Hooghly River
HooghlyRiverOverBally gobeirne.jpg
The Hooghly River viewed over the town of Bally, Howrah
StateWest Bengal
DistrictsMurshidabad, Nadia, Purba Bardhaman, Hooghly, Howrah, North 24 Parganas, Kolkata, South 24 Parganas, East Midnapore
Physical characteristics
MouthBay of Bengal
 • location
Sunderbans in West Bengal
Length260 kilometres
 • maximum117 m
Basin features
BridgesVidyasagar Setu (Second Hooghly Bridge)
Rabindra Setu (Howrah Bridge)
Nivedita Setu
Vivekananda Setu (Bally bridge)
Sampreeti Bridge
Jubilee Bridge
Ishwar Gupta Setu
Gourango Setu
New Bhagirathi Bridge
Ramendra Sundar Tribedi Setu
Jangipur Bhagirathi Bridge

The Bhagirathi Hooghly River (Anglicized alternatively spelled Hoogli or Hugli) or the 'Bhāgirathi-Hooghly', or simply just Ganga,[1] called the Kati-Ganga in the Puranas, is a river that rises close to Giria, which is north of Baharampur and Palashi, in Murshidabad and is the western tributary of the Ganges.[2] The main course of the Ganges then flows into Bangladesh as the Padma.[3] A man-made canal at Farakka connects the Ganges to the Bhagirathi to bring the abundant waters of the Himalayan river to the comparatively narrow river that rises in West Bengal.

The river flows through the Rarh region, the lower deltaic districts of West Bengal, and eventually into the Bay of Bengal. The upper riparian zone of the river is called Bhagirathi while the lower riparian zone is called Hooghly. Major and minor rivers that drain into the Bhagirathi-Hooghly include the Ajay, Falgu, Jalangi and Churni to the north and Rupnarayan, Mayurakshi, Damodar and Haldi to the south. Major cities that stand on the banks of the Hooghly are Baharampur, Kalyani, Tribeni, Saptagram, Bandel, Hugli, Chandannagar, Srirampur, Barrackpur, Rishra, Konnagar, Uttarpara, Titagarh, Kamarhati, Agarpara, Baranagar, Howrah, Kolkata and Uluberia.[4]

The river is held sacred to Hindus and it has religious significance. The river also plays a major role in the agriculture, industry and climate of the state.


The vast majority of the water that flows into the Hooghly River is provided by the man-made Farakka Feeder Canal, rather than the natural source of the river at Giria. The Farakka Barrage is a dam that diverts water from the Ganges into the Farakka Feeder Canal near the town of Tildanga in Murshidabad district, located 40  km upstream from Giria. This supplies the Hooghly with water as per the agreement between India and Bangladesh. The feeder canal runs parallel to the Ganges, past Dhulian, until just above Jahangirpur where the canal ends and joins the Bhagirathi river. The Bhagirathi then flows south past Jiaganj Azimganj, Murshidabad, and Baharampur. South of Baharampur and north of Palashi it used to form the border between Bardhaman District and Nadia District, but while the border has remained the same the river is now often east or west of its former bed. The river then flows south past Katwa, Nabadwip, Kalna and Jirat. At Kalna it originally formed the border between Nadia District and Hooghly District, and then further south between Hooghly District and North 24 Parganas District. It flows past Halisahar, Chinsurah, Naihati, Bhatpara, Konnagar, Serampore, and Kamarhati. Then, just before entering the twin cities of Kolkata (Calcutta) and Howrah, it turns to the southwest. At Nurpur it enters an old channel of the Ganges, and turns south to empty into the Bay of Bengal through an estuary about 20 mi (32 km) wide.[5]

Ain-i-Akbari,[6] a book by Abu'l-Fazl, describes that the river Ganga and river Sarwasati (Sarsuti) streams of lower Bengal had different flows. According to the footnotes of this book, the colour of the water of the Sarawasati was white, the colour of another stream named Jamuna was blue, and the colour of the Ganga was muddy and yellowish. From Kolkata the main flow of the Hooghly-Bhagirathi (or Ganga) used to run along the side of the Kalighat temple, Baruipur, Jaynagar, Chhatrabhog and Hatiagarh. At that time, between Khiderpore and Sankrail[7] no flow existed. Presently, the stream between Khiderpore and Sankrail became known as KatiGanga. A channel had been dug at the time of Alibardi Khan in the middle of the 18th century. This happened with the assistance of Dutch traders, who also set up a toll point on the Hooghly river.[8] So the present reach of the Hooghly is the lower part of the historical Saraswati. Kolkata the capital of West Bengal is located on the banks of the Hoogly river.

Map of the Hooghly River delta showing Sagar Island
Map of the Hooghly River delta showing Sagar Island

Tidal bore

Hooghly River, Serampore
Hooghly River, Serampore

The tide runs rapidly on the Hooghly, and produces a remarkable example of the fluvial phenomenon known as a tidal bore. This consists of the head-wave of the advancing tide, hemmed in where the estuary narrows suddenly into the river, and often exceeds 7 ft (2.1 m) in height. It is felt as high up as Naihati 35 km upstream of Calcutta, and frequently destroys small boats.[9] A tidal bore which overcame the banks of the river in 1876 was reported to have killed up to a hundred thousand people.[9] The difference from the lowest point of low-water in the dry season to the highest point of high-water in the rains is reported to be 20 ft 10 in (6.35 m). The greatest mean rise of tide, about 16 ft (4.9 m), takes place in March, April or May - with a declining range during the rainy season to a mean of 10 ft (3.0 m), and a minimum during freshets of 3 ft 6 in (1.07 m).


In its upper reaches the river is generally known as the Bhāgirathi, until it reaches Hooghly. The word Bhāgirathi literally means "caused by Bhagiratha", a mythical Sagar Dynasty prince who was instrumental in bringing the river Ganges from the heavens on to the earth, in order to release his 60,000 grand-uncles from a curse of the saint Kapila.

In 1974, the Farakka Barrage began diverting water into the Hooghly during the dry season so as to reduce the silting difficulties at Kolkata's port.

Like the rest of the Ganges, the Bhāgirathi-Hooghly is considered sacred to Hindus,[10] and its water is considered holy.

Bridges and Tunnels

Sunset at River Hooghly, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Sunset at River Hooghly, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

The following bridges currently span the Hooghly/Bhagirathi River; listed from south to north (mouth to source), until the Farakka Feeder Canal meets the river:

The following bridges are under various stages of development:

The following tunnels are situated under the Hooghly River :-


A ferry operating between Howrah and Kolkata with Howrah Bridge (Rabindra Setu) in background
A ferry operating between Howrah and Kolkata with Howrah Bridge (Rabindra Setu) in background

The Bhāgirathi-Hooghly river system is an essential lifeline for the people of West Bengal. It was through this river that the East India company sailed into Bengal and established their trade settlement, Calcutta, the capital of British India. People from other countries such as the French, Dutch, Portuguese, etc. all had their trade settlements by the banks of this river.

The river provides a perennial supply of water to the plain of West Bengal for irrigation and human & industry consumption. The river is navigable and a major transport system in the region with a large traffic flow. For a long time, the Calcutta Port was the biggest port of India. Although in the past its significance had gone down, recently it has reached the 3rd position in the list of Indian Ports. The modern container port of Haldia, on the intersection of lower Hooghly and Haldi River, now carries much of the region's maritime trade. One new port will be built in the deep sea to reduce the load on Calcutta port.

Despite the river being polluted, the fish from it are important to the local economy.

Panoramic view of Kolkata from Howrah with Second Hooghly Bridge
Panoramic view of Kolkata from Howrah with Second Hooghly Bridge

The Hooghly river valley was the most important industrial area of the state of Bengal. Despite a decline of the jute industry, the prime industry of this region, it is still one of the biggest industrial areas of India. It has a number of small cities which form the Greater Kolkata agglomeration, the second biggest Indian city and the former capital.

In September 2015, the Government of West Bengal announced that renovation of the Hooghly riverfront in Kolkata will be completed with the help of World Bank funding under the National Ganga River Basin Project Scheme.[13]

Hooghly River in arts

Ganga Arati on the banks of the Hooghly river, Howrah
Ganga Arati on the banks of the Hooghly river, Howrah
The Hooghly River from the Harvest Fields of Bengal, c. 1905
The Hooghly River from the Harvest Fields of Bengal, c. 1905
Hooghly River near Diamond Harbour
Hooghly River near Diamond Harbour


Rudyard Kipling wrote an article, On the Banks of the Hugli[14] (1888), and a short story set on the Hooghli, An Unqualified Pilot[15] (1895).

Cultural events

The Silk River project aims at exploring the artistic relationship between Kolkata and London through artistic exchange from 10 locations each along the Hooghly River and the River Thames. The 10 places along the Hooghly River are Murshidabad, Krishnagar, Chandernagore, Barrackpore, Jorasanko, Bowbazar, Howrah, Kidderpore, Botanical Gardens and Batanagar. Ten scrolls, painted in the Patua tradition, depicting the 10 places will be carried along the Hooghly River. The event began at Murshidabad on 7 December 2017 and ended at the Victoria Memorial, Kolkata on 17 December.[16][17]


See also


  1. ^ It is also widely called ganga (infact, it is locally more popular than hoogly) because it is one of the two tributaries of the Ganga and hence considered to be sacred as well. Some sources also say that it is the river Ganga itself, 'hoogly' is just a regional nickname. 1, 2
  2. ^ "Hugli River - river, India". Archived from the original on 4 October 2022. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  3. ^ Allison, Mead A. (Summer 1998). "Geologic Framework and Environmental Status of the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta". Journal of Coastal Research. Coastal Education & Research Foundation, Inc. 13 (3): 826–836. JSTOR 4298836.
  4. ^ "District". Voiceofbengal.com. Archived from the original on 11 November 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Hugli River". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 5 June 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  6. ^ https://archive.org/details/ainiakbarivolum00mubgoog The Ain I Akbary Abul Fazl Allammi Vol-2, Translated by Colonel H.S.Jarrett published by The Asiatic Society of Bengal Printed at the Baptist Mission Press in 1891 Calcutta page-120.
  7. ^ https://cclpworldwide.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Hooghly-Jelar-Itihas-Sudhir-Kumar-Mitra.pdf Archived 23 March 2020 at the Wayback Machine Jelar Itihas Sudhir Kumar Mitra/ page no 792 (original book) internet page 806
  8. ^ Chakraborty, Satyesh C. "The Story of River Port". Kolkata Port Trust. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  9. ^ a b Helen Schreider; Frank Schreider (October 1960). "From The Hair Of Siva". National Geographic. 118 (4): 445–503.
  10. ^ "What is the origin of holy river Ganga?". 20 March 2020. Archived from the original on 23 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Three river bridges in WB to boost trade, highlight culture". The Indian Express. 6 October 2017. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Kolkata Metro: 87 years on, boring re-creates CESC feat". The Times of India. 18 April 2017. Archived from the original on 22 September 2022. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  13. ^ "World Bank to fund Hooghly riverfront revamp - Times of India". The Times of India. 3 September 2015. Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  14. ^ "Chapter IV - City of Dreadful Night - From Sea to Sea - Rudyard Kipling, Book, etext". Telelib.com. 1 February 2003. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  15. ^ "An Unqualified Pilot - Land & Sea Tales - For Scouts and Guides - Rudyard Kipling, Book, etext". Telelib.com. 1 March 2003. Archived from the original on 5 April 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  16. ^ Chatterjee, Chandreyee (10 November 2016). "Exploring the River Connect". No. Kolkata. ABP. The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 January 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  17. ^ Basu, Anasuya (21 July 2017). "River Walk to Boost Ties". No. Kolkata. ABP. The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 January 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2017.