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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Gaṇdaki literally means ‘that which has flown from the cheeks’.

Gaṇḍakī is the same modern river Gaṇḍak. As per the accounts in Varāhapurāna,[1] it gets its name from the fact that it was formed from the sweat on the cheeks of Mahāviṣṇu.[2] River's other names are:

  1. Sālagrāmī
  2. Saptagaṇḍakī
  3. Nārāyaṇī

It rises in the Himalayas, passes through Nepal and joins the river Gaṅgā at Sonepur in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar. Its total length is 300 kms. (192 miles).

It is said that when the river goddess asked for a boon, Viṣṇu said he would always reside in her in the form of śālagrāma stones. The part of the river which flows in Nepal near Muktinātha, abounds in these stones. These stones are considered as emblems of Viṣṇu and accounted as extremely holy.


  1. Varāhapurāna chapter 144
  2. Gaṇḍa means cheek.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore