Tsarap River

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Tsarap River/ صراف ندی
Tsarap Chu
Zanskar Char 1.jpg
Tsarap River at village Char
Country India
State Jammu and Kashmir
Region Ladakh
District Kargil
 - left Stod River
Source 32°41′53″N 77°53′25″E / 32.69796°N 77.890177°E / 32.69796; 77.890177Coordinates: 32°41′53″N 77°53′25″E / 32.69796°N 77.890177°E / 32.69796; 77.890177
 - location Pankpo La, Sarchu
 - elevation 4,650 m (15,256 ft)
Mouth 33°30′57″N 76°56′02″E / 33.515855°N 76.933805°E / 33.515855; 76.933805
 - location Stod River together forms Zanskar River at Padum Zanskar
 - elevation 3,485 m (11,434 ft)
Length 182 km (113 mi)
 - average 208 m3/s (7,345 cu ft/s)

The Tsarap River or the Tsarap Chu (Urdu: صراف ندی‎), is a river 182 kilometres (113 mi) long, which forms the eastern part of the Zanskar valley, in the Ladakh region of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.


Tsarap River

The Tsarap River has its source in the glaciers near Pankpo La Pass at the border of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.[1] After rising from its source, the Tsarap River flows southwest up to Sarchu, a camping site at the Leh-Manali Highway, here the Tsarap River joins a confluent of three rivers of Lingti, Yunan and Sarchu River.[2] At village Purne, the Tsarap River is joined by Kargyag River which originates near Shingo La pass.[3] Then the Tsarap River flows down in the main Zanskar valley, through the towns of Mone, Tichip, Jamyang Lang, Dorzong and Chia. The river then passes a confluence with its tributary, the Stod River, at Padum, the capital of Zanskar. Together, these two rivers form the Zanskar River, a tributary of the Indus River.[4]

The Tsarap River contributes to the minimal agricultural production of the Zanskar valley, mainly to the lower areas of Chia, by providing irrigation to the fields of barley, wheat, buckwheat and peas.[5] Accessible in the summer, the Pensi La mountain pass which connects Zanskar with rest of the country, receives heavy snowfall along with the other pass Zojila, which results in the valley being cut off during winter from rest of the state, with the river freezing during this season. The river source at Pankpo La near Sarchu lies 255 kilometres (158 mi) southeast from the nearest airport of Leh. The Tsarap River is famous for adventure sports. Rafting events are organised in the Tsarap, Stod and the Zanskar rivers.[6][7]

Landslide Dam[edit]

Alchi Hydroelectric Power Project down the river
Satellite image of the Tsarap River in December 2014 before the landslide
Satellite image of the Tsarap River in January 2015 showing the landslide and lake building up. In addition the river has frozen and has a covering of snow

A lake has been formed on the Tsarap River due to a landslide dam at 33°17′25″N 77°17′06″E / 33.29028°N 77.28500°E / 33.29028; 77.28500, 90 miles (140 km) upstream (south) of Padum the commercial hub of Zanskar. The landslide, which occurred on 31 December, 2014 between Shun and Phuktal villages, was first noticed when the Alchi Hydroelectric Power Project down the river reported recession in water level. The dam created by the debris is 60 metres (200 ft) high, 90 metres (300 ft) wide and 600 metres (2,000 ft) long[8] and the artificial lake is at 80% of the height of the debris. As of February 1, 2015, the artificial lake formed behind the dam is nearly 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) long and covered about 110 hectares of land.[9][10][11]

The material of barrier is believed to be of fine-grained with boulders having a narrow crest. A report submitted by local authorities prohibited the use of explosives to clear debris as it would trigger more landslides and aggravate the situation. They have called up on the National Disaster Management for assessment of the situation.[11] According to the deputy collector of Zanskar, "The lake has been created around 90 km from the Padam area of Zanskar and beyond 43 km no one can go by foot. After consulting all local engineers, including Army engineers, we were not able to do anything".[12] On 20th February, 2015 the National Disaster Management after a ground survey submitted a report on which the Committee headed by the Union Cabinet Secretary deployed a team at the site to carry out controlled blasting and manual work to allow channelized flow of water.[13]

The severe temperatures in the region which are below -20°C have frozen the lake and chances of a breach will rise with a rise in temperature in the following days. Authorities have closed down the old trade route, the Chadar Trek and have airlifted the people stranded therein to the safer places. People living in downstream areas of Tsarap have also been informed to move to higher and safer places. Control rooms have been set up at Padum and Phuktal to keep a close watch on the situation.[9][10][14][11]


  1. ^ India. Quarter Master General's Dept. Intelligence Branch (1991). Gazetteer of Kashmir and Ladak: together with routes in the territories of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Sang-e-Meel Publications, 1991. p. -725. ISBN 9789693501049. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Harish Kapadia (2002). High Himalaya Unknown Valleys. Indus Publishing, 2002. p. -228. ISBN 9788173871177. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Outlook (2005). Trekking holidays in India: 85 treks + 50. Outlook Pub. (India), 200. p. -71. ISBN 9788189449001. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Tsarap a tributory of Zanskar river". tourisminjammukashmir. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  5. ^ Henry Osmaston, Nawang Tsering (1997). Recent Research on Ladakh 6: Proceedings of the Sixth International Colloquium on Ladakh, Leh 1993. Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1997. p. -106. ISBN 9788120814325. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Pippa de Bruyn, Niloufer Venkatraman, Keith Bain (2006). Frommer's India Volume 187 of Frommer's Complete Guides. John Wiley & Sons, 2006. p. -500. ISBN 9780471794349. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "Zanskar Rafting Expedition". thrillophilia.com. Retrieved 2015-04-27. 
  8. ^ Phuktal River Blockade (Zanskar Region), Kargil District, Jammu & Kashmir
  9. ^ a b "Zanskar landslide DC Kargil chairs an emergency review meeting". KashmirLife.net. Retrieved 2015-02-01. 
  10. ^ a b "Landslide in Northern India". EarthObservatory.NASA. Retrieved 2015-02-01. 
  11. ^ a b c "New images of the landslide on the Tsarap River". American Geophysical Union. Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  12. ^ "The landslide on the Tsarap River in the Zanskar Valley". American Geophysical Union. Retrieved 2015-02-03. 
  13. ^ "Phutkal River Blockade". GreaterKashmir.com. Retrieved 2015-02-27. 
  14. ^ "Phutkal River Blockade". GreaterKashmir.com. Retrieved 2015-02-01.