1 May 2019
Ichamati, a trans-boundary river that serves as the international border between India and Bangladesh, is deeply embedded in the socio-cultural history and literature of Bengal. The river flows out of the Mathabhanga in Nadia district of West Bengal and almost immediately crosses the border into Bangladesh at Damurhuda upazila of Chuadhanga district. It again enters India through the tri-junction of Chuadanga district of Bangaldesh, and the districts of Nadia and North 24-Paraganas in India. From there, the Ichhamati traverses the areas of Bongaon,Swarupnagar, Baduria and Hasnabad towards the southeast across the North 24-Paraganas district
On its course, Ichhamati makes several entries and re-entries into Indian and Bangladeshi territories, and at some stretches, forms the international boundary between the two countries, especially on its downstream section from Hasnabad in the North 24-Paraganas district of India to Shyamnagar in Satkhira district of Bangladesh.
Though the Ichhamati touches several districts of Bangladesh, such as Chuadanga, Jessore and Satkhira, majpor part of its journey is through the Indian territories. While in Bangladesh, the Ichhamati is joined by a number of rivers like Neodanga, Hanarsonai, Saratkhal and Dantbhanga. in Kaliganj upazila of Satkhira ‘district, it is also joined by a small tributary, Kalindi, and, thus, is known as Ichhamati-Kalindi. The river finally falls into the Raimangal, and the joint stream heads towards the Bay of Bengal.
The Ichhamati is deeply embedded in the socio-cultural history and literature of Bengal. The estate of Raja Pratapaditya, one of the famous ‘Baro Bhuyians’ (12 local kings) during the Mughal rule, was located beside the river. In literature too, Ichhamati has been immortalized by two of Bengai’s most iconic litterateurs, Rabindranath Tagore and Bibhutibhusan Bandhyopadyay. Bibhutibhusan, who had a house on the bank of Ichhamati at Bongaon, used its name number of times in his famous novel, ’Pather Panchali’, while the river was one of the favourites of Rabindranath Tagore as well. Tagore, who was used to traverse through the river frequently on his way to Silaidaha in connection to his zamindari supervision works, composed numerous letters, poems and songs during these journeys. In one of his poems, he even wished to be like the river Ichhamati!
Certain stretches of lchhamati-Kalindi, especially its confluence with the Jamuna at Jogini Ghat, are considered sacred and thousands of people take holy dips during the auspicious full moon months of October and November. Jamuna is a small tributary which flows into the Ichamati-Kalindi in West Bengal. The fisher folks from both the countries navigate the waters together, flying their respective national flags on their boats. Even few years back there was a custom to immerse Durga idols of both countries together in middle of Ichamati through a spectacular show being witnessed by thousands from both countries; one of its kind global example on any trans boundary river.