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Exploring Brahmputra from Mt Kailash to Bay of Bengal

The magnificence of Brahmputra (called Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet), its unique ecosystem and the mesmerising landscape, especially in the icy high altitudes in Tibetan Himalayas and the culturally diverse human population throughout its course, has bowled over an international river expedition team led by renowned Swiss sailor and adventure manager Andy Leeman.

It was on October 1 that the expedition, comprising members from Switzerland, India, Germany, USA, Czechoslovakia and New Zealand, began its journey to cover the entire course (3,000 km) of the river on foot and boats. The expedition began at the source of the river in Tibet and would end at the delta where it meets the Bay of Bengal — after a journey of 50 days.

It was the first such international expedition on the Yarlung Tsangpo (Sky river) from the southern Tibet where the river originates in the Chemayung-Dung glacier in a remote mountain mass near Mount Kailash (6,638 mt), making it the highest river in the world. After leaving the plateau, it flows around Mount Manche Barwa into the world’s longest and the deepest gorge — the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon.

Andy Leeman, the leader of the expedition that has reached Guwahati along the river, said in the first phase of their journey in Tibetan part of the river, the team travelled 800 km in inflatable boats downs some most punishing rapids in the world. The team also trekked 1,000 km along the river surmounting some challenging heights in Tibetan part.

Leeman said he collected water from the source of Yarlung Tsangpo and would pour it into the river when it converges to the Bay of Bengal as part of a tradition. “We have been awed by the scenic beauty, diversity of culture, ethnicity and lifestyle of the people living on the banks of the river from its origin… Our objective is to remind people about the ecological, cultural and economic importance of rivers that once used to be the only channel of communication,” Leeman said.

Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS

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