Indus River (also called the Sindhū or Abāsīn) is one of the
longest rivers in Asia. Originating in the
Tibetan Plateau in the
Lake Manasarovar (China), the river runs a course through
Ladakh region of
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir (India), towards
Gilgit-Baltistan and the Hindukush ranges, and then flows in a
southerly direction along the entire length of
Pakistan to merge into
Arabian Sea near the port city of
Karachi in Sindh. It is
the longest river and national river of Pakistan.
The river has a total drainage area exceeding 1,165,000 km2
(450,000 sq mi). Its estimated annual flow stands at around
243 km3 (58 cu mi), twice that of the
Nile River and
three times that of the
Euphrates rivers combined, making
it the twenty-first largest river in the world in terms of annual
flow. The Zanskar is its left bank tributary in Ladakh. In the
plains, its left bank tributary is the
Panjnad which itself has five
major tributaries, namely, the Chenab, Jhelum, the Ravi, the Beas, and
the Sutlej. Its principal right bank tributaries are the Shyok, the
Gilgit, the Kabul, the Gomal, and the Kurram. Beginning in a mountain
spring and fed with glaciers and rivers in the Himalayas, the river
supports ecosystems of temperate forests, plains and arid countryside.
The northern part of the Indus Valley, with its tributaries, forms the
Punjab region, while the lower course of the Indus is known as Sindh
and ends in a large delta. The river has historically been important
to many cultures of the region. The 3rd millennium BC saw the rise of
a major urban civilization of the Bronze Age. During the 2nd
millennium BC, the
Punjab region was mentioned in the hymns of the
Sapta Sindhu and the Zoroastrian
Avesta as Hapta
Hindu (both terms meaning "seven rivers"). Early historical kingdoms
that arose in the Indus Valley include Gandhāra, and the Ror dynasty
of Sauvīra. The
Indus River came into the knowledge of the West early
in the Classical Period, when King Darius of
Persia sent his Greek
Scylax of Caryanda to explore the river, ca. 515 BC.
1 Etymology and names
1.1 Indus and the name of India
Rigveda and the Indus
1.3 Other names
10 Modern issues
10.1 Effects of climate change on the river
10.3 2010 floods
10.4 2011 floods
11 Barrages, bridges and dams
12 See also
14 External links
Etymology and names
This river was known to the ancient Indians in Sanskrit as Sindhu,
which is literally interpreted to mean "large body of water, sea, or
ocean". The Proto-Iranian sound change *s > h occurred between
850–600 BCE, according to Asko Parpola, causing its Avestan name
to become Hendu, From Iran, the name passed to the
Greeks as Indós
("Ἰνδός") and to the Romans as Indus. The Persian name for the
river was Darya, which similarly has the connotations of large body
of water and sea.
However, linguists state that the original meaning of Sindhu/
not a body of water, but rather a frontier or bank. The Indus river
formed the frontier between the
Iranian peoples and Indo-Aryan
Other variants of the name Sindhu include Assyrian Sinda (as early as
the 7th century BC), Persian Ab-e-sind, Pashtun Abasind, Arab Al-Sind,
Chinese Sintow, and Javanese Santri.
Indus and the name of India
India is a Greek and Latin term for "the country of the River Indus".
Elsewhere, the Pakistani province of
Sindh also owes its name to the
river (Sanskrit Sindhu).
Megasthenes's book Indica derives its name from the river's Greek
name, "Indós" (Ἰνδός), and describes Nearchus's contemporaneous
account of how
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great crossed the river. The ancient
Greeks referred to the Indians (people of present-day northwest India
and Pakistan) as "Indói" (Ἰνδοί), literally meaning "the people
of the Indus".
Rigveda and the Indus
Rigveda also describes several mythical rivers, including one named
"Sindhu". The Rigvedic "Sindhu" is thought to be the present-day Indus
river and is attested 176 times in its text – 95 times in the
plural, more often used in the generic meaning. In the Rigveda,
notably in the later hymns, the meaning of the word is narrowed to
refer to the Indus river in particular, as in the list of rivers
mentioned in the hymn of Nadistuti sukta. The Rigvedic hymns apply a
feminine gender to all the rivers mentioned therein but "Sindhu" is
the only river attributed the masculine gender which means Sindhu is
the warrior and greatest amoung all other rivers in whole world
In other languages of the region, the river is known as
सिन्धु (Sindhu) in Hindi and Nepali, سنڌو (Sindhu) in
Sindhi, سندھ (Sindh) in
Shahmukhi Punjabi, ਸਿੰਧ
Sindh Nadī) in
Gurmukhī Punjabi, اباسين (Abāsin
lit. "Father of Rivers") in Pashto, نهر السند (Nahar al-Sind)
in Arabic, སེང་གེ་གཙང་པོ། (seng ge gtsang
po lit. "Lion River" or Lion Spring) in Tibetan, 印度 (Yìndù) in
Chinese, and Nilab in Turki.
Babur crossing the Indus River.
Indus River provides key water resources for Pakistan's economy
– especially the breadbasket of
Punjab province, which accounts for
most of the nation's agricultural production, and Sindh. The word
Punjab means "land of five rivers" and the five rivers are Jhelum,
Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, all of which finally flow into the
Indus. The Indus also supports many heavy industries and provides the
main supply of potable water in Pakistan.
The ultimate source of the Indus is in Tibet; the river begins at the
confluence of the
Sengge Zangbo and
Gar Tsangpo rivers that drain the
Nganglong Kangri and Gangdise Shan (Gang Rinpoche, Mt. Kailas)
mountain ranges. The Indus then flows northwest through
Baltistan into Gilgit, just south of the
Karakoram range. The Shyok,
Gilgit rivers carry glacial waters into the main river. It
gradually bends to the south, coming out of the hills between Peshawar
and Rawalpindi. The Indus passes gigantic gorges 4,500–5,200 metres
(15,000–17,000 feet) deep near the
Nanga Parbat massif. It flows
swiftly across Hazara and is dammed at the Tarbela Reservoir. The
Kabul River joins it near Attock. The remainder of its route to the
sea is in the plains of the Punjab and Sindh, where the flow of
the river becomes slow and highly braided. It is joined by the Panjnad
at Mithankot. Beyond this confluence, the river, at one time, was
named the Satnad River (sat = "seven", nadī = "river"), as the river
now carried the waters of the Kabul River, the
Indus River and the
Punjab rivers. Passing by Jamshoro, it ends in a large delta to
the east of Thatta.
The Indus is one of the few rivers in the world to exhibit a tidal
bore. The Indus system is largely fed by the snows and glaciers of the
Karakoram and the
Hindu Kush ranges of Tibet, the Indian
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir and
Himachal Pradesh and Gilgit-Baltistan
region of Pakistan. The flow of the river is also determined by the
seasons – it diminishes greatly in the winter, while flooding its
banks in the monsoon months from July to September. There is also
evidence of a steady shift in the course of the river since
prehistoric times – it deviated westwards from flowing into the Rann
Kutch and adjoining
Banni grasslands after the 1816
earthquake. Presently, Indus water flows in to the Rann of
Kutch during its floods breaching flood banks.
The traditional source of the river is the Senge Khabab or "Lion's
Mouth", a perennial spring, not far from the sacred Mount Kailash
marked by a long low line of Tibetan chortens. There are several other
tributaries nearby, which may possibly form a longer stream than Senge
Khabab, but unlike the Senge Khabab, are all dependent on snowmelt.
The Zanskar River, which flows into the Indus in Ladakh, has a greater
volume of water than the Indus itself before that point.
That night in the tent [next to Senge Khabab] I ask Sonmatering which
of the Indus tributaries which we crossed this morning is the longest.
All of them, he says, start at least a day's walk away from here. The
Bukhar begins near the village of Yagra. The Lamolasay's source is in
a holy place: there is a monastery there. The Dorjungla is a very
difficult and long walk, three days perhaps, and there are many sharp
rocks; but its water is clear and blue, hence the tributary's other
name, Zom-chu, which Karma Lama translates as "Blue Water". The
Rakmajang rises from a dark lake called the Black Sea.
One of the longest tributaries – and thus a candidate for the
river's technical source – is the Kla-chu, the river we crossed
yesterday by bridge. Also known as the Lungdep Chu, it flows into the
Indus from the south-east, and rises a day's walk from Darchen. But
Sonamtering insists that the Dorjungla is the longest of the "three
types of water" that fall into the Seng Tsanplo ["Lion River" or
Extent and major sites of the
Indus Valley Civilisation
Indus Valley Civilisation 3000 BC
Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization and History of Sindh
The major cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation, such as
Mohenjo-daro, date back to around 3300 BC, and represent some of
the largest human habitations of the ancient world. The Indus Valley
Civilisation extended from across northeast
Afghanistan to Pakistan
and northwest India, with an upward reach from east of Jhelum
Ropar on the upper Sutlej. The coastal settlements extended
Sutkagan Dor at the Pakistan,
Iran border to
Kutch in modern
Gujarat, India. There is an Indus site on the
Amu Darya at Shortughai
in northern Afghanistan, and the Indus site
Alamgirpur at the Hindon
River is located only 28 km (17 mi) from Delhi. To date,
over 1,052 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the
general region of the
Ghaggar-Hakra River and its tributaries. Among
the settlements were the major urban centres of
Mohenjo-daro, as well as Lothal, Dholavira, Ganeriwala, and
Rakhigarhi. Only 90–96 of more than 800 known Indus Valley sites
have been discovered on the Indus and its tributaries.[citation
needed] The Sutlej, now a tributary of the Indus, in Harappan times
flowed into the Ghaggar-Hakra River, in the watershed of which were
more Harappan sites than along the Indus.
Most scholars believe that settlements of
Gandhara grave culture of
Indo-Aryans flourished in
Gandhara from 1700 BC to
600 BC, when
Harappa had already been abandoned.
The word "India" is derived from the Indus River. In ancient times,
"India" initially referred to those regions immediately along the east
bank of the Indus, but by 300 BC, Greek writers including
Megasthenes were applying the term to the entire
subcontinent that extends much farther eastward.
The lower basin of the Indus forms a natural boundary between the
Iranian Plateau and the Indian subcontinent; this region embraces all
or parts of the Pakistani provinces Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,
Sindh and the countries
Afghanistan and India. It was
crossed by the invading armies of Alexander, but after his Macedonians
conquered the west bank—joining it to the Hellenic Empire, they
elected to retreat along the southern course of the river, ending
Alexander's Asian campaign. The Indus plains were later dominated by
Persian empire and then the Kushan empire. Over several centuries
Muslim armies of Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmud of Ghazni, Mohammed Ghori,
Babur crossed the river to invade the inner regions of
Punjab and points farther south and east
Indus River near Leh, Ladakh, India
Indus River viewed from the
Indus River near Leh, India, 2014
Confluence of Indus and Zanskar rivers. The Indus is at the bottom of
the picture, flowing left-to-right; the Zanskar, carrying more water,
comes in from the middle left of the picture.
The Indus river feeds the Indus submarine fan, which is the second
largest sediment body on the Earth. It consists of around
5 million cubic kilometres of material eroded from the mountains.
Studies of the sediment in the modern river indicate that the
Karakoram Mountains in northern
India are the single most
important source of material, with the
Himalayas providing the next
largest contribution, mostly via the large rivers of the Punjab
(Jhelum, Ravi, Chenab, Beas and Sutlej). Analysis of sediments from
Arabian Sea has demonstrated that prior to five million years ago
the Indus was not connected to these
Punjab rivers which instead
flowed east into the
Ganges and were captured after that time.
Earlier work showed that sand and silt from western
Tibet was reaching
Arabian Sea by 45 million years ago, implying the existence
of an ancient
Indus River by that time. The delta of this
proto-Indus river has subsequently been found in the Katawaz Basin, on
Nanga Parbat region, the massive amounts of erosion due to the
Indus river following the capture and rerouting through that area is
thought to bring middle and lower crustal rocks to the surface.
In November 2011, satellite images showed that the Indus river had
re-entered India, feeding Great Rann of Kutch, Little Rann of Kutch
and a lake near
Ahmedabad known as Nal Sarovar. Heavy rains had
left the river basin along with the Lake Manchar, Lake Hemal and Kalri
Lake (all in modern-day Pakistan) inundated. This happened two
centuries after the Indus river shifted its course westwards following
Rann of Kutch
Rann of Kutch earthquake.
Induan Age at start of the
Triassic Period of geological time is
named for the Indus region.
Footbridge on the
Indus River in Pakistan
Fishermen on the Indus River, c. 1905
Accounts of the Indus valley from the times of Alexander's campaign
indicate a healthy forest cover in the region, which has now
considerably receded. The Mughal Emperor
Babur writes of encountering
rhinoceroses along its bank in his memoirs (the Baburnama). Extensive
deforestation and human interference in the ecology of the Shivalik
Hills has led to a marked deterioration in vegetation and growing
conditions. The Indus valley regions are arid with poor vegetation.
Agriculture is sustained largely due to irrigation works. The Indus
river and its watershed has a rich biodiversity. It is home to around
25 amphibian species and 147 species, 22 of which are only found in
Indus River Dolphin
Indus River Dolphin (Platanista indicus minor) is a
sub-species of dolphin found only in the Indus River. It formerly also
occurred in the tributaries of the Indus river. According to the World
Wildlife Fund it is one of the most threatened cetaceans with only
about 1,000 still existing.
Tenualosa ilisha of the river is a delicacy for people
living along the river. The population of fish in the river is
moderately high, with Sukkur,
Kotri being the major fishing
centres – all in the lower
Sindh course. But damming and irrigation
has made fish farming an important economic activity. Located
southeast of Karachi, the large delta has been recognised by
conservationists as one of the world's most important ecological
regions. Here the river turns into many marshes, streams and creeks
and meets the sea at shallow levels. Here marine fishes are found in
abundance, including pomfret and prawns.
The Indus is the most important supplier of water resources to the
Sindh plains – it forms the backbone of agriculture and
food production in Pakistan. The river is especially critical since
rainfall is meagre in the lower Indus valley. Irrigation canals were
first built by the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation, and later
by the engineers of the
Kushan Empire and the Mughal Empire. Modern
irrigation was introduced by the British East
India Company in 1850
– the construction of modern canals accompanied with the restoration
of old canals. The British supervised the construction of one of the
most complex irrigation networks in the world. The
Guddu Barrage is
1,350 m (4,430 ft) long – irrigating Sukkur, Jacobabad,
Larkana and Kalat. The
Sukkur Barrage serves over 20,000 km2
(7,700 sq mi).
Pakistan came into existence, a water control treaty signed
Pakistan in 1960 guaranteed that
receive water from the
Indus River and its two tributaries the Jhelum
River & the
Chenab River independently of upstream control by
Indus Basin Project
Indus Basin Project consisted primarily of the construction of two
main dams, the
Mangla Dam built on the
Jhelum River and the Tarbela
Dam constructed on the Indus River, together with their subsidiary
Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority undertook
the construction of the Chashma-Jhelum link canal – linking the
waters of the Indus and Jhelum rivers – extending water supplies to
the regions of
Bahawalpur and Multan.
Pakistan constructed the Tarbela
Rawalpindi – standing 2,743 metres (9,000 ft) long and
143 metres (470 ft) high, with an 80-kilometre (50 mi) long
Kotri Barrage near Hyderabad is 915 metres
(3,000 ft) long and provides additional supplies for Karachi. It
support the Chashma barrage near
Dera Ismail Khan
Dera Ismail Khan use for irrigation
and flood control. for The
Taunsa Barrage near Dera Ghazi Khan
produces 100,000 kilowatts of electricity. The extensive linking
of tributaries with the Indus has helped spread water resources to the
valley of Peshawar, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The extensive
irrigation and dam projects provide the basis for Pakistan's large
production of crops such as cotton, sugarcane and wheat. The dams also
generate electricity for heavy industries and urban centres.
Indus River near Skardu, in Gilgit–Baltistan.
The Dubair Khwarr, a tributary of the Indus, near Shaikhdara, in
The inhabitants of the regions are mainly
Pakistan is an
Islamic country through which the Indus river passes and forms a major
natural feature and resource are diverse in ethnicity, religion,
national and linguistic backgrounds. On the northern course of the
river in the state of
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir in India, live the Buddhist
people of Ladakh, of Tibetan stock, and the
Dards of Indo-Aryan or
Dardic stock and practising Islam. Then it descends into Baltistan,
Pakistan passing the main Balti city of Skardu. A river from
Dubair Bala also drains into it at Dubair Bazar. People living in this
area are mainly Kohistani and speak the Kohistani language. Major
areas through which the Indus river passes in Kohistan are Dasu,
Pattan and Dubair. As it continues through Pakistan, the Indus river
forms a distinctive boundary of ethnicity and cultures – upon the
western banks the population is largely Pashtun, Baloch, and of other
Iranian stock. The eastern banks are largely populated by people of
Indo-Aryan stock, such as the
Punjabis and the Sindhis. In northern
Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, ethnic Pashtun tribes live
alongside Dardic people in the hills (Khowar, Kalash, Shina, etc.),
Burushos (in Hunza), and Punjabi people.
The people living along the Indus river speak Punjabi and Sindhi on
the eastern side (in
Sindh provinces respectively), Pushto
plus Balochi as well as Barohi (in Khyber Pakhtoonkha and Baluchistan
provinces). In the province of Sindh, the upper third of the river is
inhabited by people speaking Saraiki; which is a somewhat transitional
dialect of the Punjabi and Sindhi languages.
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Satellite images of the upper
Indus River valley, comparing
water-levels on 1 August 2009 (top) and 31 July 2010 (bottom)
The Indus is a strategically vital resource for Pakistan's economy and
India declared Independence from the
British Raj, also known as Indian Empire, the use of the waters of the
Indus and its five eastern tributaries became a major dispute between
India and Pakistan. The irrigation canals of the
Sutlej valley and the
Bari Doab were split – with the canals lying primarily in Pakistan
and the headwork dams in
India disrupting supply in some parts of
Pakistan. The concern over
India building large dams over various
Punjab rivers that could undercut the supply flowing to Pakistan, as
well as the possibility that
India could divert rivers in the time of
war, caused political consternation in Pakistan. Holding diplomatic
talks brokered by the World Bank,
Pakistan signed the Indus
Waters Treaty in 1960. The treaty gave
India control of the three
easternmost rivers of the Punjab, the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi,
Pakistan gained control of the three western rivers, the Jhelum,
the Chenab and the Indus.
India retained the right to use of the
western rivers for non-irrigation projects.
There are concerns that extensive deforestation, industrial pollution
and global warming are affecting the vegetation and wildlife of the
Indus delta, while affecting agricultural production as well. There
are also concerns that the Indus river may be shifting its course
westwards – although the progression spans centuries. On numerous
occasions, sediment clogging owing to poor maintenance of canals has
affected agricultural production and vegetation. In addition, extreme
heat has caused water to evaporate, leaving salt deposits that render
lands useless for cultivation.
Effects of climate change on the river
Tibetan Plateau contains the world's third-largest store of ice.
Qin Dahe, the former head of the
China Meteorological Administration,
said the recent fast pace of melting and warmer temperatures will be
good for agriculture and tourism in the short term, but issued a
"Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China,
and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any
other part of the world... In the short term, this will cause lakes to
expand and bring floods and mudflows.. In the long run, the glaciers
are vital lifelines of the Indus River. Once they vanish, water
Pakistan will be in peril."
"There is insufficient data to say what will happen to the Indus,"
says David Grey, the World Bank's senior water advisor in South Asia.
"But we all have very nasty fears that the flows of the Indus could be
severely, severely affected by glacier melt as a consequence of
climate change," and reduced by perhaps as much as 50 percent. "Now
what does that mean to a population that lives in a desert [where],
without the river, there would be no life? I don't know the answer to
that question," he says. "But we need to be concerned about that.
Deeply, deeply concerned."
Over the years factories on the banks of the
Indus River have
increased levels of water pollution in the river and the atmosphere
around it. High levels of pollutants in the river have led to the
deaths of endangered
Indus River Dolphin. The
Protection Agency has ordered polluting factories around the river to
shut down under the
Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997.
Death of the
Indus River Dolphin
Indus River Dolphin has also been attributed to fishermen
using poison to kill fish and scooping them up. As a result,
the government banned fishing from
Guddu Barrage to Sukkur.
Affected areas as of 26 August 2010
Main article: 2010
In July 2010, following abnormally heavy monsoon rains, the Indus
River rose above its banks and started flooding. The rain continued
for the next two months, devastating large areas of Pakistan. In
Sindh, the Indus burst its banks near
Sukkur on 8 August, submerging
the village of Mor Khan Jatoi. In early August, the heaviest
flooding moved southward along the
Indus River from severely affected
northern regions toward western Punjab, where at least 1,400,000 acres
(570,000 ha) of cropland was destroyed, and the southern province
of Sindh. As of September 2010[update], over two thousand people
had died and over a million homes had been destroyed since the
Main article: 2011
Sindh floods began during the Pakistani monsoon season in
mid-August 2011, resulting from heavy monsoon rains in Sindh, eastern
Balochistan, and southern Punjab. The floods caused considerable
damage; an estimated 434 civilians were killed, with 5.3 million
people and 1,524,773 homes affected.
Sindh is a fertile region and
often called the "breadbasket" of the country; the damage and toll of
the floods on the local agrarian economy was said to be extensive. At
least 1.7 million acres (690,000 ha; 2,700 sq mi)
of arable land were inundated. The flooding followed the previous
year's floods, which devastated a large part of the country.
Unprecedented torrential monsoon rains caused severe flooding in 16
districts of Sindh.
Barrages, bridges and dams
Pakistan currently there are three barrages on the Indus: Guddu
Sukkur Barrage, and
Kotri barrage (also called Ghulam
Muhammad barrage). There are some bridges on river Indus, such as,
Dadu Moro Bridge,
Indus River Bridge, Thatta-Sujawal
bridge, Jhirk-Mula Katiar bridge and recently planned Kandhkot-Ghotki
Kala Bagh Barrage, Chasma Barrage, and
Taunsa Barrage are also built
Punjab on the Indus.
Tarbela Dam in
Pakistan is constructed on the Indus River, while the
controversial Kalabagh dam is also being constructed on Indus river.
Video of River Indus at
Kotri Barrage, Sindh, Pakistan.
Frozen Indus, Near Nyoma
Indus at Skardu
1974 Hunza earthquake
Indus Valley Civilisation
Rivers of Jammu and Kashmir
Sind Sagar Doab
Sindhu Darshan Festival
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Jammu and Kashmir in
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^ a b "Indus re-enters
India after two centuries, feeds Little Rann,
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
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