Despite efforts to clean up and restore its natural beauty, the Bagmati river continues to remain polluted and filthy, its banks filled with heaps of trash and garbage.
Much has been written about the state of Bagmati by Nepali and international journalists. Two international news outlets yet again shone the spotlight on the state of one of the subcontinent’s holiest rivers.
Officials say efforts are on to build waste-water treatment plants, resolve Kathmandu valley’s seemingly never-ending garbage problem, and restore the river’s glory.
That may take some more time.
Meanwhile, the river’s banks are showing some signs of changing - thanks to recent initiatives to develop parks, walking paths, and football grounds. There, you can see locals walking, jogging, or just sitting, enjoying the fresh air and, wherever possible, some greenery.
From river-side paths and parks in the Gokarneshwor area to the new football ground in Kupondole, here's a quick list of parks and grounds that now dot the Bagmati corridor landscape:
What used to be the barren land near the confluence of the Bagmati and Manohara rivers until not so long ago is now a fine stadium.
The Chyasal stadium located in Chyasal, Lalitpur was built in 2002, with the support of FIFA's soccer development project in South Asia.
In 2017, the National Sports Council decided to upgrade the training grounds into a functional football stadium.
The construction of the multi-purpose stadium was completed in 2021. It is mainly used for football matches and has a grass playing surface. It is smaller than any other stadium in Nepal but has become a nice and quiet place for young students and athletes to hone their footballing skills.
Slightly west of Chyasal stadium is the holy place called Sankhamul. A few hundred meters west of the temples sits the Shankhamul park, a golden conch shining brightly atop a tower.
The park was built in 2014 by the Non-Resident Nepali Association in the Shankhamul ghat.
The entrance is free.
Once inside, you can sit amidst flowers and green grass and enjoy views of the Bagmati and parts of Kathmandu and Lalitpur cities.
The UN Park
Sprawling the southern banks of the Bagmati east of the Thapathali Bridge, the United Nations Park (UN Park) boasts a rare green block of green trees not seen anywhere nearby amidst the concrete jungles of the twin cities: Kathmandu and Lalitpur.
Spread across nearly 1600 Ropanis of land the park was inaugurated way back in the mid-1990s but completed much later after nearly two decades. Today, the Park has become an urban oasis, attracting locals and visitors who enjoy a variety of activities from dawn to dusk.
Besides young lovebirds and wannabe TikTok stars, the park has turned into a haven for yoga and Zumba groups – and not to forget local joggers and walkers.
From UN Park one can walk towards the Thapathali Bagmati bridge in Kupondole where walls are being built in the Bagmati corridor as part of a beautification campaign.
Once the area was used as a cremation ghat by locals but now walls are being built at the edge of the river to make room for a new walking path.
West of the Thapathali Bagmati bridge, a new river-side football ground is being built, and you may have noticed the greenery while passing by.
According to the Information officer of the High Powered Committee for Integrated Development of the Bagmati Civilization, Kamal Aryal, the government is planning to build parks, open spaces, footpaths, public toilets, and cycle lanes along the banks.
North of the Pashupati Area, locals and visitors have started enjoying river-side paths and parks that are being built to beautify the banks.
The beautification campaign of the Gokarna-Guheshwori section comes under The Bagmati River Basin Improvement Project (BRBIP).
It was implemented by loan and grant from ADB with the objective of improving the conditions of sacred river Bagmati including eleven one-meter check dams/weirs between Gokarna and Sinamangal Bridge for river bed stabilisation.
The aim is to Replace the gabion walls with river walls over 6.1 kilometres from Gokarna to Guheshwori and provision of river walls over a stretch of 1100 metres from Tilganga to Sinamangal Bridge for river bank stabilisation and flood protection on either side of the road.
Likewise, enhancement, management, and beautification of the riparian banks (green zones with footpaths and bicycle lanes and amenities areas) which are under government ownership from Tilganga to Sinamangal Bridge are taking place.
Construction of the Bagmati Corridor began in 2009 but for 10 long years, it got delayed. It never met its aim to provide safety, security, and natural beauty to the Bagmati river.
After a decade, the beautification campaign was restarted in September 2019 and is set to be finished in December 2022. The High Powered Committee for Integrated Development of the Bagmati Civilisation is currently in a rush to finish the work.