The waters of the Chenab start from snow melt from the Bara Lacha Pass, 32°44′N77°26′E / 32.733°N 77.433°E / 32.733; 77.433, in 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. A motorable road runs along the Bhaga River, from Khokhsar to Tandi. The Chandra and Bhaga meet to form 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 from the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir into the plains of the Punjab, forming the boundary between the Rechna and Jech interfluves (Doabs in Persian). It is joined by the Jhelum River at Trimmu تریمو and then by the Ravi RiverAhmedpur Sial احمدپور سیال. It then merges with the Sutlej River near Uch Sharif, Pakistan to form the Panjnad or the 'Five Rivers', the fifth being the Beas River which joins the Sutlej near Ferozepur, India. The Chenab then joins the Indus at Mithankot. The total length of the Chenab is approximately 960 kilometres.
The Chenab has the same place in the consciousness of the people of the Punjab as, say, the Rhine holds for the Germans, or the Danube for the Austrians and the Hungarians. It is the iconic river around which Punjabi consciousness revolves, and plays a prominent part in the tale of Heer Ranjha, the Punjabi national epic and the legend of Sohni Mahiwal.
This river has been in the news of late due to the steps taken by the Indian government to build a number of hydroelectric power dams along its length in India, notably Baglihar Dam, as part of the Indus Basin Project. These planned projects on Chenab have been contested by Pakistan, though Pakistan's objections have been dismissed by the Indian government.