from the same direction a river named Madar
In February, 1811 AD, the Punpun, a little below the junction of the Madar, had a channel about 100 yards wide. It contained a fine clear stream, perhaps 30 yards wide and knee deep. A little lower down the Punpun received a rivulet which passed Goh was Bilaro.Major Rennell gives it a long course from Ramgar, but in 1811 AD, it was only traceble from Angti , its course having been probably interrupted by canals for irrigation.

Between Tikari and this channel at Goh there were two fine rivulets, that to the west was called Nera and to the east named Sinane. In February,2011 both contained fine streams of water, with which they supply the adjacent fields.
From the mouth of the Bilaro the Punpun had downwards a very long course without receiving any addition, or without sending off any branch, canals for irrigation excepted ; and thus passed through of Daudnagar, Arwal, Jahanabad and Bikram. On Noubatpur, it was sending to the west a small channel named the Pangchhara. In November1810,  the Punpun  was about 150 yards wide and was then half covered with a dirty stream about two feet deep.

From entering the district of then Bihar, until the reunion of the Pangchhara, the general course of the Punpun was about north east; but at the junction it was running nearly east, and was running in that direction about 18 miles, until it joined the Ganga at Fatuha. About midway, it was receiving from the north a considerable branch named the Murahar . The stream was not larger, but was then beautifully clear, and contained many small fishes, for it never became dry. At Fatuha, where the Punpun entered the Ganga, it had very high, steep banks (30 feet perpendicular), and the entrance was 100 yards wide.

The Falgu- its course about 200 years ago


Gaya from the east, across the river Falgu, a village scene in the foreground. Pen and ink drawing by Welby Brown Jackson in 1830

River Falgu had numerous branches intersecting in Gaya district, but its nomenclature was confused. It was formed a few miles above Gaya by the union of two immense torrents, named the Mohane and Nilajan

The former, although the least celebrated and the smallest of the two, was the main source of the river, because the lower part of the channel towards the Ganga was called by its name. Some way below, at a place considered holy, it changd its name for a short space, and was called the Saraswati.The other branch ,Falgu was  a sandy channel about 400 yards wide, but its stream in December,1810 was not so considerable as that of the Mohane. Opposite to Bodhgaya, this river was separated by a sandy channel into two arms. The western was named Kanaksar; the eastern and largest arm was called Nilajan .Both in December,1810 contained streams, but very trifling. 

The Falgu, formed by the union of these torrents, was soon reaching the high and rocky shores of Gaya, where, when free of islands, it was 500 yards wide. In the beginning of January1811, water stood on many parts of the surface.From Gaya , the Falgu was running north-easterly with little change for about 17 miles, when opposite to the Barabar hills, it was divided into two branches, and the name of Falgu was entirely lost.

The westernmost of the branches, into which the Falgu was divided, was named the Soonr. From the place of separation it run some way west to the rocks of Barabar, where it received a small muddy channel named the Bhurbhuri. The Soonr. then turned south, and in February,1811 the channel, was perhaps 250 yards wide, had a small stream of clear water, which was fed from springs issuing below the separation, as both the Falgu and Mohane were then quite dry.

The eastern branch of the Falgu, which resumed the name Mohane, was a sandy channel about 400 yards wide and  in February1811, had no water on the surface. A little way below the fork the Mohane was divided into two arms, which enclosed an island about 20 miles long. The western arm, which retained the name Mohane, was passing Hulasganj, and some way below that , was sending off to the west the canal named Mansinghi. Above this, its course was nearly north; but where the Mansinghi separated, it turn to the north-east, and soon after it  passed Islamnagar, where its channel was about 100 yards wide,  contained a stream under ground and small streams for the irrigation of the fields. 

Near Islamnagar, the Mohane was sending to the north the channel named Nanayang, which received the Soonr, about 13 miles after its separation from the Mohane, and after a course of six miles farther north was falling into the branch of the Punpun called Dhoya. In this space the Nanayang communicated by a short channel with a small drain named the Chiriwang, which run parallel to it on the east, and after a course of about 10 miles joins the Dhoya about a mile below the Nanayang. The Nanayang, when crossed in the end of January was a small sandy channel quite dry.
The east arm of the Mohane was Jalawar, and was a sandy channel about 100 yards wide. A little above, where the Jalawar was rejoining the Mohane, it received from the south a river of very considerable length named the Pengwar. In November, 1810,  it was a small channel in a deep stiff clay, but containing a fine stream of water. 

A little below, it received a stream similar to itself named the Bansi.Soon after receiving the Bansi the Pengwar passed through a chain of low rocky hills, which in December,1810 was a considerably rapid but dirty stream, passing through a narrow rocky channel. The Pengwar then was passing by Narawat, at the north-west corner of the Raja Griha hills.

The Falgu, after the junction of the Mohane and Nilajan, was a great channel, from 500 to 800 yards wide, and, although after heavy rains this immense extent was often filled with water, rushing past Gaya with tremendous noise and velocity. 
Travelers on the road approach the sacred city of Gaya, the river Falgu in the distance, Artist: Jackson, Welby Brown (1830 AD)

              The Kiul,Chanan,Anjana and their tributaries- its course about 200 years ago

River Kiul was coming  as a considerable channel from Kharakdiha, and was leaving the old castle of Gidhaur at some distance from its western bank. It was receiving, nearly opposite to that fortress, a river called Maura. The Maura was rising by two sources from a chain of hills, which run parallel to Malleypur.                                                                                                                   The united streams of the Maura and Kiul formed a channel, not less than 400 yards broad; but in March, 1810 , there was no stream, and only a very little stagnant water in a few pools, at great distances from each other and of inconsiderable size. 

About two miles below the mouth of the Maura the Kiul received , from the East, a fine river named the Ulayi,. This river was said to run through a narrow passage called Kewalghat, and then over a rock of white marble, near Malleypur. About 10 miles below Ghoramara the Ulayi received the Nagini, a torrent of short course, which contained a pretty stream, and was coming from the hills towards the east. 

The Sacred Anjana River and the disappeared lake

The Kiul was joined by the Anjana, the nymph of which, having being impregnated by Pavan, the god of storms produced Hanuman . The river had its source in hot springs, about 12 miles in a direct line south-west from Mallepoor, near which the Anjana join the Kiul. Another river, Nakti was composed of two rivers, the Kathra and Mata.
In the Bengal atlas south and west from Munger was placed a large lake, sending two small channels to the Ganga. The lake was totally disappeared in 1810 AD , its situation in spring being covered with one continued sheet of wheat and barley; but the two channels remained. They were both of considerable size; but in the dry season contained only a few stagnant pools.
The Chandan(Present Chanan), from the town of Chanan to Jamdaha, passed through a most beautiful country, the banks on both sides being cultivated and finely planted. At Jamdaha it was 150 yards wide, and at all seasons contained a stream.

From Jamdaha to Jathaurnath, where the Chandan was leaving the hilly country, the fertility of its banks was by no means diminished. At Banka its channel was between 4 and 500 yards wide; but even in November its stream was small, and in spring its surface become entirely dry. A little below Banka the Chandan admitted on its left the Indrani, a fine river, which. It was rising about 15 or 16 miles south-west from its mouth, and soon after it was receiving an addition from Kasmau.

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