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Indus River Sindh


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Indus River Sindh
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heritagepakistan
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Indus River Sindh
The Indus River Sindh Sindhi Sindhu Punjabi Shahmukhi: سندھ, Gurmukhi Sindhu; Hindi and Sanskrit: Sindhu; Persian: Hindu ; Pashto: Abasin ّFather of Rivers”; Tibetan: Sengge Chu “Lion River”; Chinese: Yìndù; Greek: Ινδός Indos} is the longest and most important river in Pakistan. It is the longest river and the third largest river, in terms of annual flow, in the Indian subcontinent. The British used the name ‘India’ for the entire subcontinent based on the appellation of this river. Originating in the Tibetan plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar, the river runs a course through Ladakh district of Jammu & Kashmir and Northern Areas, flowing through the North in a southerly direction along the entire length of the country, to merge into the Arabian Sea near Pakistan’s port city Karachi. The total length of the river is 3,180 kilometres (1,976 miles). The river has a total drainage area exceeding 1,165,000 square kilometres (450,000 square miles). The river’s estimated annual flow stands at around 207 cubic kilometres. 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 the extinct Sarasvati River, the Indus forms the Sapta Sindhu (”Seven Rivers”) delta in the Sindh province of Pakistan. It has 20 major tributaries.

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 combination of the Persian words ‘panj’ (پنج) Five, and ‘āb’ (آب) Water, giving the literal meaning of the Land of the Five Rivers. The five rivers after which Punjab is named are the Beas, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi and 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-Baltistan into Gilgit, just south of the Karakoram range. The Shyok, 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) high near the Nanga Parbat massif. It swiftly flows 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 Sind, 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 Kabul River, 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 Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Himalayan ranges of Tibet, Kashmir and Northern Areas of Pakistan. 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.

History

Ladakh, KashmirPaleolithic sites have been discovered in Pothohar, with the stone tools of the Soan Culture. In ancient Gandhara, 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 Balochistan to Gujarat, with an upward reach to the darcon(?) from east of Jhelum River to Rupar on the upper Sutlej. The coastal settlements extended from Sutkagan Dor at the Iranian border to Lothal in Gujarat. There is an Indus site on the Oxus river at Shortughai in northern Afghanistan (Kenoyer 1998:96), and the Indus site Alamgirpur at the Hindon River is located only 28 km from Delhi (S.P. Gupta 1995:183). 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 (S.P. Gupta 1995: 183).

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

HighwaThe name Indus is a Latinization of Hindu, in turn the Iranian variant of Sindhu, the name of the Indus in the Rigveda. Sanskrit sindhu generically means “river, stream”, probably from a root sidh “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 hinterland and its frontier with Afghanistan and Iran. It has been crossed by the armies of Alexander the Great – Macedonian forces retreated along the southern course of the river at the end of the Indian campaign. 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 and Babur also crossed the river to strike into the inner regions of Gujarat, Punjab and Rajputana.

The word “India” is a reference to the Indus River. In ancient times, India referred to the region of modern day Pakistan along the Indus river which traded extensively with the ancient world. It was only after the arrival of the British in the 16th century that name began to be applied to the entire region. Incidently, Pakistan’s founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah was quite surprised to learn that upon the departure of Britain from the region, that its new neighboor to the east was going to retain the name India as the country’s official name

Modern issues

Due to its location and vast water resources, the Indus is a strategically vital resource for Pakistan’s economy and society. After the partition of British India 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, Sutlej, Beas and the Ravi, while Pakistan gained control of the three western rivers, Jhelum, 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 Baghlighar project).

Hindu pilgrimage to holy sites alongside the river has been a source of conflict between the nations. Pakistan does generally allow Indian citizens to visit the country for religious purposes, However, owing to the volatile nature of bilateral relations, most pilgrimage and religious ceremonies are performed by Hindus in Kashmir.

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.
Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:46 am View user's profile Send private message
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