History witnessed most of the cities and civilizations evolve by the banks of rivers in India. Early man discovered life didn’t exist without water and they could survive in the vicinity of it only. In Himachal Pradesh, human societies are set up only when forebears choose to live close to water. With time, however, modernity laid a hand on the usability of water. Still, the rivers play an important role in the lives of people here.
In Himachal, the river system offers irrigation, drinkable water, transportation, and electricity. All these offerings enable a large number of people to earn their living. The rivers here mean not only this much to people but also have religious value to them. The rivers have been given considerable place in Hindu mythology and are regarded as holy endowments from nature.
There are five major rivers in Himachal viz. the Sutlej, the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, and the Yamuna. These rivers are perennial and snow and rainfall are their main sources. Extensive natural plants and undergrowths accompany and guard each of these rivers. There are other local rivers and rivulets that minister to agriculture, the backbone of the economy in Himachal. Let’s know more about major rivers:
The Sutlej River in Shimla
The Sutlej is the longest river in Himachal. The Vedic name (mentioned in the Vedas, the sacred scriptures) of the Sutlej is ‘Shatdru’. The river originates from Mansarovar Lake located in Tibet. It cuts through the great Himalayan and the Zaskar ranges of mountains and enters Himachal at Shipkila. Rampur, Sunni, and Bilaspur are the towns situated on the banks of this river.
Bhakra village is the exit point of the Sutlej River. From Bhakra it enters into Punjab. The Baspa, the Spiti, the Soan, and the Nogli Khad are the main tributaries of the river. The Sutlej covered an area of 20,000 km² in Himachal before entering the Punjab region.
The Chenab River of Chamba
The Chenab or Chandrabhaga is the largest river in terms of water volume in Himachal. The Vedic name of this river is ‘Askni’. The origin of the river is Tandi place in Lahaul where Chandra and Bhaga, the two streams meet to form the Chandrabhaga.
The total length of the Chenab in Himachal is 122 km and covers an area of 7,500 km². Chandra and Bhaga are its main tributaries. This river rises from the Pir Panjar range of mountains and flows through Pangi Valley. The Chenab exits from Himachal at Sansari Nullah to enter Jammu and Kashmir.
The Ravi River from Bara Banghal
The Ravi River rises in Bara Banghal, Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. The Vedic name of this river is ‘Parushini’ and is known as ‘Irawati’ in Sanskrit. The river flows 130 km in Himachal and covers an area of 5,451 km². The main tributaries of the Ravi are Bhadal and Tantgari.
The Beas River from Pir Panjal Range
The Beas originates from Beaskund at Pir Panjal mountain range near Rohtang Pass in Lahaul and Spiti. The Vedic name of this river is ‘Bipasha’. Manali is the gateway of the river. The Parbati, the Hurla, the Sainj, and the Uhl are the tributaries of the Beas. The Beas crosses a total distance of 256 km in Himachal before entering Punjab at Mirthal.
The Yamuna River from Yamunotri
The Yamuna was born in Yamunotri in Uttarkashi district in Uttrakhand. The Vedic name of the Yamuna is ‘Kalindi’. The Yamuna River traverses through the Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh. The catchment area of the Yamuna in Himachal is about 20,000 km². The main tributaries of the Yamuna are the Tons, the Giri, and the Bata.