There is more than one river flowing through or originating in India before entering Pakistan. Therefore, the question- ‘which Indian River goes to Pakistan?’ could be deceiving and the answer is thus provided below. Mainly there are six rivers flowing through India into Pakistan – Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. Before we get into the details of their course and origin, there are few important facts that we must consider to avoid confusion.
All the other rivers except the Indus and Sutlej originate within Indian boundaries. Therefore, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Beas are the rivers originating in India and flowing to Pakistan. Both Indus and Sutlej originate in Tibetan Plateau, passing through the state of Jammu and Kashmir before entering into Pakistan. Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej are also the main left bank tributaries of Indus, which will be further clarified below. In our narrative of the Indian Rivers goes to Pakistan, we will go one by one stating their origin, course, projects and their cultural and economic significance or even disputes or threats if any.
Indian Rivers go to Pakistan
The main object of the topic is to enrich you with the geographical knowledge of the rivers and surrounding areas and habitation.
Indus is an ancient river with references in the Rig-Veda and other religious texts. The river has been so much important for the ancient Indian civilization that the name ‘India’ is a Greek derivation of Indus. The river has served the civilizations for thousands of years providing them a vast drainage area rich in agricultural production and suitable for other economic activities.
Indus also was regarded as a border between Iran and ancient India and was known as ‘Sindh’. It is also credited with hosting one of the ancient civilizations, nearly 5500 BCE ago on earth- ‘The Indus valley civilization‘, along its fertile planes. The Indus runs for a total length of 2880 Km and has a drainage area of more than 11,65,000 sq km.
Origin and Course
The Indus originates in the southwestern part of the Tibetan plateau, in the vicinity of Kailash Mansarovar Lake also known as ‘Mapam Yumko’ in China. The river flows through Mount Kailash dropping rapidly with the drop in ground elevation and passes through the Indian border of Pak occupied Kashmir finally entering POK at Baltistan district and henceforth becoming Pakistan’s river. During its course from origin to POK, the river is fed with many streams deriving their water from glaciers and runs between Hindukush and Himalayan mountain ranges.
The first town along its course is Skardu in Pakistan. From here the river takes a southern course draining into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi.
Major Tributaries of Indus
Apart from getting filled by the numerous glacier-fed streams of the upper reaches of Hindukush and Himalayan Mountain ranges, the Indus has seven major tributaries, two on its right bank and five on its left bank. The right bank tributaries of Indus are- Kabul River and Kurram River, while the left bank tributaries are Ravi, Sutlej, Beas, Jhelum and Chenab rivers. The Kabul originates in Afghanistan and meets Indus near the Northern city of Attock in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Like the Kabul River, Kurram too originates in Afghanistan and meets the Indus in North Waziristan province of Pakistan.
The five left bank tributaries meet the Indus into the plains of Bahawalpur district in Punjab, Pakistan. The confluence of the five rivers of Punjab is known as ‘Panjnad’, which finally pours into the Indus River in the city of Mithankot, southern Punjab in Pakistan.
The Indus River has witnessed one of the oldest civilizations on the planet- the Indus valley civilization. The ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro which have become a symbol of structural and economic progress were the part of Indus valley civilization. The civilization extended from North-East Afghanistan to Pakistan and Northwestern India. Extending north to south from the upper reaches of Punjab to Southern Gujarat.
The remnants of civilization found date back to 5500 BC and tell the tale of the flourishing economy and constructional advancements of that time. Till today thousands of ancient cities have been found, some of them being the Alamgirpur and Rakhigarhi. The name ‘India’ is said to be derived from ‘Indus’ and refers to the land lying to South-East of the Indus river.
Present Day Economic and Agricultural Activities
The 11,65,000 sq Km of the Indus drainage area provides a fertile ground for tremendous agricultural activities mainly in Pakistan, making Indus Pakistan’s National River. Various fruits like walnuts, apples, melons, and peach are grown in the upper reaches of the river while crops like potato, maize, and various others are cultivated throughout its length.
The scarcity of the rain in the lower Indus valley makes the river more essential for Pakistan. The Indus had been playing a major role in agriculture since the advent of Indus valley civilization, and many canals for the purpose have been constructed since the beginning of civilization. The ancient canals are being restored while new advance canals are being built to support the agricultural activity in the basin.
There are two dams in Pakistan constructed on the Indus and its tributary Jhelum- Tarbela and Mangla dams respectively. The Tarbela dam located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan is the world’s largest earth-filled dam and serves for flood control, agricultural as well as electricity needs of Pakistan. The hydroelectric power plant has a total electricity generating capacity of 3478 MW.
Mangla dam is located in the Mirpur district of Pakistan. Mangla dam builds across Jhelum is the most important dam in Pakistan serving the multipurpose needs of agriculture as well as electricity generation. Before the construction of the Mangla dam the irrigation yield largely depended on the quality of monsoon and also there was no method to hold much-needed water for irrigation and other purposes. Today the dam reservoir has a total capacity of 1.1 million cusecs while the powerhouse has a generation capacity of 1000 MW.
It is because of the irrigation activity and electricity generation that the Indus sustains, it is indisputably the lifeline of Pakistan. If Pakistan is devoid of the flow of the Indus, its agricultural and economic activities will stall and the country will be thrown into the darkness with almost all of Pakistan devoid of electricity.
Indus Waters Treaty
The Indus, owing to its huge agricultural and economic activity it sustains in Pakistan and to the origination of its major tributaries in Indian Territory had long been a matter of dispute between India and Pakistan, with Pakistan expressing its concern about the likely diversion or blocking of the flow by India in case of a war or political dispute. Both nations signed a treaty in 1960, which is called the ‘Indus Waters Treaty’.
The treaty was an agreement between India and Pakistan dividing the control of water of Indus and its five major tributaries between India and Pakistan. The treaty gave India control of three easternmost rivers –Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi, while Pakistan settled with the three western rivers- Jhelum, Chenab, and Indus. India also has the advantage of using waters of Jhelum, Chenab, and Indus for non-agricultural purposes.
Major Floods and Threats
The river had been responsible for two major floods in past – 2010 Pakistan floods and 2011 Sindh floods. In the former, the river broke its banks due to unusually heavy monsoon rains during July 2010. The floods destroyed crops over a million-acre of land and are infamous for killing and displacing thousands while doing huge losses to property throughout the length of Indus on both sides of its banks.
A similar flood as 2010 was witnessed in Pakistan during the monsoon season of August 2011. Then also hundreds were killed and millions were displaced, along with huge losses to agriculture and property.
The banks of the Indus River have developed as a major spot for setting up industries that pose a serious threat to the purity of water and the ecology it sustains. The pollution of Indus from industrial waste has resulted in the extinction of many aquatic species including the Indus river dolphin. The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency has provided a ray of hope by ordering such factories to shut down.
The Sutlej River
The Indus Water Treaty of 1960 allocated the water of Sutlej mainly to India, which uses it for agricultural purposes in the states of Punjab, Jammu, and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan. The river also supports many major hydroelectric projects.
Origin and course of the Sutlej
The Sutlej River has its source in the west of Lake Rakshatal in Tibet. The lake Rakshatal lies west to the Mansarovar Lake and to the south of Mt Kailash. The Sutlej flows through Tibet (where it is called Elephant River) and enters India in the state of Himachal Pradesh through Shipki-La pass on Indo China border.
Upon entering India the river takes a south-westerly flow meeting with the Beas River near Firozpur, Punjab. The river continues on its southwesterly course upon confluence with the Beas and passes through the Kasur District, Punjab, India into the Pakistan territory at Bhawalpur state. Finally the Sutlej confluences with Chenab near Uch Sharif to form Panjnad River.
The Sutlej is hosting many major hydroelectric projects in India-
- 1000 MW Bhakra Dam in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh.
- 1000 MW Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant, in Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh.
- 1530 MW Nathpa Jhakri Dam also in Himachal Pradesh.
Besides there is an ambitious project of connecting Sutlej and Yamuna through a 214 Km long canal, to be used for agricultural and freight purposes.
The Beas River
The Beas River rises in the State of Himachal Pradesh, India and flows for a length of 470 Kms before its confluence with Satluj in another Indian state of Punjab near Firozpur district. The total catchment area of the Beas is 20,300 sq km.
Origin and Course of the Beas
The Beas originates in the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, on the eastern side of the Rohtang pass in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. The elevation of the river at its origin is 4361 meters above the sea level. During its flow to lower plains, it passes through Mandi district and Shivalik hills in Hoshiyarpur, Punjab.
From then on it turns southwards at the foot of the hill and passes through the districts of Jalandhar, Amritsar, and Kapurthala. Finally, the Beas empties into the Sutlej near Jalandhar district of Punjab. The main tributaries of Beas are-Ulhal, Bainganga, Luni and Bain.
- Larji Hydroelectric Project in Kullu with a capacity of 126 MW.
- Baner and Neugal projects in Kangra district with an installed capacity of 12 MW, on two of its tributaries-Baner and Neugal.
The Ravi River
The Ravi River rises in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and finally meets the Chenab River in Pakistan to drain into the Arabian Sea through Indus River. In India the river traverses through a length of nearly 715 Km, having a total drainage area of 14442 sq Km in India. Ravi is a vital source of water for irrigation purposes in India as well as Pakistan. Besides, there are many hydroelectric projects currently running on the river.
Origin and Course of Ravi
Rising in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India; the river flows in the southeasterly direction and turning steeply towards the northwest and again turning southeast after traversing few miles, passing through the districts of Barabhangal and Chamba. The river enters in Punjab near Pathankot; from there it flows along the India Pakistan border for nearly 75 Kms before entering Pakistan before its confluence with the Chenab.
- Madhpur Headworks in 1902- a major irrigation project for diverting water for irrigation purposes.
- Baira Suil Hydroelectric Power project with a capacity of 198 MW.
- Chamera-I with a total capacity of 540 MW.
- Chamera- II with a total capacity of 300 MW.
- Ranjit Sagar multipurpose project with a capacity of 600 MW.
The Jhelum River
Jhelum River is located in northwest India and northeastern Pakistan. The Indus Waters Treaty allocates the water of Jhelum to Pakistan. The total length of the Jhelum from its origin to its confluence with Chenab in Pakistan is 750 Km.
Origin and Course of Jhelum
The Jhelum River rises from the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, located at the base of the inner Himalayan mountain range known as the Pir Panjal Mountain range. In India the river passes through Srinagar and Woolar Lake, entering the planes of Pakistan in Jhelum district before merging with Chenab to form a major tributary of the Indus.
- Uri dam in Jammu and Kashmir with 400 MW installed capacity.
- Trimmu barrage in Punjab Pakistan, with a total discharge capacity of 18000 m3/sec.
- Rasul barrage Pakistan with a flow of 24000 m3/sec.
- 330 MW Krishna Ganga Hydroelectric plant located in Jammu and Kashmir.
- Mangla Dam in Pakistan with a capacity of 7.3 KM3.
The Chenab River
The waters of Chenab were allocated to Pakistan in the Indus waters treaty. The Chenab River rises from the Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh in the upper Himalayas. The river traverse passing through few districts of Jammu and Kashmir, India and enters Punjab Province of Pakistan before emptying into the Indus. The river has a total running length of 960 Km.
Origin and Course of Chenab
Rising from the Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh located in the upper Himalayas the river passes through the districts of Reasi, Ramban and Kishtawar in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The river is formed by the confluence of two of its major tributaries- Chandra and Bhaga. After entering Pakistan, the Chenab empties into Indus River near the city of Uch Sharif in southern Pakistan.
- Salal dam near Reasi- 690 MW.
- Baglihar dam hydroelectric project in Doda-900 MW.
- Dul Hasti Hydroelectric Plant in Kishtwar- 390MW.
- Kiru hydroelectric project in Kishtwar-624 MW.
- Kwar hydroelectric project in Kishtwar-540 MW.
- Trimmu barrage located in the Jhang district.
Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Indian Rivers go to Pakistan:
Q1) How many rivers flow between India and Pakistan?
Ans-Total six Rivers flow from India into Pakistan- Indus, Jhelum, Ravi, Beas, Chenab and Sutlej.
Q2) Which is the longest river in Pakistan?
Ans- Indus is the longest river in Pakistan with a length of nearly 2300 Km within Pakistan territory.
Q3) Where does Indus originate?
Ans-The Indus originates in the southwestern part of the Tibetan plateau, in the vicinity of Kailash Mansarovar Lake also known as ‘Mapam Yumko’ in China.
Q4) Which is the first Pakistani town along with the flow of Indus?
Ans- Skardu in Gilgit baltistan region of Pakistan.
Q5) Which rivers are the major tributaries of Indus?
Ans-The right bank tributaries of Indus are- Kurram River and Kabul River while the left bank tributaries are Sutlej, Ravi, Jhelum Beas, and Chenab rivers.
Q6) What are other names of the Indus River?
Ans-‘Sindhu’ is the ancient name of the Indus and in Pakistan, it is still called by this name. It is also known as Shinghi Khamban in Tibet.
Q7) Which currency was used for trade in Indus valley civilization?
Ans- Instead of money their trade relied on swapping system i.e. mutual exchange of goods and services. Later on, soapstone seals were also used as currency.
Q8) Name some of the deities of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Ans- The civilization had three major religions- Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Evidence suggests the worship of Gods like Shiva and Rudra.
Q9) Where was the Indus River Valley civilization?
Ans- Indus river valley included an area of 12, 60,000 sq Km extending from North-East Afghanistan to northwest India including all of Pakistan from 5000 BCE to 1500 BCE.
Q10) Name some well known ancient cities on the banks of the Indus.
Ans- Harappa, and Mohenjo-Daro during the Indus valley civilization.
Q11) What is Indus’s total drainage area?
Ans- 11, 65,000 sq kms.
Q12) What are the major dams on Indus?
Ans-There are two dams in Pakistan constructed on the Indus and its tributary Jhelum- Tarbela and Mangla dams respectively.
Q13) Had Indus witnessed any major floods in the near past?
Ans- Yes, twice –July 2010 and August 2011
Q14) What is the treaty for distribution of Indus water between India and Pakistan called?
Ans- Indus water treaty 1960.
Q15) According to the Indus Water Treaty which rivers were given in control of India and Pakistan?
Ans- The treaty gave India control of three easternmost rivers –Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi, while Pakistan settled with the three western rivers- Jhelum, Chenab, and Indus.
Q16) Where does Sutlej originate?
Ans- The Sutlej River has its source in the west of Lake Rakshatal in Tibet.
Q17) What is the old name of the Sutlej River?
Ans- The other name of Sutlej is Satadree.
Q18) What is the total basin area of Sutlej?
Ans- 3, 95, 000 sq Kms is the total basin area of the Sutlej.
Q19) What is the length of Sutlej in India and Pakistan?
Ans- Total length of 1450 Km out of which a total flow of 14050 km in the Indian Territory.
Q20) What are some of the major Tributaries of the Sutlej?
Ans- Some major tributaries of the Sutlej are – Spiti, Soan, Baspa and Nogli Khad Rivers.
Q21) What are some major dams on Sutlej?
Ans- Bhakra Dam in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh, 1000 MW Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant, in Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh and 1530 MW Nathpa Jhakri Dam also in Himachal Pradesh.
Q22) Where does the Beas River originate?
Ans- The Beas originates in the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas.
Q23) What is the total length of the Beas River?
Ans- Total flow of Beas is 470 Kms before the confluence with Sutlej.
Q24) What are the major tributaries of the Beas River?
Ans- Bain, Luni, Uhal, and Banganga are some of the major tributaries of Beas River.
Q25) What are the major dams built on the Beas?
Ans- Larji hydroelectric project in Kullu, Baner, and Neugal in Kangra on tributaries Baner and Neugal respectively.
Q26) What is the origin of the Ravi River?
Ans- Ravi has its origin in the Himalayas in Kangra district, Multan Tehsil of Himachal Pradesh.
Q27) What is the old name of the Ravi River?
Ans-Parusni and Airavati are two ancient names of the Ravi River.
Q28) What is the total length of Ravi River?
Ans- The total length of the Ravi River is 720 Kms.
Q29) What are the tributaries of Ravi River?
Ans- Bhadal, Siul, Baira, and Tant Gari are some of the main tributaries of Ravi.
Q30) What are the major projects build on Ravi and its tributaries?
Ans- Baira suil, Chamera I, Chamera II and Ranjit Sagar multipurpose projects are some of the important projects on the Ravi River.
Q31) Where does Jhelum originate?
Ans- Himalayan Mountain range located in the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Q32) What is the total length of Jhelum?
Ans- The Jhelum has a total length of 750 Kms.
Q33) What is the ancient mythological name of Jhelum?
Ans- The ancient mythological name of Jhelum is ‘Vitasta’.
Q34) What are the major tributaries of Jhelum?
Ans-Lidder River, Sind River, Neelam River, Kunhar River, Poonch River are the tributaries of Jhelum.
Q35) Name some important projects/dams on Jhelum.
Ans- Uri and Krishna Ganga Hydroelectric projects in J & K, Rasu barrage and Mangla dam in Pakistan.
Q36) Where does the Chenab River originate?
Ans- The Chenab originates in the upper reaches of the Himalayas in the Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.
Q37) What is the total length of the Chenab River?
Ans- The total length of Cheab River is 960 Kms.
Q38) What are the major tributaries of Chenab?
Ans-Bhaga and Chandra’s rivers are two major tributaries of the Chenab.
Q39) What are some major projects on the Chenab River?
Ans-Salal dam, Baglihar, Kiru and Kwar Hydroelectric projects.