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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • Vedic civilizations
  • Harappan civilizations
  • Sarasvati River
  • Thar Desert
  • Southwest Monsoon
  • Rajasthan

Index Terms

  • 0744 Cryosphere: Rivers
  • 1051 Geochemistry: Sedimentary geochemistry
  • 1130 Geochronology: Geomorphological geochronology
  • 1605 Global Change: Abrupt/rapid climate change



Abrupt Holocene Climatic Change in Northwestern India: Disappearance of the Sarasvati River and the End of Vedic Civilization

B. S. Paliwal

Abrupt climatic changes during the Holocene period accompanied by neotectonic disturbances in the northwestern part of the Indian Peninsular Shield brought about major changes in the region, popularly known as the Thar Desert. These changes not only disorganized the drainage pattern of the region but caused the disappearance of the Vedic Sarasvati River and several other tributaries of the Indus River. Many new tributaries like Jhelam, Chinab, Ravi, Satluj, and Vyas were added to the main course of the Indus River. Ancient mythological literature of India, particularly, Vedas, Puranas, Manusmriti, and Mahabharata of Hinduism, provides evidence showing that the Sarasvati and Drishadvati rivers were flowing in this region during the Vedic era. The famous Vedic civilization flourished along the banks of this mighty river. Because of these abrupt climatic changes and neotectonic activities the Vedic civilization, a civilization much older than those of the Indus Valley and the Harappan civilization, met its end, and several saline lakes were formed in the green fertile region.

Citation: Paliwal, B. S. (2011), Abrupt Holocene climatic change in northwestern India: Disappearance of the Sarasvati River and the end of Vedic civilization, in Abrupt Climate Change: Mechanisms, Patterns, and Impacts, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 193, edited by H. Rashid, L. Polyak and E. Mosley-Thompson, pp. 185–194, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2010GM001028.

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