Indus River

river in Asia
(Redirected from Indus river)

The Indus River (Urdu: دریائے سندھ) is the greatest river on the western side of the subcontinent. It was the birthplace of the bronze age Indus Valley civilization and the Gandhara civilization. Indus river is the national and the longest river in Pakistan.[5] It flows through Tibet, Ladakh and throughout Pakistan. It is one of the main rivers of the Indo-Gangetic Plain.

Sindh / Sindhu / Mehran[1]
The Indus Gorge is formed as the Indus River bends around the Nanga Parbat massif, shown towering behind, defining the western anchor of the Himalayan mountain range.
The course and major tributaries of the Indus river
CountryChina, India, Pakistan
Sovereignty in the Kashmir region is disputed
States and ProvincesTibet Autonomous Region, Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh,
CitiesLeh, Skardu, Dasu, Besham, Thakot, Swabi, Dera Ismail Khan, Bhakkar, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Karachi
Physical characteristics
SourceLake Manasarovar[2]
 - locationTibetan Plateau
Source confluence 
 - locationShiquanhe, Ngari Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China
 - coordinates32°29′54″N 79°41′28″E / 32.49833°N 79.69111°E / 32.49833; 79.69111
 - elevation4,255 m (13,960 ft)
MouthArabian Sea (primary), Rann of Kutch (secondary)
 - locationIndus River Delta (primary), Kori Creek (secondary), Pakistan, India
 - coordinates23°59′40″N 67°25′51″E / 23.99444°N 67.43083°E / 23.99444; 67.43083
 - elevation0 m (0 ft)
Length3,180 km (1,980 mi) as Mapped. 3,249 km (2,019 mi) actual as mentioned in History Books.
Basin size1,165,000 km2 (450,000 sq mi) 1,081,718 km2 (417,654 sq mi)[3]
 - locationIndus Delta, Arabian Sea, Pakistan
 - average5,533 m3/s (195,400 cu ft/s)[3]
 - minimum1,200 m3/s (42,000 cu ft/s)
 - maximum58,000 m3/s (2,000,000 cu ft/s)
 - locationSukkur
 - average5,673.486 m3/s (200,357.3 cu ft/s)[4]
 - locationMithankot
 - average5,812.326 m3/s (205,260.4 cu ft/s)[4]
 - locationTarbela Dam
 - average2,469 m3/s (87,200 cu ft/s)
Basin features
 - leftZanskar River, Suru River, Soan River, Panjnad River, Ghaggar-Hakra River, Luni River
 - rightShyok River, Hunza River, Gilgit River, Swat River, Kunar River, Kabul River, Kurram River, Gomal River, Zhob River
Babur crossing the Indus River.

The river is 3180 km long. It is Pakistan's longest river. The river has a total drainage area exceeding 1,165,000 km2 (450,000 sq mi). Its estimated annual flow stands at around 207 km3 (50 cu mi), making it the twenty-first largest river in the world in terms of annual flow. It discharges about 6,600 cubic meters per second.

The word Indus and the related word "Hindu" are derived from the Sanskrit word Sindhu.[6] The Ancient Greeks used the word Indós; Hinduš was Old Persian; Sindhu in Sindhi and Sanskrit. Latest languages on the sub-continent use either Sindh (modern Sindhi) or Sindhu or very similar words. The name of India and Indonesia are both derived from the Indus river of Pakistan.[7]

River basin


Over 70% of the total area of the Indus drainage basin is in Pakistan. India, Tibet and Afghanistan also hold some part of the Indus basin catchment area.

The Indus water system of rivers comprises the main Indus and its major tributaries: the Kabul River and Kurram River on the right bank, and the Jhelum River, Chenab River, Ravi River, Beas River and the Sutlej on the left. The first two join the Indus soon after it leaves the mountains, and the others lower down in the plains. The whole of the Beas and the head reaches of the Ravi and Sutlej are in the Republic of India, while those of the Chenab and Jhelum lie mostly in the disputed Kashmir state.

The entire basin covers an area of about 384,000 square miles of open land, of which 204,000 lie in Pakistan. In addition, there are about 29,000 square miles which lie outside the Indus basin but are dependent on the Indus river system for their water requirements and irrigation supplies.

Without the Indus waters, agriculture in Pakistan would be very uncertain, because there is not much rain. Even now when Pakistan is being rapidly industrialised, it needs its water resources, because much of its industry uses agriculture produce for its raw materials. Almost all of the basin in Pakistan receives an overall rainfull of less than 15 inches, 60% of its area receiving less than 10 inches, while, 16% receives less than 5 inches. The rainfull is not evenly distributed throughout the year but is concentrated during the monsoons.



Rising in western Tibet, the Indus runs at first across a high plateau, then the ground falls away and the river, dropping rapidly, gathering momentum and rushing north-west, collects the waters from innumerable glacier-fed streams, and runs north-west between the world's greatest mountain ranges, the Karakoram and the Himalayas. In Kashmir it crosses the United Nations cease-fire line and, in Baltistan District, enters Azad Kashmir. From here on it is Pakistan's river; Pakistan's first town on the upper Indus, Skardu, at 7,500 feet above sea-level, stands on a bluff near the junction of the Indus and one of its great right-bank tributaries, the Shigar. The majority of the people live in Skardu town; others inhabit small and scattered villages along the Indus and Shigar valleys, or tiny hamlets high on the surrounding mountains.


  1. Ahmad, Nafis; Lodrick, Deryck (6 February 2019). "Indus River". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  2. Ahmad, Ijaz; Zhang, Fan; Tayyab, Muhammad; Anjum, Muhammad Naveed; Zaman, Muhammad; Liu, Junguo; Farid, Hafiz Umar; Saddique, Qaisar (2018-11-15). "Spatiotemporal analysis of precipitation variability in annual, seasonal and extreme values over upper Indus River basin". Atmospheric Research. 213: 346–60. Bibcode:2018AtmRe.213..346A. doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2018.06.019. ISSN 0169-8095. S2CID 125980503.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Amir, Khan; Naresh, Pant; Anuj, Goswami; Ravish, Lal; Rajesh, Joshi (Dec 2015). "Critical Evaluation and Assessment of Average Annual Precipitation in The Indus, The Ganges and The Brahmaputra Basins, Northern India - Himalayan Cryospheric Observations and Modelling (HiCOM)".
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Rivers Network". 2020. Archived from the original on 2022-06-29. Retrieved 2022-07-31.
  5. usman (2023-01-26). "What are the Six Rivers in Pakistan?". Noon Academy. Retrieved 2023-12-01.[permanent dead link]
  6. "Cognate" means descended from a common ancestor, of the same family, coming from the same stock or root. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, vol 1, p337.
  7. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary vol 2, p989.

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