This paper attempts to analyse the river names of the Nepal Valley from an ethnolinguistic perspective. The river is an unmistakeable element in the topography of any settlement, more so in agricultural settlements where the river may be their life-line. River names are, therefore, an important index to the linguistic, cultural and above all, ethnographic history of a settlement.
Ancient river names of the Nepal Valley are examined in this paper as evidence of prehistoric ethnic contacts between the aborigines and Indo-Aryan immigrants. Different strata of river names are documented as evidence of the process of cultural absorption or Sanskritisation.