PHYSICAL ASPECTS 27
unite until they have traversed the plains for some distance, when they
flow into the valley of the Ganges.
The central division has been called by the Nepalese from time
immemorial the Sapt Gandaki, or I country of the seven Gandaks,' from
the seven streams which, uniting, form the main river. By these the
whole country between Dhaulagiri and Gosainthan is drained. The
most important of them is the most easterly, the Trisulganga. They
all unite before breaking through the hills at TribenL
The eastern division is similarly known as the Sapt Kosi, or I country
of the seven Kosis,' of which the most important is the San Kosi.
After leaving the hills at Chatra, the Kosi becomes a very broad river.
It is said that in places its bed is above the level of the surrounding
country, in consequence of which it is constantly overflowing its banks,
altering its channel, and causing widespread destruction of crops and
Besides these three great geographical divisions, there is a fourth, of
comparatively limited extent, but historically and economically the most
important, for it contains the Valley of Nepal proper, with Katmandu,
the capital of the kingdom. This district occupies an isolated tract
between the basins of the Gandak and the Kosi, and is formed by the
bifurcation of the ridge running south from Gosainthan. It is a gently
undulating plain of nearly oval shape, having an average length from
north to south of about 20 miles, and an average width Of 12 to
14 miles; and it lies 4,700 feet above the level of the sea. It covers
about 250 square miles, and is surrounded on all sides by mountains
which rise to a height Of 7,000 to 9,ooo feet. The valley is abundantly
watered and drained by a small river, the Baghmati, which rises on the
northern slopes of Sheopuri, the highest mountain forming its northern
limit. In its course through the valley the Baghmati receives innumer-
able smaller streams, the most important of which is the Vishnumati.
The narrow gorge where the united waters leave the valley, Pherping,
is the only break in the enclosing circle of mountains. According to
ancient Hindu traditions, what is now the Valley of Nepal was once
a large and deep lake, and from a geological point of view this theory
is possible. The general surface is broken up into a succession of more
or less extensive plateaux.
Nepal generally is devoid of lakes, though it is said that several exist
in the province of Pokhra situated to the west of the Nepal Valley.
The scenery of Nepal, as may be gathered from the description of its
physical features, is of an exceedingly diversified nature. Skirting the
British frontier is the Tarai. This tract, as already stated, lies at the
foot of the hills, on a level with the adjoining plains of India. It may
be divided into two portions: the open country under cultivation, and
primaeval jungle. The latter varies much in character. For the most
VOL. XIX. C