Chenab River

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चिनाब / ਚਨਾਬ / چناب
Chenab River in Akhanoor, India.jpg
Location of the Chenab [1]
CountryIndia, Pakistan
Flows through (areas in India)Lahaul-Chamba-Kishtwar-Thathri-Doda-Ramban-Akhnoor
Flows through (areas in Pakistan)Punjab-Uch
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; 71.02806Coordinates: 29°20′57″N 71°1′41″E / 29.34917°N 71.02806°E / 29.34917; 71.02806
Length1,180 km (730 mi)approx.
 • 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
 • rightMarusudar River[2]

The Chenab River (Hindi: चिनाब cināb; Punjabi: ਚਨਾਬ cenāb; Urdu: چنابčanāb) 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 and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh state, India. Chenab flows through the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, India into the plains of Punjab, Pakistan, before flowing into the Indus River near the city of Uch Sharif.

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.[3][4][5]

View from Gandhola Monastery down the Chenab river in Lahaul


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.[6][7] The term Krishana is also found in the Atharvaveda.[8] A later form of Askikni was Iskamati (Sanskrit: इस्कामति)[citation needed] and the Greek form was Ancient Greek: Ἀκεσίνης - Akesínes; Latinized to Acesines.[9][6][7]

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.[8][10] This name was also known to the Ancient Greeks, who Hellenised it in various forms such as Sandrophagos, Sandabaga and Cantabra.[7]

The simplification of Chandrabhaga to 'Chenab', with evident Persianate influence, probably occurred in early medieval times and is witnessed in Alberuni.[11]


The river is formed by the confluence of two rivers, Chandra and Bhaga, at Tandi, 8 km southwest of Keylong, in the Lahaul and Spiti district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.[3]

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).[3][12] This pass also acts as a water-divide between these two rivers.[13] The Chandra river transverses 115 km (71 mi) before the confluence. The Bhaga river transverses through narrow gorges a distance of 60 km (37 mi) before the confluence at Tandi.[14]


The river was known to Indians in the Vedic period[15][16][17] In 325 BC, 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 stream of Punjab rivers (currently known as the Panjnad River).[18]


The river has rich power generation potential in India.

Old bridge over Chenab river at Ramban, Jammu and Kashmir, India

All of these are "run-of-the-river" projects as per the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. The Treaty allocates the Chenab River to Pakistan. India can use its water for domestic and agricultural uses or for "non-consumptive" uses such as hydro power. 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).[19]

Pakistan has four headworks on the Chenab:

See also[edit]


  1. ^[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. ^ 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
  4. ^ "River Chenab" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007.
  5. ^ "Indus Waters Treaty". The World Bank. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b Kapoor, Subodh (2002), Encyclopaedia of Ancient Indian Geography, Cosmo Publications, p. 80, ISBN 978-81-7755-298-0
  7. ^ a b c Kaul, Antiquities of the Chenāb Valley in Jammu 2001, p. 1.
  8. ^ a b Kaul, Antiquities of the Chenāb Valley in Jammu 2001, p. 2.
  9. ^ Public Domain Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Acesines". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ Kazmi, Hasan Askari (1995), The makers of medieval Muslim geography: Alberuni, Renaissance, p. 124, ISBN 9788185199610
  12. ^ Gosal, G.S. (2004). "Physical Geography of the Punjab" (PDF). Journal of Punjab Studies. Center for Sikh and Punjab Studies, University of California. 11 (1): 31. ISSN 0971-5223. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Lahaul & Spiti". Archived from the original on 16 April 2019. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ "River, Chenab River on Encyclopædia Britannica". Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  17. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica article on the Chenab
  18. ^ Alexandria (Uch)
  19. ^ Bakshi, Gitanjali; Trivedi, Sahiba (2011), The Indus Equation (PDF), Strategic Foresight Group, p. 29, retrieved 28 October 2014