Indus River System

Indus River System is made of Indus River and its tributaries viz. Ravi, Beas, Satluj, Jhelam, Kishenganga (Neelum) and Chenab.

The important facts about the rivers are as follows:

Indus River

  • Indus River originates in Tibet in northern slopes of Mount Kailash near lake Mansarovar. Running via Ladakh, it enters into Pakistan through Gilgit-Baltistan and ends in Arabian Sea near Karachi.
  • The total length of the river is 3,180 kilometers, making it Pakistan’s longest river and world’s 21st largest river in terms of annual flow. The river basin is 11,165,000 square kilometers.
  • Several tributaries of Indus River in Pakistan side are Nagar River, Astor River, Balram River, Dras River, Gar River, Ghizar River, Gilgit River, Gumal River Kabul River, Kurram River, Panjnad River, Shigar River, Shyok River, Sohan River, Tanubal River, Zanskar River etc.
  • On the eastern side, portion of it does run through Indian territory, as do parts of the courses of its five major tributaries viz. Beas, Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi and Sutlej. These tributaries are the source of the name of the Punjab region.

Beas River

  • Originates in the southern slopes of Pir Panjal ranges near Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh.
  • It flows south past Manali and through the Kullu Valley before entering the Punjab plains. It meets the Sutlej River near the Harike Wetland south of Amritsar. The Sutlej continues into Pakistani Punjab and joins the Chenab River at Uch near Bahawalpur to form the Panjnad River; the latter in turn joins the Indus River at Mithankot. So, originating in India and running for 470 kilometers, the river meets Sutlej in Punjab of India.
  • The river is of Historic, known as Arjikuja and Vipasa in ancient times and Hyphasis to ancient Greeks.
  • Some of the tributaries of the river Beas are as
    • Parbati which rises in the snowy wastes above Manikaran. It joins the river Beas near Shamshi in the Kulu valley;
    • Haria which joins the river Beas near Bhuntar;
    • Sainj which rises in the snows of an off-shoot of the Pir Panjal range that marks the watershed of the Seas and Satluj rivers. It joins the river Beas near Larji;
    • Tirthan which rises in the snows of an off-shoot of the Pir Panjal range. It joins the river Beas near Larji.

Jhelum River

  • Jhelum rises from northern slopes of Pir Panjal ranges at Verinag spring (which is main source) which girdles the valley of Kashmir. It flows through Srinagar and the Wular Lake before entering Pakistan through a deep narrow gorge.
  • The Kishenganga (Neelum) River, the largest tributary of the Jhelum, joins it, at Domel Muzaffarabad. The Jhelum enters the Punjab in the Jhelum District. From there, it flows through the plains of Pakistan’s Punjab, forming the boundary between the Chaj and Sindh Sagar Doabs.
  • It ends in a confluence with the Chenab at Trimmu in District Jhang. The Chenab merges with the Sutlej to form the Panjnad River which joins the Indus River at Mithankot. Thus, In India it flows on in Jammu & Kashmir State.
  • Jhelam is the largest and most western of the five rivers of Punjab. Chenab is its tributary. It was called Vitasta in Rigveda and Hydaspes by the ancient Greeks. Alexander the Great and his army crossed the Jhelum in BC 326 at the Battle of the Hydaspes River where it is believed that he defeated the Indian king, Porus.
  • Verinag is situated at a distance of approximately 80 km from Srinagar. Considered to be the source of the River Jhelum, often termed as the lifeline of the province of Jammu and Kashmir, the beautiful region of Verinag a weekend getaway from Srinagar. The important dams and barrages on Jhelam river are Mangla Dam, Rasul Barrage, Trimmu Barrage.
  • Its major tributaries are –
    • Liddar which originates in the snowy wastes at Chandanwari. It joins the river Jhelum in the central pan of the Kashmir valley;
    • Sind River which originates in the southern slopes of the great Himalayan range which hems the Kashmir valley;
    • Kishenganga which also originates on the southern slopes of the great Himalayan range.

Chenab River

  • Chenab River was called Ashkini in Vedic times. It originates at snow melt from the Bara Lacha Pass in the Himachal Pradesh. The waters flowing south from the pass are known as the Chandra River and those that flow north are called the Bhaga River. Eventually the Bhaga flows around to the south joining the Chandra at the village of Tandi, forming the Chandrbhaga River at Tandi.
  • It becomes the Chenab when it joins the Marau River at Bhandera Kot, 12 km from Kishtwar Town in Jammu and Kashmir. It flows in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, then Pakistan Province of Punjab and merges with Jhelum River at Trimmu, Ravi River Ahmedpur Sialand Sutlej River near Uch Sharif, Pakistan to form the Panjnad or the ‘Five Rivers’, the fifth being the Beas River which joins the Satluj near Ferozepur, India. The Chenab then joins the Indus at Mithankot, Pakistan.
  • The total length of the Chenab is approximately 960 kilometres.The waters of the Chenab are allocated to Pakistan under the terms of the Indus Waters Treaty. It was known as Acesines to the Ancient Greeks.

Ravi River

  • The Ravi or Iravati or Purushni of ancient India is smallest of Five Punjab Rivers. It originates in Bara Bhangal, District Kangra in Himachal Pradesh and gets hemmed by Dhauladhar range in the south and the Pir Panjal in the north. It originates in Bara Bangahal as a joint stream formed by:
    • The Bhadal. which is fed by glaciers.
    • The Tant Gari, which is also fed by glaciers.
  • The river Ravi flows in more or less westerly direction before it cuts across the Dhauladhar range to enter the plains of Punjab. Its main northern bank tributaries are the snow fed Siul and Baira streams. It follows a north-westerly course, flows through Barabhangal, Bara Bansu and Chamba districts. It flows in rapids in its initial reaches with boulders seen scattered in the bed of the river. The Budhil River, in Himachal Pradesh is a major tributary of the Ravi River. Another major tributary that joins the Ravi River, just below Bharmour, the old capital of Chamba, is the Seul River from the northern direction.
  • The valley formed by the river was also exploited for its rich timber trees. However, the valley has large terraces, which are very fertile and known as “the garden of Chamba”. crops grown here supply grains to the capital region and to Dalhousie town and its surrounding areas. One more major tributary that joins the Ravi River near Bissoli is the Siawa. It enters the Punjab plain near Madhopur and Pathankot. It then flows along the Indo–Pak border for80 kilometres (50 mi) before entering Pakistan and joining the Chenab River. The total length of the river is about 725 kilometres.
  • Since this river flows at the boundary of India and Pakistan, studies have shown that the river is changing its course towards India due to heavy constructions in its way by Pakistan.

Sutlej River

  • Sutlej River was known as Śutudri in ancient India and is longest of the five rivers of Punjab. It originates near Lake Rakshastal in Tibet. It flows for a considerable distance before entering Indian Territory near Shipki La. Thereafter, it drains past the trans-Himalayan zone of Spiti. The major tributary which joins the river Satluj in this tract is the river Spiti. This tributary rises on the northern slopes of the great Himalayan range which hems the Lahaul and Spiti valleys. It drains the latter valley and flows in a eastern and south westerly direction before joining the river Satluj. The river Satluj has cut across the great Himalayan range through a deep gorge.
  • Just upstream of this gorge, it is joined by the river Baspa which drains the north eastern part of Himachal Pradesh. After crossing the great Himalayan range, the river Satluj flows in a more or less S W direction before emerging into the plains near Bhakra. In Pakistan, it waters the ancient and historical former Bahawalpur state. The region to its south and east is arid, and is known as Cholistan, is a part of Bahawalpur Division.
  • The Sutlej is joined by the Beas River in Hari-Ke-Patan, Amritsar, Punjāb, India, and continues southwest into Pakistan to unite with the Chenab River, forming the Panjnad River near Bahawalpur. The Panjnad joins the Indus River at Mithankot. Indus then flows through a gorge near Sukkur, flows through the fertile plains region of Sindh, and terminates in the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in Pakistan.The waters of the Sutlej are allocated to India under the Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan, and are mostly diverted to irrigation canals in India.
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