IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


26th October, 2023 Geography

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  • Quiet flows the Phalgu, undisturbed and unseen.
  • The river, according to a legend, hides itself by simply disappearing from the common man’s view.
  • Once Ram and Sita stopped by its banks for a breather. As they relaxed, Ram realized it was time to offer prayers to the departed.

About Phalgu River

  • The Phalgu or Falgu, a river that flows past Gaya, India in the Indian state of Bihar, is a sacred river for Hindus and Buddhists.
  • Lord Vishnu's Temple Vishnupad Mandir is situated on the bank of Phalgu river also called Niranjana River.


  • The Phalgu is formed by the confluence, some 3 kilometers (2 mi) below Bodh Gaya, of the Lilajan (also called Niranjan or Nilanjan) and the Mohana, two large hill streams each of which is over 270 meters (300 yds) wide.
  • The Phalgu is also mentioned as Niranjan. The united stream flows onto the north past the town of Gaya, where it attains a breadth of over 820 meters (900 yds).
  • The Phalgu here passes by a high rocky bank, on the steep sides of which are many paved stairs leading down to the river bed, while high above is the Vishnupad Mandir, with many minor shrines around it.
  • It then runs in a north-easterly direction for about 27 kilometers (17 mi), and opposite the Barabar hills, it again takes the name of Mohana and divides into two branches which eventually flow into a branch of the Punpun.

Religion Relevance

  • The portion of the course of the Phalgu flowing by Gaya is sacred to the Hindus.
  • It is the first holy site visited by the pilgrim and here his first offering must be made for the souls of his ancestors.
  • According to the Gaya Mahatmya, which forms part of the Vayu Purana, the Phalgu is the embodiment of Vishnu himself. One tradition states that it formerly flowed with milk.
  • According to Hindu belief, the soul wanders after death until pindadan, or religious service seeking salvation for the dead from the cycle of rebirth, is performed.
  • The fortnight-long pitrapaksh period is considered auspicious to offer pindadan.
  • The 15 days of the waning moon during the Hindu month of Ashvin are known as pitrapaksh. Pindadan is traditionally offered on the banks of the Phalgu at Gaya.
  • It is mandatory for Hindu devotees offering pindadan to shave their heads and take a holy dip and head for the Baitarni pond.
  • The prayers are performed at the Vishnupad Mandir. Priests, known as Gaywal-pandas, conduct the ritual. Thousands of Hindus visit Gaya for the purpose of pindadan.


  • There is reference to the city of Gaya and the Phalgu in the Ramayana in which it says that Sita had cursed the Phalgu River.
  • There is an interesting story and the Purana states that on account of this curse, the Phalgu lost its water, and the river is simply a vast stretch of sand dunes.
  • According to mythology, in the absence of Rama, his wife Sita offered pinda on its banks to Dasharatha father of Rama.


  • Before attaining Enlightenment, the Siddhārtha Gautama practiced asceticism on a tributary of the river.


Which of the following statements about the Phalgu River is correct?

  1. Phalgu River is a major tributary of the Ganges River.
  2. It flows exclusively through the state of Bihar.
  3. The river is often associated with the historical city of Gaya.
  4. Phalgu River is known for its vast network of dams and reservoirs.

Select the correct option:

A) Only 1 and 2

B) Only 2 and 4

C) Only 1 and 3

D) Only 3

Answer: C