Open main menu

The Chenab River (Punjabi: ਚਨਾਬ cenab; Urdu: چناب‎), known traditionally as the Chandrabhaga River (Sanskrit: चन्द्रभागा),[3] is a major river that flows in India and Pakistan, and is one of the 5 major rivers of the Punjab region. It rises in the upper Himalayas in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh state, India, and flows through the Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Reasi and Jammu districts of Jammu region in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir into the plains of Punjab, Pakistan, before flowing into the Indus River near the city of Uch Sharif. The waters of the Chenab were allocated to Pakistan under the terms of the Indus Waters Treaty.[4][5]

Chenab ਚਨਾਬ / چناب
Chenab River in Akhanoor, India.jpg
Location of the Chenab on a map of the Indus river and its tributaries
CountryIndia, Pakistan
Physical characteristics
SourceBaralacha La pass
 ⁃ locationIndia Himachal Pradesh
 ⁃ coordinates32°38′09″N 77°28′51″E / 32.63583°N 77.48083°E / 32.63583; 77.48083
MouthConfluence with Sutlej to form the Panjnad River
 ⁃ location
Bahawalpur district, Punjab, Pakistan
 ⁃ coordinates
29°20′57″N 71°1′41″E / 29.34917°N 71.02806°E / 29.34917; 71.02806Coordinates: 29°20′57″N 71°1′41″E / 29.34917°N 71.02806°E / 29.34917; 71.02806
Length960 km (600 mi)approx.
 ⁃ locationAkhnoor[1]
 ⁃ average800.6 m3/s (28,270 cu ft/s)
Basin features
 ⁃ rightMarusadar River[2]

The river is formed by the confluence of two rivers, Chandra and Bhaga, at Tandi, 8 km southwest of Kyelang, in the Lahaul and Spiti district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The Bhaga river originates from Surya taal lake, which is situated a few kilometers east of the Bara-lacha la pass in the in Himachal Pradesh. The Chandra river originates from glaciers east of the same pass.[6] This pass also acts as a water-divide between these two rivers.[7] The Chandra river transverses 115 km (71 mi) before the confluence. The Bhaga river transverses through narrow gorges a distance of 60 km (37 mi) before the confluence at Tandi.[8]



The Chenab river was called Asikni (Sanskrit: असिक्नी) in the Rigveda (VIII.20.25, X.75.5). The name meant that it was seen to have dark-coloured waters.[9][10] The term Krishana is also found in the Atharvaveda.[11] A later form of Askikni was Iskamati (Sanskrit: इस्कामति)[citation needed] and the Greek form was Ancient Greek: Ἀκεσίνης - Akesínes; Latinized to Acesines.[12][9][10]

In the Mahabharata, the common name of the river was Chandrabhaga (Sanskrit: चंद्रभाग) because the river is formed from the confluence of the Chandra and the Bhaga rivers.[11] This name was also known to the Ancient Greeks, who Hellenised it in various forms such as Sandrophagos, Sandabaga and Cantabra.[10] The similarity of Sandrophagos (Σανδροφάγος) to Androphagos (Ἀνδροφάγος), meaning cannibals, or to Alexandrophagos (Ἀλεξανδροφάγος), meaning those who would eat Alexander, likely caused the followers of Alexander to change the name to avoid the evil omen, the more so perhaps on account of the disaster which befell the Macedonian fleet at the turbulent junction of the river with the Hydaspes (modern Jhelum River).[12]

The simplification of Chandrabhaga to 'Chenab', with evident Persianate influence, probably occurred in early medieval times and is witnessed in Alberuni.[13]


The river was known to Indians in the Vedic period[14][15][16] In 325 BC, Alexander the Great allegedly founded the town of Alexandria on the Indus (present day Uch Sharif or Mithankot or Chacharan in Pakistan) at the confluence of the Indus and the combined stream of Punjab rivers (currently known as the Panjnad River).[17]


The river has rich power generation potential in India.

Old bridge over Chenab river at Ramban, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Chenab Bridge, World’s highest rail bridge

See alsoEdit


  1. ^[permanent dead link], ORNL, Retrieved 8 Dec 2016
  2. ^ "Construction of power projects over Chenab". Business Recorder. 26 August 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  3. ^ Handa, O. C.; Omacanda Hāṇḍā (1994), Buddhist Art & Antiquities of Himachal Pradesh, Upto 8th Century A.D., Indus Publishing, pp. 126–, ISBN 978-81-85182-99-5
  4. ^ "River Chenab" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Indus Waters Treaty". The World Bank. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  6. ^ Gosal, G.S. (2004). "Physical Geography of the Punjab" (PDF). Journal of Punjab Studies. Center for Sikh and Punjab Studies, University of California. 11 (1): 31. ISSN 0971-5223. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  7. ^ R. K. Pant; N. R. Phadtare; L. S. Chamyal & Navin Juyal (June 2005). "Quaternary deposits in Ladakh and Karakoram Himalaya: A treasure trove of the palaeoclimate records" (PDF). Current Science. 88 (11): 1789–1798. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
  8. ^ Lahaul & Spiti
  9. ^ a b Kapoor, Subodh (2002), Encyclopaedia of Ancient Indian Geography, Cosmo Publications, p. 80, ISBN 978-81-7755-298-0
  10. ^ a b c Kaul, Antiquities of the Chenāb Valley in Jammu 2001, p. 1.
  11. ^ a b Kaul, Antiquities of the Chenāb Valley in Jammu 2001, p. 2.
  12. ^ a b   Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "Acesines". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
  13. ^ Kazmi, Hasan Askari (1995), The makers of medieval Muslim geography: Alberuni, Renaissance, p. 124
  14. ^ Yule, Henry; Burnell, Arthur Coke; Crooke, William. "Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of Anglo-Indian colloquial words & phrases and of kindred terms". p. 741.
  15. ^, Chenab River on Encyclopædia Britannica, Retrieved 8 Dec 2016
  16. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica article on the Chenab
  17. ^ Alexandria (Uch)