Chenab River – A Major River of India and Pakistan

By | September 20, 2016

The Chenab River is a major river of India and Pakistan. It forms in the upper Himalayas in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, India, and flows through the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir into the plains of the Punjab, Pakistan. The waters of the Chenab are allocated to Pakistan under the terms of the Indus Waters Treaty.

Chenab is one of the “five rivers” of the Punjab, 675 mi (1,086 km) long, rising in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh and flowing North West through the Kashmir Himalayas, then South West through Pakistani Punjab to join the Sutlej River.

History of Chenab River

The river was known to Indians in the Vedic period as Chandrabhaga also Ashkini or Iskmati and as Acesines to the Ancient Greeks. In 325 BC,Alexander the Great allegedly founded the town of Alexandria on the Indus (present day Uch Sharif or Mithankotor Chacharan in Pakistan) at the confluence of the Indus and the combined stream of Punjab rivers (currently known as the Panjnad River).

The Chenab has the same place in the consciousness of the people of the Punjab as, say, the Rhine holds for the Germans, or the Danube for the Austrians and the Hungarians. It is the iconic river around which Punjabi consciousness revolves, and plays a prominent part in the tale of Heer Ranjha, the Punjabi national epic and the legend of Sohni Mahiwal.

This river has been in the news of late due to the steps taken by the Indian government to build a number of hydropower dams along its length (in India) most notably the Baglihar hydel power project(expected time of completion 2008). This is a result of the Indus Basin Project. These planned projects on Chenab have been hotly contested by Pakistan which says that India is breaking the terms and clauses of the Indus water treaty by storing and channelling the waters of this river, a claim totally rejected by the Indian government.

Tributaries of Chenab River

The tributaries of the Chenab River include Miyar Nalla, Sohal, Thirot, Bhut Nalla, Marusudar and Lidrari. Marusudar is regarded as the biggest tributary of Chenab and joins Chenab in Bhandalkot. Kalnai, Neeru, Bichleri, Raghi and join the Chenab between Kishtwar and the Akhnoor region. Chenab is joined by Tawi as well as Manawar Tawi within Pakistan.  The Ravi and Jhelum rivers are the chief tributaries.

Also Read: ( Brief History and Story of Surinsar and Mansar Lake )

Gallery of Chenab River

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Some Important Information

Length of Chenab River960 km (597 mi) approx.
Source of Chenab RiverBara-Lacha La pass
CountriesIndia, Pakistan
BridgesChenab Bridge, Chund Bridge, Chiniot Bridge


As per the terms of the Indus Water Treaty, the waters of Chenab have been allocated to Pakistan. Baglihar Dam also called Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project was constructed in two phases on Chenab River in the southern Doda district. There was a great deal of design controversy, with Pakistain claiming that the project violated the terms of Indus Water Treaty. However, in 2010 all the related issues were amicably resolved. The Chenab River holds an important place in the life of people of Punjab and plays a crucial role in the iconic Heer Ranjha and Sohni Mahiwal tales.


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