Teesta River
Teesta in Siliguri, West Bengal
Path of the Teesta
Teesta River is located in Sikkim
Teesta River
Source of Teesta river in Sikkim
Teesta River is located in India
Teesta River
Teesta River (India)
Important Bridges
Towns & Cities
Physical characteristics
SourcePauhunri, Zemu Glacier, Gurudongmar Lake, Tso Lhamo Lake
 • locationSikkim, India
 • elevation7,128 m (23,386 ft)[1]
MouthBrahmaputra River
 • location
Phulchhari Upazila, Gaibandha, Bangladesh
Length414 km (257 mi)[1]
Basin size12,540 km2 (4,840 sq mi)[2]
Basin features
 • left
 • right

Teesta River is a 414 km (257 mi) long river that rises in the Pauhunri Mountain of eastern Himalayas, flows through the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal and subsequently enters Bangladesh through Rangpur division. In Bangladesh, it merges with Brahmaputra River which after meeting some other major rivers of the Bengal delta finally falls into the Bay of Bengal.[1] It drains an area of 12,540 km2 (4,840 sq mi).[2] In India, the Teesta flows through Mangan District, Gangtok District, Pakyong District, Kalimpong district, Darjeeling District, Jalpaiguri District, Cooch Behar districts and the cities of Rangpo, Jalpaiguri and Mekhliganj. In Bangladesh, it flows through Lalmonirhat District, Rangpur District, Kurigram District and Gaibandha District. It joins the Brahmaputra River at Phulchhari Upazila in Bangladesh. 305 km (190 mi) of the river lies in India and 109 km (68 mi) in Bangladesh. The Teesta is the largest river of Sikkim and second largest river of West Bengal after the Ganges.


Teesta river near Gangtok
Teesta river near Gangtok
National Highway 10 winds along the banks of the Teesta River near Kalimpong.

The Teesta River originates from Teesta Khangtse Glacier, west of Pahunri (or Teesta Kangse) glacier above 5,400 m (17,700 ft), and flows southward through gorges and rapids in the Sikkim Himalaya.[3]

It is fed by streams from Tso Lhamo Lake, Gurudongmar Lake and rivulets arising in the Thangu Valley, Yumthang Valley of Flowers, Dikchu and Donkha mountain ranges. The river then flows past the towns of Chungthang, Singhik, Mangan, Dikchu and Makha, where some major tributaries like Kanaka river join it, and reaches Singtam, where it is spanned by the scenic Indreni Bridge. Also in Singtam, a large tributary of the Teesta called Ranikhola joins and then descends towards Bardang, Majitar, Mining where it is spanned by Rangpo - Mining Teesta Bridge and reaches the city of Rangpo where Rangpo River, the second largest tributary of the Teesta joins. From here river Teesta forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal up to Teesta Bazaar via Melli. Just before the Teesta Bridge, where the roads from Kalimpong and Darjeeling join, the river is met by its largest tributary, the Rangeet River.[4]

After this point, Teesta river changes its course southwards flowing into West Bengal and some more tributaries like Relli River, Riyang river, Geil Khola etc joins. Than the river hits the plains at Sevoke, 22 km (14 mi) northeast of Siliguri, where it is spanned by the Coronation Bridge and Sevoke Railway Bridge linking the northeast states to the rest of India. After crossing Sevoke, the river is fed by some small tributaries like Chel Khola, Neora Khola, Leesh Khola etc, and than reaches Gajoldoba where there is Teesta Barrage. The river then flows through Jalpaiguri, where Jalpaiguri Teesta Bridge links Northeastern States. The river flows further down through Mekhliganj and Haldibari in Cooch Behar district, where it is spanned by Joyee Setu, the longest roadway bridge of West Bengal with length 3.8 kilometres.

Here the Teesta completes its journey in India and enters Bangladesh in Dahagram, Rangpur Division. The river descends towards Barakhata, where there is Teesta Barrage of Bangladesh. Further it reaches Rangpur and Lalmonirhat town in Lalmonirhat District and Nilphamari District. After crossing Tepamadhupur Bazaar, Nagrakura Bazaar, Sundarganj and Bozra Bazaar, river Teesta joins Brahmaputra River at Haripur Port near Gaibandha, Phulchhari Upazila in Kurigram District of Bangladesh.[5]

Gajoldoba Barrage on Teesta river


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Through its course, the Teesta river has carved out ravines and gorges in Sikkim meandering through the hills with the hill station of Kalimpong lying just off the river and the city of Siliguri at the foothills of Himalaya. Variegated vegetation can be seen along this route. At lower elevations, tropical deciduous trees and shrubs cover the surrounding hills; alpine vegetation is seen at the upper altitudes. The river is flanked by white sand which is used by the construction industry in the region. Large boulders in and around the waters make it ideal for rafting.

Between Rangpo town and the railway bridge (popularly called Lohapul or iron bridge) on it as it enters the plains at Sevoke, the Teesta flows with a very strong current, ideal for white river rafting. Towns like Teesta Bazaar and Melli have facilities for group rafting. Though the river looks innocuous, the underlying current is very strong. In 1915, G.P. Robertson, the then Municipal Engineer of Darjeeling, drowned after losing control of the boat in the turbulence while surveying the river. The boat struck a partially hidden boulder and was sucked in by a whirlpool, leaving no trace of the occupants.

During the monsoon, Teesta river distends its banks; both in size and turbulence. Landslides in this region often dam up parts of the river in this season. It has also caused severe flooding, multiple times during monsoon in Bangladesh.[6][7]

Changes in course of rivers

James Rennell's 1776 map shows an earlier flow of the Teesta meeting the Ganges in three channels before a devastating flood in 1787 changed its course

In the past, the Teesta flowed south from Jalpaiguri in three channels: the Punarbhaba, Atrai and Karatoya Rivers. The Teesta changed course as a result of the flooding of 1787, turning southeast to become part of the Brahmaputra.[8]

Hydroelectric projects and barrages

Hydel project on the Dikchu, a tributary of Teesta
The Teesta Barrage is a major irrigation project in Bangladesh, in Lalmonirhat District. Construction started 1979 and was completed in 1997–98.[9]

India has an estimated total hydroelectric power potential of 84 GW at 60% load factor. Of this, Sikkim's potential share is 2.9%, or about 4.29 GW.[10]

The successfully completed major projects and dams of Teesta River System are as follows:

The other three completed projects are significantly smaller and minor—Lower Lagyap, Upper Rongni Chhu and Mayang Chhu projects.[10]

Water sharing challenge

Disputes over the appropriate allocation and development of the water resources of the river have remained a subject of conflict between India and Bangladesh for almost 35 years, with several bilateral agreements and rounds of talks failing to produce results.[26][27][28]

Negotiations have been going on since 1983.[29][30][31] In 1983, a temporary solution had been worked out— Bangladesh would get 36%, India would get 39% while the rest of the water remained unallocated.[30] Both countries signed a water sharing treaty in 1996 which would look into water sharing between the two countries in general following the Ganges water dispute.[30] The water sharing remains a challenge.[30]

Seismic concerns

Teesta river area is in the seismically active Zone-V and has experienced micro-seismic activity. According to India's Ministry of Environment & Forests, the Teesta river dam projects have been approved with the requirement that they adopt suitable seismic coefficient in the design for the dam, tunnel, surge shaft and power house. The projects are cascaded over the length of the river, do not store large amounts water, have small reservoirs, and therefore the projects are expected to have very low risk from the reservoir induced seismicity in the area.[10]

Climate and tectonics

The Teesta river has preserved good imprints of climatic and tectonics along its valleys and catchments. The interrelationship between climate, erosion, deposition and tectonic activities is not properly understood to date. These are being studied.[3][32][33]

2023 Teesta Flash Floods

Main article 2023 Teesta Flash Flood

See also


  1. ^ a b c Mullick, M. R. A.; Babel, M. S. & Perret, S. R. (2011). "Discharge‐based economic valuation of irrigation water: Evidence from the Teesta River, Bangladesh". Irrigation and Drainage. 60 (4): 481−492. doi:10.1002/ird.597.
  2. ^ a b Rahaman, M. M. & Mamun, A. A. (2020). "Hydropower development along Teesta river basin: opportunities for cooperation". Water Policy. 22 (4): 641–657. doi:10.2166/wp.2020.136.
  3. ^ a b Meetei, L. I.; Pattanayak, S. K.; Bhaskar, A.; Pandit, M. K.; Tandon, S. K. (2007). "Climatic imprints in Quaternary valley fill deposits of the middle Teesta valley, Sikkim Himalaya". Quaternary International. 159 (1): 32–46. Bibcode:2007QuInt.159...32M. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2006.08.018.
  4. ^ Chaudhuri, Samita; Chaudhuri, Utpal (2015). And the Teesta Flows... Niyogi Books. p. 188. ISBN 978-93-83098-70-5.
  5. ^ Joshi, H. G. (2004). Sikkim: Past and Present. Mittal Publications. p. 1. ISBN 978-81-7099-932-4. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  6. ^ Hossain, E.; Manik, R. K. (2021). "Fresh flood feared in Bangladesh as India opens Gajoldoba again". New Age. Lalmonirhat. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  7. ^ Badal, L. A. (2021). "Nearly 2,000 families stranded as flood hits 15 Rangpur villages". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  8. ^ Majumdar, R. C. (1971). History of Ancient Bengal. Calcutta: G. Bhardwaj & Co. pp. 4–5. OCLC 961157849.
  9. ^ Bari, M F. (2012). "Barrage". Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  10. ^ a b c "Environmental Impact Assessment of Ting Ting H.E. Project, Sikkim" (PDF). Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Teesta-V D01535". India Water Resources Information System. National Remote Sensing Centre. Government of India. Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  12. ^ "Teesta Dam Chungthang Mangan district Sikkim. Constructed by - Teesta Urja Limited". teestaurja.com.
  13. ^ Choudhury, Subrata Nag; Hussain, Zarir (4 October 2023). "Floods in India's Sikkim state leave 10 dead, 82 missing". Reuters. Archived from the original on 4 October 2023. Retrieved 4 October 2023.
  14. ^ "Sikkim dam washed away in 10 minutes after flash flood: Official". Hindustan Times. 4 October 2023. Archived from the original on 4 October 2023. Retrieved 4 October 2023.
  15. ^ "Teesta Low Dam III". nhpc.co.in.
  16. ^ "Teesta Low Dam IV". nhpcindia.com.
  17. ^ "Gajoldoba Teesta Barrage a bird watching destination". northbengaltourism.com.
  18. ^ "Teesta Barrage". en.banglapedia.org.
  19. ^ "Teesta VI Dam Singtam Sirwani". www nhpcindia.com.
  20. ^ "RANGIT-III HE PROJECT - NHPC(SIKKIM) -". India Water Resources Information System. National Remote Sensing Centre. Government of India. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Gati Infra | Chuzachen Hydro Electric Power Project".
  22. ^ "Gati Infra builds 110 MW hydro power project in Sikkim". Economic Times. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
  23. ^ "96 MW Dikchu River Hydroelectric Power Project". environment clearance.nic.in.
  24. ^ "Sneha Kinetic Power Project on Dikchu River". www.sserc.in.
  25. ^ "Madhya Bharat Power Corporation Limited". www.sserc.in.
  26. ^ Sarkar, SK (3 April 2017). "Sharing the Teesta". The Statesman (Opinion). Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  27. ^ Ray, Aparna (8 June 2012). "India, Bangladesh: Water Disputes and Teesta River Diplomacy". Global Voices. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  28. ^ Bhattacharjee, Joyeeta (10 December 2016). "India and Bangladesh need to bring the Teesta out of muddled waters". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  29. ^ "The Teesta river dispute explained in 10 points". The Times of India. 9 April 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  30. ^ a b c d Ranjan, Amit (2020). "3: River water disputes between India and Bangladesh. The Teesta Rivers waters dispute.". Contested Waters: India's Transboundary River Water Disputes in South Asia. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-000-17390-1.
  31. ^ Gambhir, Mohak (31 May 2021). "Teesta Dispute and India-Bangladesh Relations". Center For Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS). Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  32. ^ Mukul, Malay (2000). "The geometry and kinematics of the Main Boundary Thrust and related neotectonics in the Darjiling Himalayan fold-and-thrust belt, West Bengal, India". Journal of Structural Geology. 22 (9): 1261–1283. Bibcode:2000JSG....22.1261M. doi:10.1016/S0191-8141(00)00032-8.
  33. ^ Mukul, Malay; Jaiswal, M.; Singhvi, A. K. (November 2007). "Timing of recent out-of-sequence active deformation in the frontal Himalayan wedge: Insights from the Darjiling sub-Himalaya, India". Geology. 35 (11). The Geological Society of America: 999–1002. Bibcode:2007Geo....35..999M. doi:10.1130/G23869A.1.

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