The rivers of Dinajpur, which are flowing from the north to the south, have their ultimate destination either to the mighty Brahmaputra or to the Ganges. We have got several rivers like, Atrai or Atrayee, Punarbhava, Tangon, Karatoa, etc. are all now mostly dead during the dry season. In the rainy season, somehow they manage, to get some current, if the rain is plenty, otherwise they are fordable, almost throughout their course across the district.
These rivers gradually become shallow, as they contain lack of currents all around the year. There are small khals and streams fall into these rivers, finds small boats travelling in the barsha mousum, but they are not surely for the purpose of communication.
The river Atrai enters in Bangladesh in the north-east of near the villages of Joyganj and flowing southwards passes through the thanas of Debiganj, Birganj, Khanshama and Chirir Bandar, from north to the south.
A short distance to the east of Kantanagar, the Atrai throws out from its western bank a branch called the Gabura or Garveswari which passing close to the town of Dinajpur rejoins the main stream near Kawgaon after a course of about 15 miles. About 5 miles below the offshoot of the Gabura the river throws off from its opposite or east bank another branch called the Kankra, which also rejoins the parent stream a little above Samjhia-Ghat from where it enters India. The important mart of Chirirbandar, which stands on the left bank of the Kankra.
During its course through the district the Atrai is joined by several small streams of which the old Atrai and the Ichhamati on its eastern bank are the most important. Both these rivers enter the district to the east of Khansama.The Ichhamati river passes through Chirirbandar thana and enters South Dinajpur (India) and meets the Atrai.
It is said that the present Atrayee was at one time the main channel of the Tista, but in 1787-88 this latter river changed its course and made its way to the Brahmanputra through the Rangpur district, thereby greatly diminishing the volume of water passing through the Atrai and its sister channels the Jamuna and the Karatoya. since those days the importance of the Atrai has suffered still further diminution from a tendency to slit up noticeable in many Bengal rivers, the action of which has been hastened by the raising of the level of the river-bed in the earthquake of 1897. notwithstanding, it is still the most important river in the district, and during the rains cariies a considerable export trade in grain. Its channel is wide, shallow and sandy, and its stream is sluggish. During the rainy season it is navigable for large boats throughout its course in the Dinajpur district. During the rest of the year it is fordable
The Karatoya is one the old channels of the Tista and forms the eastern boundary of the district for that 50 miles, separating it from Rangpur and finally passing into the latter district at the extreme south-eastern corner of Dinajpur. The course of this river is tortuous in the extreme. So many modifications have taken place in its channel, and the name has changed so often that it is a matter of great difficulty to race its exact course. It is, however, generally accepted under one name or another as forming the boundary of the two districts. Sir William Hunter rightly described this part of the country as a maze of old water-courses and stagnant marshes. An old branch of the river, sometimes called the Kalanadhi or Moranadi, which was once the main stream, passes close to the village of Nawabganj, where the thana of that name is situated on its banks. The old channel spreads out into a large beel, a few miles north of Nawabganj, and is almost stagnant. It is deep and muddy in places , and elsewhere shallow and sandy. This channel as well as the main channel is navigable by medium sized country boats during the rains. The principal places on the banks of the Karatoya are Nawabganj and Ghoraghat under Dinajpur District.
The Karatoya has no important tributary on the Dinajpur side, but east of Nawabganj it is joined by a considerable stream, the Khorubuja, from Rangpur.
There is some doubt as to whether the Atrai or the Karatoya was originally the main stream of the Tista but there is evidence to show that latter, shrunken as it now is, was at one time a very considerable river. According to Sir William Hunter, “It formed the boundary between The Bengal and Kamrup kingdoms at the times of the Mahabharata”.
the tangan rises in the high land of northern piedmont, passes west of Panchagarh, south of Tetulia and flows southward by the east of Ruhea. It then enters into Gangarampur Subdivision (South Dinajpur,India), just west of Biral and flowing further south enters then flows through Bangladesh, to join the Punarvhaba river. The combined water then flows through Bangladesh parallel to the International Boundary and meets the Mahananda river near Rohanpur (Chapai Nababganj). The channel of this river is rather narrow, with steep banks and is sandy in its upper reaches. During the rains fair-sized country boats can come up almost as far as the headquarters of the Thakurgaon District, which is situated on its left bank. This river is connected about the centre of the Thakurgaon district, with the punarbhaba by a rather interesting canal called the Ram Dara said to have been constructed by Raja Ramnath of Dinajpur as a means of communication between two of his country seats Gobindanagar and Prannagar.
the principal tributaries of the Tangan are the Ghoramara, a small streamlet rising near Ruhea, and joining the Tangan at Mandalpara, a few miles below Thakurgaon, and the Tutai, which, rising in the jurisdiction of Pirganj, and passing through the small mart of Biral, joins the Tangan in Banshihari thana in South Dinajpur(India).
The purnarbhaba originates from the low-lying areas near Deoli in Thakurgaon District town and follows a meandering course to the south up to Chak-Kanchan near Dinajpur District town., where it joins the Dhepa river, an offshoot channel of Atrai (Boori Tista). Notwithstanding the fact that the Dhepa in the larger river the name of Punarbhaba is given to the combined streams from this pint onwards. The river then flows south-west and enters into Indian territory near Soondara. The Punarvhaba is navigable by country boats during the rain as far as its junction with the Dhepa and even higher. At other times of the year its upper reaches are shallow and easily fordable, but during its course through the Dhepa its channel narrows and deepens and is never fordable even in the height of the dry season. The Dinajpur town in Bangladesh and Gangarampur(South Dinajpur,India)is situated on its left bank.
The Chhota Dhepa takes its rise in a marsh called Sasetapiyata in Thakurgaon, a few miles north of the source of the Punarbhaba. Entering Birganj it is connected near the thana headquarters with the Atrai by a canal called the Malijol, presently called as the Dhepa. The canal was dug by a local chief name Saadat Ali. This canal used to carry a considerable volume of water before 1787-88 (the year in which the Tista, of which the Atrai is a branch, changed its course), but it now silted up, like Chhota Dhepa itself and is navigable for large boats only during the rains. The combined flow of Chhota Dhepa and the Dhepa which spills the Arai flows in the south-easterly direction. Near Setabganj it takes a turn to the south and flows in a meandering course only palces worth mentioning on its banks are Birganj, the thana headquarters and Kantanagar where the famous Kantaji Temple is resided. The bed of the river is broad, sandy and shallow. When it is in flood boats can sometimes get up as high as Birganj. In the dry season it is easily fordable anywhere.