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Indus River (Darya Sindh)
Sindh, Sindhu, Hindu, Abasin, Sengge Chu, Yìndù Hé
Satellite image of the Indus River basin, Pakistan.
Countries China, India, Pakistan
Source Confluence of the Sengge and Gar rivers
 - location Tibetan Plateau, Tibet Autonomous Region, China
Mouth Sapta Sindhu
 - location Sindh, Pakistan
 - elevation m (0 ft)
Length 3,200 km (2,000 mi) approx.
Basin 1,165,000 km2 (450,000 sq mi) approx.
Discharge for Arabian Sea
 - average 6,600 m3/s (230,000 cu ft/s) approx.
Thal Canal from the Indus river, Pakistan

The Indus River (Sanskrit: सिन्धु Sindhu "River"; Urdu: سندھ Sindh; Sindhi: سندھو Sindhu; Punjabi سندھ; ਸਿੰਧੂ Sindh; Hindko سندھ Sindh; Avestan: सिन्धु Harahuti; Pashto: اباسين Abāsin "The Father River"; Persian: آب-ا-سن Ab-e-Sin or حندو Nilou ("indigo waters"); Arabic: السندAl-Sind; Tibetan: སེང་གེ།་གཙང་པོWylie: Sênggê Zangbo "Lion River"; Chinese: 森格藏布/狮泉河/印度河pinyin: Sēngé Zàngbù/Shīquán Hé/Yìndù Hé; Greek: Ινδός Indós; Turki: Nilab) is a major river which flows through India and Pakistan.

Originating in the Tibetan plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and then enters Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan), flowing through the North in a southerly direction along the entire length of the country, to merge into the Arabian Sea near port city of Karachi in Sindh. The total length of the river is 3,180 kilometers (1,976 miles) and is Pakistan's longest river. The river has a total drainage area exceeding 1,165,000 square kilometers (450,000 square miles). The river's estimated annual flow stands at around 207 cubic kilometers, making it the twenty-first largest river in the world in terms of annual flow. Beginning at the heights of the world with glaciers, the river feeds the ecosystem of temperate forests, plains and arid countryside. Together with the rivers Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Jhelum, Beas and two tributaries from the North West Frontier and Afghanistan, the Indus forms the Sapta Sindhu (Seven Rivers) delta of Pakistan.



The Indus provides the key water resources for the economy of Pakistan - especially the Breadbasket of Punjab province, which accounts for most of the nation's agricultural production, and Sindh. The word Punjab is a Persian words panj meaning Five, and āb meaning Water, giving the literal meaning of the Land of the Five Rivers. The Five rivers after which Punjab is named are the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and the Sutlej. The river also supports many heavy industries and provides the main supply of potable water in Pakistan.

The ultimate source of the Indus is in Tibet; it begins at the confluence of the Sengge and Gar rivers that drain the Nganglong Kangri and Gangdise Shan mountain ranges. The Indus then flows northwest through Ladakh and Baltistan into Gilgit, just south of the Karakoram range. The Shyok River, Shigar and Gilgit streams carry glacial waters into the main river. It gradually bends to the south, coming out of the hills between Peshawar and Rawalpindi. The Indus passes gigantic gorges 4,500-5,200 metres (15,000-17,000 feet) deep near the Nanga Parbat massif. It flows swiftly across Hazara, and is dammed at the Tarbela Reservoir. The Kabul River joins it near Attock. The remainder of its route to the sea is in plains of the Punjab and Sindh, and the river becomes slow-flowing and highly braided. It is joined by Panjnad River at Mithankot. Beyond this confluence, the river, at one time, was named Satnad River (Sat = seven, Nadi = river), as the river was now carrying the waters of the Kabul River, the Indus River and the five Punjab rivers. Passing by Jamshoro, it ends in a large delta to the east of Thatta.

The Indus is one of the few rivers in the world that exhibit a tidal bore. The Indus system is largely fed by the snows and glaciers of the Himalayas, Karakoram and the Hindu Kush ranges of Tibet, the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the Northern Areas of Pakistan respectively. The flow of the river is also determined by the seasons - it diminishes greatly in the winter, while flooding its banks in the monsoon months from July to September. There is also evidence of a steady shift in the course of the river since prehistoric times - it deviated westwards from flowing into the Rann of Kutch and adjoining Banni grasslands after the 1816 earthquake[1][2].

Effects of climate change on the river

The Tibetan Plateau contains the world's third-largest store of ice. Qin Dahe, the former head of the China Meteorological Administration, said that the recent fast pace of melting and warmer temperatures will be good for agriculture and tourism in the short term; but issued a strong warning:

"Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world.... In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows. . . . In the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines of the Indus River. Once they vanish, water supplies in Pakistan will be in peril."[3]

“There is insufficient data to say what will happen to the Indus,” says David Grey, the World Bank’s senior water advisor in South Asia. “But we all have very nasty fears that the flows of the Indus could be severely, severely affected by glacier melt as a consequence of climate change,” and reduced by perhaps as much as 50 percent. “Now what does that mean to a population that lives in a desert [where], without the river, there would be no life? I don’t know the answer to that question,” he says. “But we need to be concerned about that. Deeply, deeply concerned.” [4]


Indus Valley archaeological sites in Pakistan.
Extent and major sites of the Indus Valley Civilization in pre-modern Pakistan 3000 BC.

Paleolithic sites have been discovered in Pothohar near Pakistan's capital Islamabad, with the stone tools of the Soan Culture. In ancient Gandhara, near Islamabad, evidence of cave dwellers dated 15,000 years ago has been discovered at Mardan.

The major cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, such as Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, date back to around 3300 BC, and represent some of the largest human habitations of the ancient world. The Indus Valley Civilization extended from across Pakistan, with an upward reach from east of Jhelum River to Ropar on the upper Sutlej. The coastal settlements extended from Sutkagan Dor at the Pakistan,Iran border to kutch in easternmost Pakistan. There is an Indus site on the Amu Darya at Shortughai in northern Afghanistan, and the Indus site Alamgirpur at the Hindon River is located only 28 km from Delhi. To date, over 1,052 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general region of the Ghaggar-Hakra River and its tributaries. Among the settlements were the major urban centers of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, as well as Lothal, Dholavira, Ganeriwala, and Rakhigarhi. Only 90-96 of the over-800 known Indus Valley sites have been discovered on the Indus and its tributaries. The Sutlej, now a tributary of the Indus, in Harappan times flowed into the Ghaggar-Hakra River, in the watershed of which were more Harappan sites than along the Indus.

Most scholars believe that settlements of Gandhara grave culture of the early Indo-Aryans flourished in Gandhara from 1700 BC to 600 BC, when Mohenjo-daro and Harappa had already been abandoned.

The name Indus is used in Arrian's Indica for the mighty river crossed by Alexander, based on Nearchus's contemporaneous account. "Indus" is probably a Hellenic derivative of the Iranian Hindu, in turn derived from Sindhu, the name of the Indus in the Rigveda. The Sanskrit Sindhu generically means river, stream, ocean, probably from a root sidh meaning to keep off; Sindhu is attested 176 times in the Rigveda, 95 times in the plural, more often used in the generic meaning. Already in the Rigveda, notably in the later hymns, the meaning of the word is narrowed to refer to the Indus river in particular, for example in the list of rivers of the Nadistuti sukta. This resulted in the anomaly of a river with masculine gender: all other Rigvedic rivers are female, not just grammatically, being imagined as goddesses and compared to cows and mares yielding milk and butter.

The Indus has formed a natural boundary between the Asian Subcontinent and its frontier with the Iranian Plateau, a region which includes Pakistan's Balochistan, North West Frontier Province as well as Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Iran. It has been crossed by the armies of Alexander the Great - His Macedonian forces retreated along the southern course of the river at the end of the Asian campaign after conquering what is now Pakistan and joining it to the Hellenic Empire. The Indus plains have also been under the domination of the Persian empire and the Kushan empire. The Muslim armies of Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmud of Ghazni, Mohammed Ghori, Tamerlane and Babur also crossed the river to strike into the inner regions of Punjab , Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The word "India" is derived from the Indus River. In ancient times, "India" initially referred to the region of Pakistan along the eastern banks of the Indus river, but by 300 BC, Greek writers like Megasthenes applied the term to the subcontinent which extends further eastward.[5]


The Indus river flows through Pakistan into the Arabian Sea



Confluence of Indus River. The Indus is the lower river in this picture.

The Indus River feeds the Indus submarine fan, which is the second largest sediment body on the Earth at around 5 million cubic kilometres of material eroded from the mountains. Studies of the sediment in the modern river indicate that the Karakoram Mountains in northern Pakistan are the single most important source of material, with the Himalayas providing the next largest contribution, mostly via the large rivers of the Punjab (i.e., the Jhelum, Ravi, Chenab, Beas and the Sutlej). Analysis of sediments from the Arabian Sea has demonstrated that prior to five million years ago the Indus was not connected to these Punjab rivers which instead flowed east into the Ganga and were captured after that time[6]. Earlier work showed that sand and silt from western Tibet was reaching the Arabian Sea by 45 million years ago, implying the existence of an ancient Indus River by that time[7]. The delta of this proto-Indus river has subsequently been found in the Katawaz Basin, on the Afghan-Pakistan border. The Indus according to the ancient Rigveda is the Saraswati which flowed from the Himalayas through Pakistan to the Arabian Sea.

In the Nanga Parbat region, the massive amounts of erosion due to the Indus river following the capture and rerouting through that area is thought to bring middle and lower crustal rocks to the surface[8].


Bridge on the Indus River in Pakistan

Accounts of the Indus valley from the times of Alexander's campaign indicate a healthy forest cover in the region, which has now considerably receded. The Mughal Emperor Babur writes of encountering rhinoceroses along its bank in his memoirs (the Baburnama). Extensive deforestation and human interference in the ecology of the Shivalik Hills has led to a marked deterioration in vegetation and growing conditions. The Indus valley regions are arid with poor vegetation. Agriculture is sustained largely due to irrigation works.

The blind Indus River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) is a sub-species of dolphin found only in the Indus River. It formerly also occurred in the tributaries of the Indus river. Palla fish (Hilsa) of the river is a delicacy for people living along the river. The population of fishes in the river is moderately high, with Sukkur, Thatta and Kotri being the major fishing centres - all in the lower Sindh course. But damming and irrigation has made fish farming an important economic activity. Located southeast of Karachi, the large delta has been recognised by conservationists as one of the world's most important ecological regions. Here the river turns into many marshes, streams and creeks and meets the sea at shallow levels. Here marine fishes are found in abundance, including Pomfret and Prawns.


The Indus is the most important supplier of water resources to the Punjab and Sindh plains - it forms the backbone of agriculture and food production in Pakistan. The river is especially critical as rainfall is meagre in the lower Indus valley. Irrigation canals were first built by the people of the Indus valley civilization, and later by the engineers of the Kushan Empire and the Mughal Empire. Modern irrigation was introduced by the British East India Company in 1850 - the construction of modern canals accompanied with the restoration of old canals. The British supervised the construction of one of the most complex irrigation networks in the world. The Guddu Barrage is 1,350 metres (4,450 ft) long - irrigating Sukkur, Jacobabad, Larkana and Kalat. The Sukkur Barrage serves over 20,000 square kilometres (5,000,000 acres).

After the independence of Pakistan, a water control treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 guaranteed that Pakistan would receive water from the Indus River and its two western tributaries, the Jhelum River & the Chenab River independent of upstream control by India.[9] The project, Indus Basin Project, consisted primarily of the construction of two main dams, the Mangla Dam built on the Jhelum River and the Tarbela Dam constructed on the Indus River, together with their subsidiary dams.[10] The Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority undertook the construction of the Chashma-Jhelum link canal - linking the waters of the Indus and Jhelum rivers - extending water supplies to the regions of Bahawalpur and Multan. Pakistan constructed the Tarbela Dam near Rawalpindi - standing 2743 metres (9,000 ft) long and 143 metres (470 ft) high, with an 80 kilometre (50 mile) long reservoir. The Kotri Barrage near Hyderabad is 915 metres (3,000 ft) long and provides additional supplies for Karachi. The Taunsa Barrage near Dera Ghazi Khan produces 100,000 kilowatts of electricity. The extensive linking of tributaries with the Indus has helped spread water resources to the valley of Peshawar, in the North-West Frontier Province. The extensive irrigation and dam projects provide the basis for Pakistan's large production of crops such as cotton, sugarcane and wheat. The dams also generate electricity for heavy industries and urban centres.


The Indus River near Skardu, Pakistan

The inhabitants of the regions through whom the Indus river passes and forms a major natural feature and resource are diverse in ethnicity, religion, national and linguistic backgrounds. On the northern course of the river in the province of Jammu and Kashmir live the Buddhist people of Ladakh, of Tibetan stock, and the Dards of Indo-Aryan or Dardic stock and practising Buddhism and Islam. Then it descends into Baltistan, northern Pakistan passing the main Balti city of Skardu. As it continues through Pakistan, the Indus river forms a distinctive boundary of ethnicity and cultures - upon the western banks the population is largely Pashtun, Baloch, and of other Iranic stock, with close cultural, economic and ethnic ties to eastern Afghanistan and parts of Iran. The eastern banks are largely populated by peoples of Indo-Aryan stock, such as the Punjabis, the Sindhis and the Seraikis. In northern Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province, ethnic Pashtun tribes live alongside Dardic people in the hills (Khowar, Kalash, Shina, etc.), Burushos (in Hunza), and Punjabi people. In the southern portion of the Punjab province, the Saraiki peoples speak a distinctive tongue and practise distinctive traditions. In the province of Sindh, peoples of Sindhi backgrounds form the local populations. Upon the western banks of the river live the Baloch and Pashtun peoples of Balochistan. komm[9pup8miun

Modern issues

The Indus is a strategically vital resource for Pakistan's economy and society. After the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the use of the waters of the Indus and its five eastern tributaries became a major dispute between India and Pakistan. The irrigation canals of the Sutlej valley and the Bari Doab were split - with the canals lying primarily in Pakistan and the headwork dams in India disrupting supply in some parts of Pakistan. The concern over India building large dams over various Punjab rivers that could undercut the supply flowing to Pakistan, as well as the possibility that India could divert rivers in the time of war, caused political consternation in Pakistan. Holding diplomatic talks brokered by the World Bank, India and Pakistan signed the Indus Waters Treaty in 1960. The treaty gave India control of the three easternmost rivers of the Punjab, the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi, while Pakistan gained control of the three western rivers, the Jhelum, the Chenab and the Indus. India retained the right to use of the western rivers for non irrigation projects. (See discussion regarding a recent dispute about a hydroelectric project on the Chenab (not Indus) known as the Baglihar Project).

Hindu pilgrimage to holy sites alongside the river has been a source of conflict between the two nations. Pakistan and India do not generally allow each others' citizens to cross borders for religious pilgrimages, other than Sikhs who travel to Pakistan for their annual pilgrimage.

There are concerns that extensive deforestation, industrial pollution and global warming are affecting the vegetation and wildlife of the Indus delta, while affecting agricultural production as well. There are also concerns that the Indus river may be shifting its course westwards - although the progression spans centuries. On numerous occasions, sediment clogging owing to poor maintenance of canals has affected agricultural production and vegetation. In addition, extreme heat has caused water to evaporate, leaving salt deposits that render lands useless for cultivation.

More recently and within Pakistan, the province of Punjab is seeking to cut off the flow of the river downstream to Sindh by building dams within its provincial limits in the face of opposition from the people of Sindh, storage reservoirs used to produce the bulk of food consumed by millions of Pakistanis nationwide as well as providing cheap hydel power to the country's national electric grid system. On the other hand, people of Sindh suggest to utilize the coal reserves of Thar Parker, Sindh, to meet the electricity needs.

Sindhu Darya Day (River Indus Day)

This day was celebrated on 24 January 2010 in Sindh, province of Pakistan, in order to pay tribute to River Indus. This was the first-ever Sindhu Darya Day (River Indus Day) and then Government of Sindh decided to celebrate this Day every year.

The day was announced by a famous Sindhi TV channel KTN, and later by Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah. The main reason to observe this day was to raise awareness among people about the critical situation of River Indus and also to motivate people to start struggle to make restoration of water in River Indus in Sindh possible.

A large number of women and children, activists of various political parties, including the PPP, the PML-N, the PML-F, the MQM, nationalist groups, labour federations and non-governmental organisations, wearing Sindhi caps and ajraks and keeping aside their political affiliations and ideologies, tossed flowers and rose petals into the Indus River and its related canals.

People started assembling at the riverbed at about 10 am and remained there till evening when prayers were offered for restoration of the river’s old glory. They gathered at almost all the places in Sindh from where River Indus flows to express their love for the river and reiterate their stand on the water issue

People from Tharparkar belonging to the Bheel, Kohli and Thakur communities also offered prayers according to their traditions and danced to the tune of national and Sindhi songs.

Different groups presented cultural programs on the occasion to motivate people about preserving the historic importance, uniqueness and continued flow of the river. Several organisations had set up camps and stalls and some of them distributed free food. A 12-year-old boy also paid tribute of blood to the River in Sukkur.

In Thatta, activists of social and political organisations and civil society sat in the dry riverbed and held a demonstration on Doolha Darya Khan bridge to express concern over shortage of water in the river.

Sindhis belonging to India, who came to Sindh for their own religious purposes, also celebrated this day when they heard of this call. They threw roses in the river at Saadh Belo, Sukkur.

Hindu Community of Sindh also celebrated this day in their own unique religious way. They took Aartee of River Indus and decided to celebrate this day every year as religious day of Hindu community of Sindh.

Many local and famous singers of Sindh, including Ahmed Mughal, Zamin Ali, Taj Mastani, Sadiq Faqir, Kareem Faqir, Najaf Faqir, Sanam Marvi, Zulfiqar Ali and Mazhar Hussain, entertained people from a stage set up by the Sindh Department of Culture.

Large groups of people holding flags and banners of different parties marched to the river on foot and many other in motorcade. They were led by their leaders, STP chairman Qadir Magsi, JSQM chairman Bashir Khan Qureshi, JSM chairman Riaz Chandio, Culture Minister Sassui Palijo, MPA Humera Alwani, MNA Dr Abdul Wahid Soomro, MNA Syed Ayaz Shah Shirazi and MPA Heer Soho.Several NGOs and welafare organisations also held rallies which were attended by writers, intellectuals, fishermen and common people.

Leaders of different political and social organizations said thousands of acres of agricultural land of the province became barren due to the scarcity of water. They said the people of Sindh depended on the Indus River, because the river irrigated their lands and kept the water ecology intact. They said the observance of the Indus Day was not a politically-motivated object, but the object of the day was to unite the people of Sindh to exert pressure on the authorities concerned to take notice of the shortage of irrigation water.

They said such days also promoted the culture and tradition of nations as well as to bridging the gap between the people.They pledged to continue such observances annually and asked the authorities concerned to devise a strategy to produce more water reservoirs.

See also


  1. ^ 70% of cattle-breeders desert Banni; by Narandas Thacker, TNN, 14 February 2002; The Times of India
  2. ^ Lost and forgotten: grasslands and pastoralists of Gujarat; by CHARUL BHARWADA and VINAY MAHAJAN; THE FORSAKEN DRYLANDS; a symposium on some of India'smost invisible people; SEMINAR; NEW DELHI; 2006; NUMB 564, pages 35-39; ISSN 0037-1947, Listed at the British Library Online: [1]
  3. ^ Global warming benefits to Tibet: Chinese official. Reported 18/Aug/2009.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Henry Yule: INDIA, INDIES. In Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. New ed. edited by William Crooke, B.A. London: J. Murray, 1903
  6. ^ Clift, Peter D.; Blusztajn, Jerzy (December 15, 2005). "Reorganization of the western Himalayan river system after five million years ago". Nature 438: 1001–1003. doi:10.1038/nature04379. 
  7. ^ Clift, Peter D.; Shimizu, N.; Layne, G.D.; Blusztajn, J.S.; Gaedicke, C.; Schlüter, H.-U.; Clark, M.K.; and Amjad, S. (August 2001). "Development of the Indus Fan and its significance for the erosional history of the Western Himalaya and Karakoram". GSA Bulletin 113 (8): 1039–1051. doi:10.1130/0016-7606(2001)113<1039:DOTIFA>2.0.CO;2. 
  8. ^ Zeitler, Peter K.; Koons, Peter O.; Bishop, Michael P.; Chamberlain, C. Page; Craw, David; Edwards, Michael A.; Hamidullah, Syed; Jam, Qasim M.; Kahn, M. Asif; Khattak, M. Umar Khan; Kidd, William S. F.; Mackie, Randall L.; Meltzer, Anne S.; Park, Stephen K.; Pecher, Arnaud; Poage, Michael A.; Sarker, Golam; Schneider, David A.; Seeber, Leonardo; and Shroder, John F. (October 2001). "Crustal reworking at Nanga Parbat, Pakistan: Metamorphic consequences of thermal-mechanical coupling facilitated by erosion". Tectonics 20 (5): 712–728. doi:10.1029/2000TC001243. 
  9. ^ "Tarabela Dam". www.structurae.the cat in the hat. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  10. ^ "Indus Basin Project". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 


External links

Coordinates: 24°18′43″N 67°45′49″E / 24.312059°N 67.763672°E / 24.312059; 67.763672 (Mouth of the Indus)

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

INDUS, one of the three greatest rivers of northern India.

A considerable accession of exact geographical knowledge has been gained of the upper reaches of the river Indus and its tributaries during those military and political move ments which have been so constant on the northern Himalaya. frontiers of India of recent years. The sources of the Indus are to be traced to the glaciers of the great Kailas group of peaks in 32° 20' N. and 81° E., which overlook the Mansarowar lake and the sources of the Brahmaputra, the Sutlej and the Gogra to the south-east. Three great affluents, flowing north-west, unite in about 80° E. to form the main stream, all of them, so far as we know at present, derived from the Kailas glaciers. Of these the northern tributary points the road from Ladakh to the Jhalung goldfields, and the southern, or Gar, forms a link in the great Janglam - the Tibetan trade route - which connects Ladakh with Lhasa and Lhasa with China. Gartok (about So m. from the source of this southern head of the Indus) is an important point on this trade route, and is now made accessible to Indian traders by treaty with Tibet and China. At Leh, the Ladakh capital, the river has already pursued an almost even north-westerly course for 300 m., except for a remarkable divergence to the south-west which carries it across, or through, the Ladakh range to follow the same course on the southern side that had been maintained on the north. This very remarkable instance of transverse drainage across a main mountain axis occurs in 79° E., about loo m. above Leh. For another 230 m., in a north-westerly direction, the Indus pursues a comparatively gentle and placid course over its sandy bed between the giant chains of Ladakh to the north and Zaskar (the main "snowy range" of the Himalaya) to the south, amidst an array of mountain scenery which, for the majesty of sheer altitude, is unmatched by any in the world. Then the river takes up the waters of the Shyok from the north (a tributary nearly as great as itself), having already captured the Zasvar from the south, together with innumerable minor glacier-fed streams. The Shyok is an important feature in Trans-Himalayan hydrography. Rising near the southern foot of the well-known Karakoram pass on Th affluent.e Shyok p the high road between Ladakh and Kashgar, it first drains the southern slopes of the Karakoram range, and then breaks across the axis of the Murtagh chain (of which the Karakoram is now recognized as a subsidiary extension northwards) ere bending north-westwards to run a parallel course to the Indus for 150 m. before its junction with that river. The combined streams still hold on their north-westerly trend for another loo m., deep hidden under the shadow of a vast array of snow-crowned summits, until they arrive within sight of the Rakapushi peak which pierces the north-western sky midway between Gilgit and Hunza. Here the great change of direction to the south-west occurs, which is thereafter maintained till the Indus reaches the ocean. At this point it receives the Gilgit river from the north-west, having dropped from 15,000 to 4000 ft. (at the junction of the rivers) The Gilgit after about Soo m. of mountain descent through the affluent. independent provinces of northern Kashmir. (See Gilgit). A few miles below the junction it passes Bunji, and from that point to a point beyond Chilas (50 m. below Bunji) it runs within the sphere of British interests. Then once again it resumes its "independent" course through the wild mountains of Kohistan and Hazara, receiving tribute from both sides (the Buner contribution being the most noteworthy) till it emerges into the plains of the Punjab below Darband, in 34° 10' N. All this part of the river has been mapped in more or less detail of late years. The hidden strongholds of those Hindostani fanatics who had found a refuge on its banks since Mutiny days have been swept clean, and many ancient mysteries have been solved in the course of its surveying.

From its entrance into the plains of India to its disappearance in the Indian Ocean, the Indus of to-day is the Indus of the 'fifties - modified only in some interesting particulars. It Indus of has been bridged at several important points. There the plains. ? p p are bridges even in its upper mountain courses.

There is a wooden pier bridge at Leh of two spans, and there are native suspension bridges of cane or twig-made rope swaying uneasily across the stream at many points intervening between Leh and Bunji; but the first English-made iron suspension bridge is a little above Bunji, linking up the highroad between Kashmir and Gilgit. Next occurs the iron girder railway bridge at Attock, connecting Rawalpindi with Peshawar, at which point the river narrows almost to a gorge, only goo ft. above sea-level. Twenty miles below Attock the river has carved out a central trough which is believed to be 180 ft. deep. Forty miles below Attock another great bridge has been constructed at Kushalgarh, which carries the railway to Kohat and the Kurram valley. At Mari, beyond the series of gorges which continue from Kushalgarh to the borders of the Kohat district, on the Sind-Sagar line, a boat-bridge leads to Kalabagh (the Salt city) and northwards to Kohat. Another boat-bridge opposite Dera Ismail Khan connects that place with the railway; but there is nothing new in these southern sections of the Indus valley railway system except the extraordinary development of cultivation in their immediate neighbourhood. The Lansdowne bridge at Sukkur, whose huge cantilevers stand up as a monument of British enterprise visible over the flat plains for many miles around, is one of the greatest triumphs of Indian bridge-making. Kotri has recently been connected with Hyderabad in Sind, and the Indus is now one of the best-bridged rivers in India. The intermittent navigation which was maintained by the survivals of the Indus flotilla as far north as Dera Ismail Khan long after the establishment of the railway system has ceased to exist with the dissolution of the fleet, and the high-sterned flat Indus boats once again have the channels and sandbanks of the river all to themselves.

Within the limits of Sind the vagaries of the Indus channels have necessitated a fresh survey of the entire riverain. The results, however, indicate not so much a marked departure in the general course of the river as a great variation in the channel beds within what may be termed its outside banks. Collaterally much new information has been obtained about the ancient beds of the river, the sites of ancient cities and the extraordinary developments of the Indus delta. The changing channels of the main stream since those prehistoric days when a branch of it found its way to the Runn of Cutch, through successive stages of its gradual shift westwards - a process of displacement which marked the disappearance of many populous places which were more or less dependent on the river for their water supply - to the last and greatest change of all, when the stream burst its way through the limestone ridges of Sukkur and assumed a course which has been fairly constant for 150 years, have all been traced out with systematic care by modern surveyors till the medieval history of the great river has been fully gathered from the characters written on the delta surface. That such changes of river bed and channel should have occurred within a comparatively limited period of time is the less astonishing if we remember that the Indus, like many of the greatest rivers of the world, carries down sufficient detritus to raise its own bed above the general level of the surrounding plains in an appreciable and measurable degree. At the present time the bed of the Indus is stated to be 70 ft. above the plains of the Sind frontier, some 50 m. to the west of it.

The total length of the Indus, measured directly, is about 1500 m. With its many curves and windings it stretches to about 2000 m., the Statistics . area of its basin being computed at 372,000 sq. m. Even at its lowest in winter it is 500 ft. wide at Iskardo (near the Gilgit junction) and 9 or 10 ft. deep. The temperature of the surface water during the cold season in the plains is found to be 5° below that of the air (64° and 69° F.). At the beginning of the hot season, when the river is bringing down snow water, the difference is 14° (87° and 101° June). At greater depths the difference is still greater. At Attock, where the river narrows between rocky banks, a height of 50 ft. in the flood season above lowest level is common, with a velocity of 13 m. per hour. The record rise (since British occupation of the Punjab) is 80 ft. At its junction with the Panjnad (the combined rivers of the Punjab east of the Indus) the Panjnad is twice the width of the Indus, but its mean depth is less, and its velocity little more than one-third. This discharge of the Panjnad at low season is 69,000 cubic ft. per second, that of the Indus 92,000. Below the junction the united discharge in flood season is 380,000 cubic ft., rising to 460,000 (the record in August). The Indus after receiving the other rivers carries down into Sind, in the high flood season, turbid water containing silt to the amount of 2 1 0 part by weight, or 4 by volume - equal to 6480 millions of cubic ft. in the three months of flood. This is rather less than the Ganges carries. The silt is very fine sand and clay. Unusual floods, owing to landslips or other exceptional causes, are not infrequent. The most disastrous flood of this nature occurred in 1858. It was then that the river rose 80 ft. at Attock. The most striking result of the rise was the reversal of the current of the Kabul river, which flowed backwards at the rate of so m. per hour, flooding Nowshera and causing immense damage to property. The prosperity of the province of Sind depends almost entirely on the waters of the Indus, as its various systems of canals command over nine million acres out of a cultivable area of twelve and a half million acres.

See Maclagan, Proceedings R.G.S., vol. iii.; Haig, The Indus Delta Country (London, 1894); Godwin-Austen, Proceedings R.G.S., vol. vi. (T. H. H.*)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also indus



Etymology 1

From Latin Sindus, a Latinization of Hindu, an Iranian variant of Sanskrit सिन्धु (síndhu), river, stream; Indus).

Proper noun

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  1. A large river of south-central Asia, rising in Tibet and flowing through Kashmir and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea
Derived terms
Related terms

Etymology 2

Named by Dutch explorers Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman between 1595 and 1597. From Latin Indus, "Indian".

Proper noun

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  1. (astronomy) A constellation of the southern sky between Grus and Pavo. It commemorates American Indians.
Derived terms


  • Anagrams of dinsu
  • nidus


Proper noun

Indus m.

  1. Indus, Indus River


Proper noun

Indus (genitive Indī); m, second declension

  1. The Indus River.


Indus m. (feminine Inda, neuter Indum); first/second declension

  1. Indian; of or belonging to India.


Number Singular Plural
Case \ Gender Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
nominative Indus Inda Indum Indī Indae Inda
genitive Indī Indae Indī Indōrum Indārum Indōrum
dative Indō Indae Indō Indīs Indīs Indīs
accusative Indum Indam Indum Indōs Indās Inda
ablative Indō Indā Indō Indīs Indīs Indīs
vocative Inde Inda Indum Indī Indae Inda

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