Unable to post on a daily basis so will do periodically and spasmodically. Water levels drop perceptibly and mostly foggy mornings, so fewer hours of paddling each day. On day 15 we reach the confluence with the Ghagra (Karnali ( which comes from to Tibet)) and the river is much bigger now. We see many dolphins every day now, up to 16, and see only Gharial crocs who are a lot better looking than the Muggers. Our fabled MSR stove chokes up. A newer fancier model that we never dismantled before. We make it to the 100 year old Elgin bridge at Bheramghat also called the Ghagra Ghat.
Late start again due to thick fog on the river. We need visibility of at least 100 meters to be able to choose the deeper channel and read the flow. A barrage employee tells us that they will shut the last gate of the barrage sometime today to divert all flows into the canal, and will open gates to allow water in the river only in April. All we will get is leakage from under the gates, so we should make haste to reach the Ghagra mainstream. We leave as soon. As the mists lift but even so see the water level fall rapidly. We paddle hard and reach sargada village by sunset. A woman who sees us land informs the village that ‘terrrists’ have arrived and we spend all evening, some of the night and next morning explaining to a multitude. There are some fishermen who hunt on moonless nights with lights and a trident harpoon. Dolphins hunt in cooperation with them. We were warned by many there of an isolated pack off wolves there numbering anywhere between 12 and 20. We sleep, hearing no visitors at night.
We paddle from the pontoon bridge to the barrage at sardanagar. It is a massive barrage, linking supplementary flows from the Ghagra or karnali river to the canal network of the Sharda. This canal alone carries over 17,000 cusecs of water. The day they carried 23,000 cusecs they put up a celebratory plaque. The stilled waters behind the barrage is huge and deep, with a beautiful reed forest that we wind through to reach a village of Bengali fisherpeople. There are dolphins here and the crocs eat up their ducks, they tell us. They are very friendly people and they help us carry our boat over the barrage. We camp on a sand beach not far, we realised next morning, from a turdfield.
6th Dec. Foggy morning, we are woken by some young men who have brought sugarcane leaves to warm us with a bonfire and swap tales. Talk to fishermen and learn of a stunning variety of fish that they catch here. Tiny swordfish, transparent glass fish, giant catfish, water skippers, amphibious fish, eels and even one like an angelfish which has a sting like a scorpion if stepped on. Listed 34 species. Warned not to stop before the next three villages or we may get robbed. At sunset we have no choice but to stay opposite one of those villages. Not robbed. But today, we got played with by a dolphin. It bumped our bow and rocked our boat, and splashed us thrice with its tail dousing us thoroughly, camera and all! Saw two other dolphins that day.
Enforced rest day and drying out all our stuff. We speak to many people both at the river bank and at the village, and talk more about the floods, the fish and farming. We catch some shrimps and a tortoise to photograph and eat some minnows that a fisherman left us for dinner, refusing money. Also told is dolphin sightings a few days ago