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Chenab River

Coordinates: 29°20′57″N 71°1′41″E / 29.34917°N 71.02806°E / 29.34917; 71.02806
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The Chenab river at Ramban, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Location of the Chenab [1]
CountryIndia, Pakistan
Flows through (areas in India)Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir
Flows through (areas in Pakistan)Punjab
Physical characteristics
SourceBaralacha La pass
 • locationLahul and Spiti district, Himachal Pradesh, India
 • coordinates32°38′09″N 77°28′51″E / 32.63583°N 77.48083°E / 32.63583; 77.48083
MouthConfluence with Sutlej to form the Panjnad River
 • location
Bahawalpur district, Punjab, Pakistan
 • coordinates
29°20′57″N 71°1′41″E / 29.34917°N 71.02806°E / 29.34917; 71.02806
Length1,974 km (1,227 mi)
 • locationMarala Headworks[1]
 • average977.3 m3/s (34,510 cu ft/s)
 • minimum310.53 m3/s (10,966 cu ft/s)
 • maximum31,148.53 m3/s (1,100,000 cu ft/s)
Basin features
River systemIndus River
 • leftTawi River, Ravi River
 • rightMarusudar River,[2] Jhelum River, Neeru river and Kalnai River

The Chenab River[a] is a major river that flows in India and Pakistan, and is one of the 5 major rivers of the Punjab region. It is formed by the union of two headwaters, Chandra and Bhaga, which rise in the upper Himalayas in the Lahaul region of Himachal Pradesh, India. The Chenab flows through the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, India, into the plains of Punjab, Pakistan, before ultimately flowing into the Indus River. The Battle of Chenab was fought between Sikhs and Afghans on the bank of the river.[3]

The waters of the Chenab were allocated to Pakistan under the terms of the Indus Waters Treaty. India is allowed non-consumptive uses such as power generation. The Chenab River is extensively used in Pakistan for irrigation. Its waters are also transferred to the channel of the Ravi River via numerous link canals.[4][5][6]


The Chenab river was called Asikni (Sanskrit: असिक्नी) in the Rigveda (VIII.20.25, X.75.5). The name meant that it was seen to have dark-coloured waters.[7][8] The term Krishana is also found in the Atharvaveda.[9] A later form of Askikni was Iskamati (Sanskrit: इस्कामति)[citation needed] and the Greek form was Ancient Greek: Ἀκεσίνης - Akesínes; Latinized to Acesines.[7][8][10]

In the Mahabharata, the common name of the river was Chandrabhaga (Sanskrit: चन्द्रभागा) because the river is formed from the confluence of the Chandra and the Bhaga rivers.[9][11] This name was also known to the Ancient Greeks, who Hellenised it in various forms such as Sandrophagos, Sandabaga and Cantabra.[8]

The simplification of Chandrabhaga to 'Chenab', with evident Persianate influence, probably occurred in early medieval times and is witnessed in Alberuni.[12]


Confluence of the Chandra (left) and Bhaga (right), the two main headstreams of the Chenab, at Tandi, Himachal Pradesh, India

The river is formed by the confluence of two rivers, Chandra and Bhaga, at Tandi, 8 km (5.0 mi) southwest of Keylong, in the Lahaul and Spiti district of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.[4]

The Bhaga river originates from Surya taal lake, which is situated a few kilometers west of the Bara-lacha la pass in Himachal Pradesh. The Chandra river originates from glaciers east of the same pass (near Chandra Taal).[4][13] This pass also acts as a water-divide between these two rivers.[14] The Chandra river transverses 115 km (71 mi) while the Bhaga river transverses 60 km (37 mi) through narrow gorges before their confluence at Tandi.[15]

The Chandra-Bhaga then flows through the Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh before entering the Jammu division of Jammu and Kashmir, where it flows through the Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Reasi and Jammu districts. It enters Pakistan and flows through the Punjab province before emptying into the Sutlej, forming the Panjnad river.


The river was known to Indians in the Vedic period.[16][17][18] In 325 BCE, Alexander the Great allegedly founded the town of Alexandria on the Indus (present-day Uch Sharif or Mithankot or Chacharan in Pakistan) at the confluence of the Indus and the combined streams of Punjab rivers (currently known as the Panjnad River).[19] Arrian, in the Anabasis of Alexander, quotes the eyewitness Ptolemy Lagides as writing that the river was 2 miles wide where Alexander crossed it.[20]


The Salal Dam near Reasi, Jammu and Kashmir, India

The river has rich power generation potential in India. There are many dams built, under construction or proposed to be built on the Chenab for the purpose of hydroelectric power generation in the country, including:

All of these are "run-of-the-river" projects as per the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. The Treaty allocates the waters of Chenab to Pakistan. India can use its water for domestic and agricultural uses or for "non-consumptive" uses such as hydropower. India is entitled to store up to 1.2 million acre-feet (1.5 billion cubic metres) of water in its projects. The three projects completed as of 2011, Salal, Baglihar and Dul Hasti, have a combined storage capacity of 260 thousand acre-feet (320 million cubic metres).[21]

The Chenab river at the Marala Headworks

Pakistan has four headworks on the Chenab:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ /ɪˈnæb/; Hindustani pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʃə.nɑːb]; Punjabi pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʃə˨.nä̃ː˦]); Saraiki pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʃə.nʱɑ̃ː]


  1. ^ ftp://daac.ornl.gov/data/rivdis/STATIONS.HTM[permanent dead link], ORNL, Retrieved 8 Dec 2016
  2. ^ "Construction of power projects over Chenab". Business Recorder. 26 August 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  3. ^ ^ Jump up to:a b VSM, D. S. Saggu (2018-06-07). Battle Tactics And War Manoeuvres of the Sikhs. Notion Press. ISBN 978-1-64249-006-0.
  4. ^ a b c Naqvi, Saiyid Ali (2012), Indus Waters and Social Change: The Evolution and Transition of Agrarian Society in Pakistan, Oxford University Press Pakistan, p. 13, ISBN 978-0-19-906396-3
  5. ^ "River Chenab" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007.
  6. ^ "Indus Waters Treaty". The World Bank. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  7. ^ a b Kapoor, Subodh (2002), Encyclopaedia of Ancient Indian Geography, Cosmo Publications, p. 80, ISBN 978-81-7755-298-0
  8. ^ a b c Kaul, Antiquities of the Chenāb Valley in Jammu 2001, p. 1.
  9. ^ a b Kaul, Antiquities of the Chenāb Valley in Jammu 2001, p. 2.
  10. ^ Public Domain Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Acesines". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
  11. ^ Handa, O. C.; Omacanda Hāṇḍā (1994), Buddhist Art & Antiquities of Himachal Pradesh, Upto 8th Century A.D., Indus Publishing, pp. 126–, ISBN 978-81-85182-99-5
  12. ^ Kazmi, Hasan Askari (1995), The makers of medieval Muslim geography: Alberuni, Renaissance, p. 124, ISBN 9788185199610
  13. ^ Gosal, G.S. (2004). "Physical Geography of the Punjab" (PDF). Journal of Punjab Studies. 11 (1). Center for Sikh and Punjab Studies, University of California: 31. ISSN 0971-5223. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  14. ^ R. K. Pant; N. R. Phadtare; L. S. Chamyal & Navin Juyal (June 2005). "Quaternary deposits in Ladakh and Karakoram Himalaya: A treasure trove of the palaeoclimate records" (PDF). Current Science. 88 (11): 1789–1798. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  15. ^ "Lahaul & Spiti". Archived from the original on 16 April 2019. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  16. ^ Yule, Henry; Burnell, Arthur Coke; Crooke, William (1903). Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of Anglo-Indian colloquial words & phrases and of kindred terms. Murray. p. 741. chenab ancient name.
  17. ^ "River, Chenab River on Encyclopædia Britannica". Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  18. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica article on the Chenab
  19. ^ "Alexandria (Uch)". Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  20. ^ Arrian (2010). Romm, James (ed.). The Landmark Arrian : the Campaigns of Alexander ; Anabasis Alexandrous : a new translation. Translated by Mensch, Pamela. New York: Pantheon Books. p. 222. ISBN 9780375423468. OCLC 515405268. Retrieved 9 July 2023.
  21. ^ Bakshi, Gitanjali; Trivedi, Sahiba (2011), The Indus Equation (PDF), Strategic Foresight Group, p. 29, retrieved 28 October 2014


External links[edit]