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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Course of River Nile

Nile (नील) is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world.[1] It is 6,853 km long.


  • Nile (
  • Hindi: नील,
  • Arabic: النيل‎, Eg. en-Nīl, Std. an-Nīl;
  • Coptic: ⲫⲓⲁⲣⲱ, P(h)iaro;
  • Ancient Egyptian: Ḥ'pī and Iteru

Jat clans


The Nile is an "international" river as its water resources are shared by eleven countries, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.[2] In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.[3]

The northern section of the river flows north almost entirely through the Sudanese desert to Egypt, then ends in a large delta and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Egyptian civilization and Sudanese kingdoms have depended on the river since ancient times. Most of the population and cities of Egypt lie along those parts of the Nile valley north of Aswan, and nearly all the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt are found along riverbanks.

Origin of name

  • The English name Nile and the Arabic names en-Nîl and an-Nîl both derive from the Latin Nilus and the Ancient Greek Νεῖλος.[4][5]
  • It may get name from Sanskrit word Nila (नील) or Nilabha (नीलाभ) who was a Nagavanshi King of Mahabharata period.

Course of Nile

Above Khartoum the Nile is also known as the White Nile, a term also used in a limited sense to describe the section between Lake No and Khartoum. At Khartoum the river is joined by the Blue Nile. The White Nile starts in equatorial East Africa, and the Blue Nile begins in Ethiopia. Both branches are on the western flanks of the East African Rift.

Cities on River Nile

The catchment

The source of the Nile is sometimes considered to be Lake Victoria, but the lake has feeder rivers of considerable size. The Kagera River, which flows into Lake Victoria near the Tanzanian town of Bukoba, is the longest feeder, although sources do not agree on which is the longest tributary of the Kagera and hence the most distant source of the Nile itself.[6] It is either the Ruvyironza, which emerges in Bururi Province, Burundi, or the Nyabarongo, which flows from Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda. The two feeder rivers meet near Rusumo Falls on the Rwanda-Tanzania border.


E. J. Chinnock[7] writes....The word Nile never occurs in the Hebrew Bible; but that river is called Yeor (river). In Amos viii. 8 it is called Yeor Mitsraim, the river of Egypt; but it is usually called simply Yeor, the river. In Isa. xxiii. 3 the corn of Egypt is called the harvest of Yeor, or the Nile. In like manner Avon, Ganges, Rhine, mean river. The Greek name Neilos, or Nile, means a bed with a stream, and was originally applied to the land of Egypt, as the valley of the Nile. It rises in the lake Victoria Nyanza, and has a course of 3,300 miles. In Isa. xxiii. 3 and Jer. ii. 18 the Nile is called Shichor (turbid). In Homer (Odys., iv. 477, etc.) the river is called Egypt as well as the country. Cf. Ammianus, xxii. 15.

The Nile (iteru in Ancient Egyptian) has been the lifeline of civilization in Egypt since the Stone Age, with most of the population and all of the cities of Egypt resting along those parts of the Nile valley lying north of Aswan. Climate change at the end of the most recent ice age led to the formation of the Sahara desert, possibly as long ago as 3400 BC.

The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that "Egypt was the gift of the Nile". An unending source of sustenance, it provided a crucial role in the development of Egyptian civilization. Silt deposits from the Nile made the surrounding land fertile because the river overflowed its banks annually. The Ancient Egyptians cultivated and traded wheat, flax, papyrus and other crops around the Nile. Wheat was a crucial crop in the famine-plagued Middle East. This trading system secured Egypt's diplomatic relationships with other countries, and contributed to economic stability. Far-reaching trade has been carried on along the Nile since ancient times. The Ishango bone is probably an early tally stick. It has been suggested that this shows prime numbers and multiplication, but this is disputed. In the book How Mathematics Happened: The First 50,000 Years, Peter Rudman argues that the development of the concept of prime numbers could only have come about after the concept of division, which he dates to after 10,000 BC, with prime numbers probably not being understood until about 500 BC. He also writes that "no attempt has been made to explain why a tally of something should exhibit multiples of two, prime numbers between 10 and 20, and some numbers that are almost multiples of 10."[8] It was discovered along the headwaters of the Nile (near Lake Edward, in northeastern Congo) and was carbon-dated to 20,000 BC.

Mention by Pliny

Pliny [9] mentions....We then come to the nation of the Tyri, and the port of the Danei, from which place an attempt has been made to form a navigable canal to the river Nile, at the spot where it enters the Delta previously mentioned,4 the distance between the river and the Red Sea being sixty-two miles.

4 In c. 9 of the preceding Book. "Dictum," however, may only mean, "called" the Delta.

Jat History

Prof. B.S. Dhillon[10]Jats writes....Jats are the one component of a group of people known as the Scythians in the Western countries and Sakas in India. Diodorus (first century B.C.) [11] wrote, "But now, in turn, we shall discuss the Scythians who inhabit the country bordering India. But some time later the descendants (Scythians) of these kings, because of their unusual valour and skill as generals, subdued much of the territory beyond the Tanais river (far eastern Europe) as far as Thrace (modern north of Greece), and advancing with their power as far as the Nile in Egypt. This people increased to great strength and had notable kings, one of whom gave his name to the Sacae (Sakas), another to the Massagetae ("great" Jats), another to the Arimaspi, and several other tribes". The recent edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica [12] states "The Scythians were a people who during the 8th-7th centuries B.C. moved from Central Asia to Southern Russia, where they founded an empire that survived until they were gradually overcome and supplanted by the Sarmatians (another Scythian people) during the 4th century B.C. 2nd century A.D.".

James Todd[13] writes that the origin of the Scythic nations, as related by Diodorus; . when it will be observed the same legends were known to him which have been handed down by the Puranas and Abulghazi.

The Scythians had their first abodes on the Araxes.[14] Their origin was from a virgin born of the earth[15] of the shape of a woman from the waist upwards, and below a serpent (symbol of Budha or Mercury) ; that Jupiter had a son by her, named Scythes," whose name the nation adopted. Scythes had two sons, Palas and Napas (qu. the Nagas, or Snake race, of the Tatar genealogy ?), who were celebrated for their great actions, and who divided the countries ; and the nations were called after them, the Palians (qu. Pali ?)[16] and Napians. They led their forces as far as the Nile on Egypt, and subdued many nations. They enlarged the empire of the Scythians as far as the Eastern ocean,

[p. 71]: and to the Caspian and lake Moeotis. The nation had many kings, from whom the Sacans (Sakae), the Massagetae ( Getae or Jats), the Ari-aspians (Aswas of Aria), and many other races. They overran Assyria and Media . [17] , overturning the empire, and transplanting the inhabitants to the Araxes under the name of Sauro-Matians. [18]

As the Sakae, Getae, Aswa, and Takshak are names which have crept in amongst our thirty-six royal races, common with others also to early civilization in Europe.

Migrations from Indian to north western countries

Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria)[19] writes that We may now cite at some length from Pococke[20] who has traced Indian migrations to all corners of the world solely through linguistic similarities. This extreme reliance on phonetic similarities seems to weaken his argument, but there is ample support, from other disciplines, techniques and lines of investigation, for his claims. Further, the large body of data, he has massed together cannot be brushed away lightly. When supported by other evidence, his thesis becomes incontrovertible. According to Pococke a great number of adventurous preux chevalier tribes from India migrated to Spain, Italy, Greece, Asia Minor,Persia, Colchis, Armenia and the Caucasus region, all of which provide distinct and startling evidence of Indian colonization in great profusio. We have tried (Appendix No.6) to pinpoint the Indian names and places of the origin of the migrated tribes as well as the altered forms of their names in their new settlements in other countries. The appendix indicating all this, is by no means, exhaustive. It may not be unnecessary here to point out that in some countries the presence of Indian tribes can be construed by their names, though distorted, while, in others their identity can be traced by place names in these transformed phonemic nomenclatures. All the more significant is the fact that almost all the tribes are considered Saca-Getae (Jats) or Scythians by the learned scholar[21].(cf. Appendix No.6).

Pococke[22] believes that the major migrations took place from India as a result of internecine wars and religious persecutions in which the Buddhists had been the main victims.

To these may be added the Parasurama-Haihayas (Scythians) wars, Sagar's war against Haihayas and their allies (Sakas, Parthas,Pahlavas etc) the Dasarajna Wars, the Rama-Ravana Yudha, the Mahabharata war. Pococke lays special stress on the virulent religious strife for a long time between the Brahmins and the Buddhists for supremacy, leading to Brahmanic victory and the gigantic expulsion of the Buddhists. Pococke claims[23] that this was the most crucial event which compelled migrations and

The Jats:Their Origin, Antiquity and Migrations:End of page 307

banishment of the vanquished to the north-western countries. The Saga of the Kurus and Pandus, though ostensibly political was in reality, as Pococke[24] contends, a struggle between the Brahminical and the Buddhistic parties. Profound night clouds this portion on Indian history. What Pococke regards as clear is that the emigrants coasted along the shores of Mekran, traversed the mouth of Persian Gulf. Adhering to the sea-board of Oman, Hadramant and Yemen (the Eastern Arabia), they sailed up the Red Sea, and ascending the mighty stream - the Nile - that fertilizes a land of wonders, founded the kingdoms of Egypt, Nubia, Abyssinia[25] and Ethiopia. Fhilostratus, Julius Africanus, Eusebius and Syncellus, the Greek writers[26] assert that the Ethiopians were originally an Indian race, emigrated from the river Indus and settled in the vicinity of Egypt. This assertion cannot be dismissed lightly.


  1. "Nile River". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. Oloo, Adams (2007). "The Quest for Cooperation in the Nile Water Conflicts: A Case for Eritrea" (PDF). African Sociological Review 11 (1).
  3. Mohamed Helmy Mahmoud Moustafa Elsanabary"Teleconnection,
  4. "Nile". Oxford English Dictionary (3 ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press
  5. "Nile" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed., Vol. 19. 1911
  6. McLeay, Cam (July 2, 2006). "The Truth About the Source of R. Nile". New Vision.
  7. The Anabasis of Alexander/3a, ch.1, f.n.7
  8. Rudman, Peter Strom (2007). How Mathematics Happened: The First 50,000 Years. Prometheus Books. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-59102-477-4.
  9. Natural History by Pliny Book VI/Chapter 33
  10. History and study of the Jats/Chapter 2, p.31
  11. Diodorus of Sicily (published around 49 B.C.), translated by C.H. Oldfather, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1936, pp. 27-28 (Vol. II), pp. 377, 382-383 (Vol. VIII).
  12. Scythians, The Encyclopaedia Britannica, The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, 1984, pp. 438-442.
  13. James Todd Annals/Chapter 6 Genealogical history of the Rajput tribes subsequent to Vikramaditya, Vol I, pp.70-71
  14. The Arvarma of the Puranas ; the Jaxartes or Sihun. The Puranas thus describe Sakadwipa or Scythia. Diodorus (Mb. ii.) makes the Hemodus the boundary between Saka-Scythia and India Proper.
  15. Ila, the mother of the Lunar race, is the earth personified. Ertha of the Saxons ; e'pa of the Greeks ; ard in Hebrew [?].
  16. The Pali character yet exists, and appears the same as ancient fragments of the Buddha inscriptions in my possession : many letters assimilate with the Coptic.</
  17. The three great branches of the Indu (Lunar) Aswa bore the epithet of Midia (pronounced Mede), viz. Urumidha, Ajamidha, and Dvimidha. Qu. The Aswa invaders of Assyria and Media, the sons of Bajaswa, expressly stated to have multiplied in the countries west of the Indus, emigrating from their paternal seats in Panchalaka ? (Midha means ' pouring out seed, prolific,' and has no connexion with Mede, the Madai of Genesis X. 2 ; the Assyrian Mada.]
  18. Sun-worshippers, the Suryavansa.
  19. The Jats:Their Origin, Antiquity and Migrations/The identification of the Jats, pp.307-308
  20. Pococke, E; India in Greece, Indian Reprint, 1972, p. 32, 47, 134.
  21. Ibid., pp.38, 51ff, 63, 70, 124, 148, 159, 178, 195, 205, 229, 242, 251, 255,300.
  22. For further study please cf. C. Wordsworth, D.O., 'Greece, Pictorial and Descriptive; Grote, His. of Greece; Niebuh" His. of Rome; Troyer, Ramayana; Tod, Ann; Is and Antiquities of Rajasthan; Ency. Metropolitania; Smith, Muth. Lex., vol.I Homer, Odessey, Iliad; Asiatic Researches; Mure, His. of Greek Literatura, . Vol.I; Strabo's Geographia; Wilson, skt. Les.; Kruse, Hellas; Smith, Dic. of Astiq.; Hamilton E, Ind. Gaz., Vol.I; Thoronton, Geog. of Ph.; Thirliwall, His. of Greece; Thueydide, Genesis and App. No. XX in Pococke's Ind. in Greece
  23. Ibid., Chs VI-XV
  24. Ibid., p. 300. Dr. Buddha Prakash describes the Epic war as the 'Saga of the Sakas'.
  25. Ibid., p.43
  26. Ibid., p. 205.