Rivers of Nepal

Rivers of Nepal

The fastest running waters in the world providing electricity and amazing river adventure activities. Nepal is a rich nation of water.


Nepal’s most possessed natural resource is water. A land-locked country it may be, but the country is blessed by snow-capped mountains which feed Nepal land. Rivers are not only for rafters but also for businessmen. More than 80% of Nepal’s electricity is generated by rivers. Snow-capped Himalayas are the main sources of Nepali rivers. Nepal has altitude ranging from 60 meter to all the way upto 8848 meters (Mt everest), the highest altitude of the earth. Some of the fastest running rivers in the world are located here.

There are three major rivers in Nepal namely Kosi River, Gandaki River and Karnali River which lie across east to west running from north to south. Surroundings of most rivers are in their natural settings. Nepali rivers are paradise to River Rafters who just can’t have enough of angry and mad rivers. Need we mention Himalayan Water? It’s all here in this beautiful country. No matter how many rivers you have rafted here, there is always a river waiting to be explored.

Map of Rivers

Map of Rivers in Nepal


Quick Facts on Rivers and Relevant

  • Nepal is a mine of water. In Nepali “Nepal Pani Ko Khani Ho”, this statement is taken literally. (Translation : Pani – water, Khani – Mine), This is a very popular phrase used and honored by Nepalese everyday. Nepal is a rich country of water.
  • Nepal’s Total Area is 147,181 sq km of which land is 143,181 sq km and water is 4,000 sq km – source CIA the World Fact Book. So 3% of Nepal is water which includes rivers, lakes, and ponds
  • Arun River of Nepal shares the name of Arun River of United Kingdom, isn’t that interesting ?
  • Karnali is Nepal’s largest and longest River.
  • Nepal is a mountainous country, most of its rivers have mountains as the source.
  • Nepal is prone to natural disasters like floods and land and slides. Major Rivers continue to shift their path and go deeper.
  • World’s 39th longest River Ganges starts from the Himalayas of Nepal. The river is 2510 K.M
  • Nepal’s about 70% of the population is in Rural Areas. Less than 20% of Rural people have access to Electricity.
  • 80% of Nepalese depend on Agriculture. Rivers are a good source to Agriculture business.
  • More than 220 billions cubic meters of water run through Nepal every year.
  • 8 of the 10 snow-capped and highest mountains in the world are located in Nepal. Nepal Himalaya is the source of most rivers of Nepal
  • The largest river in the world is Nile River which is 6516 Kms
  • All major rivers start from Tibet, transverse through Nepal, then join Ganga River of India before finally meeting the heavenly sea.
  • Of all the rivers in the world having more than 600 miles (965.60 km) in length, 90% are located in the United Sates of America
  • Water is the #1 natural resources of Nepal. The others are quartz, timber, hydro power, lignite, copper and cobalt.

List of Major Rivers (this table is being populated, so please check-back later for more data here…)

Name of River River Length (Runoff) River Originating Location / Altitude Remarks
Arun River Nepal L A tribe indigenous to northeastern Nepal, living west of the Arun River in the area drained by the Sun Kosi River.
Bagmati River L A Remarks
Dudh Kosi River L A Remarks
Kali Gangaki River Length (Miles / Kilometers) Highest Point (Feet / Meters) Remarks / Notes
Kankai Mai River L A Remarks
Karnali River Length (Miles / Kilometers) Highest Point (Feet / Meters) The biggest and the largest river of Nepal which provides tons of rapids for river-rafters and awesome side-trip for eco-tourists
Kulekhani River L A Remarks
Lothar Khola River L A Remarks
Narayani L A Remarks
Koshi River L A Remarks
Mahakali River L A Remarks
Mahananda River L A Remarks
Sapt Koshi L A Remarks
Mahananda River L A Remarks
Mahananda River L A Remarks
Sharada Khola L A Remarks
Seti River 130 Miles (210 Km) 15419 ft (4700 M) The only river that remains to follow without causing any harm to land. Everything in its path to the right or left is as it is as given by the Nature!
Tamur River L A Remarks
Trisuli River L A Remarks

footnote: L,A and remarks are being updated, please stay with us…

Rivers and Fun

Rafting is a popular sport of Nepal. You probably already know about the number one sport of Nepal, don’t you ? Here is the answer if you need! Nepal’s rivers are mad, fast and furious, they provide tons of river fun. But don’t be scared, some rivers are here for the easy riders too. Unspoilt Magnificent Natural surroundings add to the beauty of these rivers which will multiply your fun. Rafting is more about getting closer to the heavenly Shangrila of Nepal than losing paddles in the water! Do rafting here, you will be glad you did it. Just make sure you get hold of the right guys. Visit our Web Directory – List of Exclusive River Rafting Operators >> and Learn all about Rafting Sport of Nepal here >> It is worth carrying a water-proof camera, safety jackets, first-aid kits, tents and camps but you can leave all to our professional companies too. This sport did not become popular over-night, its popularity does say a lot about how well Nepal is prepared to take you to the rivers.

Rivers and Hydro-power Business in Nepal

“Hydro power could help alleviate poverty” — United Nations

Many of Nepal’s rivers such as the Karnali, Seti, and Gandaki are fueled by the Himalayas. These rivers rush through 8848m altitude from sea level to 60m. Extreme elevation of the land helps these rivers fly! And they carry water to generate more than 90,000 mW of electricity. Currently Nepal produces less than 2% of it’s capacity. So why hasn’t anything been done to get closer to 98% of this open business ?
Many small sized hydro power plants are being currently setup. Lack of infrastructure such as roads, government policy, war and conflict in the region has slowed down many projects.

In Nepal, there are more plans than actions. There are plans to elevate poverty, such plans go through numbers like these.. Plan 1 to Plan 20. There are also plans to setup hydro-power projects to make nepal sufficient of electricity and also earn foreign revenue by selling it. Hydro power Plans have similar numbers like Plan 1 and Plan 2 and so on. They are as boring as the talks of political leaders. Everybody loves pointing their fingers at the other Government, and Every Government operates for about an year before it is replaced by another. When the new Government comes to office, they argue why plan-numbers were not long, so they add Plan 21 through Plan 9999 before saying good bye! In last 10 years alone, Nepal had more than 10 different governments, about one new government per year.

In case you were interested, there are hydro-power plans for upto year 2030, by which they believe Nepal will produce enough electricity for the entire country as well as start making some money by selling it!

Many small to medium sized, some privately owned hydropower plants are being setup in many part of the country, proving to all foreign investors that Nepal’s rivers are good for business. Read about Nepal’s War and how Nepal is unfolding, some argue is it really ? Also visit blogs by Nepalese who have good coverage on what Nepali Government really is. See Web Directory > Nepali Blogs

Also check out this nice PDF File which has Nepal Power Development Map, lot of small to large scale hydro power projects, some active and some just sleeping ones…NepalHydro.org.np : PDF : 2001 Publications


Categories :

Airports of Nepal -  Big or Small Nepal? -  Education System of Nepal -  Forestry in Nepal – What’s it like ? -  How Big is Nepal’s Tourism ? -  Hydropower in Nepal -  Lakes of Nepal -  Nepal Promoting Gay and Lesbian Travelers -  Nepali Himalayan Tea -  Picnic with Locals -  Rivers of Nepal -  Syangja a Place for Trekking -  The Little Nepali Buddha Boy Banjan - 

Main Categories : Features » Featured Articles