River Shipra

River Shipra (Kshipra)

Place of Origin: Vindhya Range (north of Dhar), Madhya Pradesh
Length: 195 km
Confluence: River Chambal

Religious Significance

The Shipra river is one of the sacred rivers in India. It finds mention not only in ancient Hindu texts, but also in Buddhist and Jain scriptures. The holy city of Ujjain is situated on its right bank. There are hundreds of hindu shrines along the banks of the river Shipra. Every evening was Shipra arati, the offering of lit oil lamps to the river. This was popular with the pilgrims. Thousands of small lamps are set afloat on the river on rafts of leaves and flowers. It is believed that the north-bound Shipra takes these offerings to the abode of Lord Siva in the Himalayas.

The Kumbh Mela festival takes place on the city’s elaborate riverside ghats once every 12 years, as do yearly celebrations of the river goddess Kshipra.

Legend has it that once Lord Shiva went begging for alms, using the skull of Lord Brahma as the begging bowl. Nowhere in the three worlds did he manage to get any alms. Ultimately, he went to Vaikunth, or the abode of Lord Vishnu, and asked Lord Vishnu for alms. In return, Lord Vishnu showed Lord Shiva his index finger, which enraged the latter. Lord Shiva took out his trishul, or trident, and cut Lord Vishnu’s fingers. The Preserver’s fingers began to bleed profusely, and the blood accumulated in Brahma’s skull and soon overflowed from it. The flow became a stream and finally a river – the Shipra.

The Puranas, or ancient Hindu texts, also suggest that the Shipra originated from the heart of Varaha, Lord Vishnu’s incarnation as a boar. Also on the banks of the Shipra is Sage Sandipani’s ashram or hermitage where the blue god, Krishna, Lord Vishnu’s eighth incarnation, had studied.

a is the most important point on the way to Sabarimala. It is here that Lord Ayappa was found by King Rajasekara. It is considered as sacred as the Ganges and is believed to purify one of sins. All pilgrims take a ritual dip in the river before heading to Sabarimala. Pilgrims also perform ‘pitru tarpanam’ (offering to ancestors) before starting the trek to the shrine.

Ecologocal Significance

The river is home to a variety of fish. A 10 km stretch of the river Shipra, where the fish congregate for breeding is declared as a sanctuary. Exploitation of under-sized fishes has been checked by the use of mesh and imposing fish size regulations.

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