Helmand River

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Helmand River
Helmand River drainage basin
Map of the Helmand River drainage basin
Helmand River drainage basin
Map of the Helmand River drainage basin
Origin Hindu Kush mountains
Mouth Lake Hamun
Length 1,150 km (710 mi)
Basin area Sistan Basin
Left tributaries Arghandab River
Right tributaries Khash River
Chagay River

The Helmand River (also spelled Helmend, Helmund, Hirmand; Pashto/Persian: هیرمند, هلمند Hīrmand, Helmand, Greek: Ἐτύμανδρος (Etýmandros), Latin: Erymandrus) is the longest river in Afghanistan and the primary watershed for the endorheic Sistan Basin.[1]

The name comes from Avestan Haētumant, literally "dammed, having a dam", cognate with Sanskrit Setumanta "having a dam", which referred to the Helmand River and the irrigated areas around it.[2] The name was borrowed into Greek and Latin as a compound with Eastern Iranian *raha (cf. Scythian Rha "Volga"), "river". Helmand Province is named after the river.

The Helmand River stretches for 1,150 km (710 mi). It rises in the Hindu Kush mountains, about 80 km (50 mi) west of Kabul (34°34′N 68°33′E / 34.567°N 68.550°E / 34.567; 68.550), passing north of the Unai Pass,in the eastern proximities of Hazarajat, in Behsud, flows west to Daykundi and Uruzgan. It crosses south-west through the desert of Dashti Margo, to the Seistan marshes and the Hamun-i-Helmand lake region around Zabol at the Afghan-Iranian border (31°9′N 61°33′E / 31.150°N 61.550°E / 31.150; 61.550).

The river remains relatively salt-free for much of its length, unlike most rivers with no outlet to the sea[citation needed]. This river, managed by the Helmand and Arghandab Valley Authority is used extensively for irrigation, although a buildup of mineral salts has decreased its usefulness in watering crops. Its waters are essential for farmers in Afghanistan, but it feeds into Lake Hamun and is also important to farmers in Iran's southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province.

A number of hydroelectric dams have created artificial reservoirs on some of the Afghanistan's rivers including the Kajakai on the Helmand River. The chief tributary of the Helmand river is the Arghandab River (confluence at 31°27′N 64°23′E / 31.450°N 64.383°E / 31.450; 64.383) which also has a major dam north of Kandahar.

The boundaries of the province of Helmand were once known as kingdom of Sakastan.

History[edit]

The Helmand valley region is mentioned by name in the Avesta (Fargard 1:13) as the Aryan land of Haetumant, one of the early centers of the Zoroastrian faith in pre-Islamic Afghan history. But owing to the preponderance of Hindus and Buddhists (non-Zoroastrians), the Helmand and Kabul regions were also known as "White India" in those days.[3] Some Vedic scholars (e.g. Kochhar 1999) also believe the Helmand valley corresponds to the Sarasvati area mentioned in the Rig Veda as the homeland for the Indo-Aryan migrations into India, ca. 1500 BC.[4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "History of Environmental Change in the Sistan Basin 1976 - 2005". Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  2. ^ Jack Finegan. Myth & Mystery: An Introduction to the Pagan Religions of the Biblical World. Baker Books, 1997. ISBN 0-8010-2160-X, 9780801021602
  3. ^ Vendidad 1, at Avesta.org
  4. ^ Kochhar, Rajesh. 'On the identity and chronology of the Ṛgvedic river Sarasvatī' in Archaeology and Language III; Artefacts, languages and texts, Routledge (1999). ISBN 0-415-10054-2.

References[edit]

External links[edit]