Five Rivers of Punjab

The state of Punjab is known as the land of five rivers, due to the five major rivers flowing through this region. These rivers are the most important geographical feature of this area and have given the name Punjab (‘Punj’ means Five + ‘Aab’ means Water) to this land.

The names of the five rivers of Punjab are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Satluj. All these rivers are tributaries of the Indus river and converge together to form the Panjnad river which ultimately flows into the Indus river. The mighty Indus then terminates into the Arabian Sea near Karachi city in Pakistan.

All these rivers together with the Indus river are considered part of the Indus Valley River System.
This region is referred to as Pancha-nada in Puranas and Mahabharata, which also means the land of five rivers. The ancient Greeks referred to this region as Pentapotamia, which means an inland delta of five converging rivers. It means that these rivers are draining this land since ancient times.

Now many students ask how many rivers in Punjab today? As of today, only three rivers namely Satluj, Beas, and Ravi flow through the Punjab state of India. Ravi flows partially in Punjab, mainly along the international boundary of India and Pakistan, and then enters Pakistan. The other two rivers Jhelum and Chenab flow in the Punjab state of Pakistan.

Indus Waters Treaty: All the rivers of the Indus Valley River System flow through India and then enter Pakistan. To share the waters of these rivers between the two countries, a treaty called Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) was signed by India and Pakistan in 1960 in Karachi.

The agreement was brokered by World Bank and it was signed by Jawaharlal Nehru (P.M. of India) and Ayub Khan (President of Pakistan). According to this treaty, the waters of three eastern rivers i.e. Satluj, Beas, and Ravi are allocated to India, and waters of three western rivers i.e. Chenab, Jhelum, and Indus are assigned to Pakistan.

List of Five Rivers of Punjab

A list of five rivers of Punjab with details like place of origion, its path, tributaries of each river, merging with the other rivers or ocean and other important details are given below:

  1. Satluj
  2. Ravi
  3. Beas
  4. Jhelum
  5. Chenab

The following table shows a summary of all the five rivers of Punjab:

River NameLength (In KM)Place of OriginTerminates In
Satluj1500Rakshastal lake in TibetChenab river
Beas470Beas Kund in Himalayas, Himachal PradeshSutlej river at Harike in Tarn Taran district
Ravi720Kangra district of Himachal PradeshChenab river
Chenab960Upper Himalayas in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal PradeshMerge with Sutlej and forms Panjnad river, which flows into Indus river
Jhelum725Verinag spring in KashmirChenab river

Satluj River in Punjab

Satluj (or Sutlej) is the easternmost tributary of the Indus river. Its Sanskrit name is Shatadru. The source of origin is Rakshastal Lake in Tibet. Some geologists consider the source as Mansarovar lake. The two lakes Mansrover and Rakshastal are very huge lakes in the Tibet region and close to each other.

The water of Mansrover lake overflows into Rakshastal lake. The river enters India in Himachal Pradesh and then enters the Ropar district of Punjab. The river Beas merges with it at Harike in Tarn Taran district. It unites with the Chenab river near Uch Sharif in Pakistan, forming the Panjnad river.

The Panjnad river merges with the Indus river at a distance of 100 Km from Bahawalpur city in Pakistan. The total length of Sutlej is around 1500 Km. This is the longest river in Punjab.

Bhakra Dam is one of the biggest dams in India and its reservoir Gobind Sagar Lake is the second-largest reservoir in India in terms of water storage capacity. Nangal Dam, Karcham Wangtoo Dam, Nathpa Jhakri Dam are the other main dams on this river.

Ravi River in Punjab

The Vedic name of Ravi is Purushini and its name is Iravati in Sanskrit. Ravi river rises in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh and enters into Punjab in Pathankot district. The river flows along the international border of India and Pakistan separating the Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts of Punjab from Pakistan.

It flows for a total length of around 720 Km and finally terminates by merging with the Chenab river near Ahmadpur Sial town in Pakistan. Major dams on this river are Ranjit Sagar dam (or Thein Dam), Shahpur Kandi dam, Chamera dam, Karcham dam and Kaushalya dam.

Beas River in Punjab

Beas river is named Arjikiya in Vedas and the ancient name in Sanskrit is Vipasa. Beas river originates from Beas Kund (also called Vyas Kund) in the Himalaya mountains in Himachal Pradesh. It enters Punjab in the Hoshiarpur district. The total length of the river is approximately 470 Km and terminates by merging with the Sutlej river at Harike in Tarn Taran district of Punjab.

Pong dam and Pandoh dam are the two main dams built on this river. Pong Dam, also called Maharana Partap Sagar, is located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Pandoh dam is located in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh and it diverts the waters of Beas river to Sutlej river.

Jhelum River in Punjab

The Vedic and Sanskrit name of the Jhelum river is Vitasta and it was known as Hydaspes to ancient greeks. Jhelum river originates through Verinag Spring located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The place is located in Verinag, around 80 Km distance from Srinagar.

It is the westernmost of the five rivers of Punjab and is a tributary of the Chenab river. The river flows through Jammu and Kashmir state in India and then enters Punjab state in Pakistan. It does not flow through the state of Punjab in India, nor touch its boundary at any place. The total length of the river is around 725 Km and it terminates into the Chenab river near Trimmu in the Jhang district.

The famous battle between Alexander (known as Sikander in Indian texts) and King Porus was fought on the banks of this river and is known as the Battle of Hydaspes.

Chenab River in Punjab

This river is known by the name Askani in Vedas and its Sanskrit name is Chandrabahga. Chenab river starts in the upper Himalayas in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. It then flows through the Jammu region in Jammu and Kashmir state and enters into Punjab state in Pakistan.

The river does not flow through today’s state of Punjab in India. The total length of this river is around 960 Km. The river Jhelum joins it at Trimmu and then Ravi joins it near Ahmedpur Sial. It then merges with Sutlej to form the Panjnad river. The Panjnad river then merges with the Indus river which terminates by flowing into the Arabian Sea.

Doab Regions In Punjab The area between two rivers is called Doab, which literally means the land between two rivers. The word Doab is made of two Persian words “Do” meaning two and “Aab” meaning water or river. So according to the rivers flowing in this region, the area is divided into various Doabs which are named according to the name of the rivers that form a particular doab. The names of these Doab regions are given below:

  • Bist Doab – The area between Beas and Sutlej rivers is called Bist Doab. The region is also called as Jullundhar Doab, after the name of major city of Jullundhar or Jalandhar in this region. This is also called as “Doaba” and “Doabi” dialect of Punjabi language is the main spoken language of this area. Punjab state is divided into three regions Majha, Malwa and Doaba according to the language and culture.
  • Bari Doab – The area enclosed between Beas and Ravi rivers is called Bari doab. This is part of the Majha region of Punjab. Majhi dialect of Punjabi language is the main spoken language of this area.
  • Rechna Doab – This is the area between Ravi and Chenab rivers. This area is in Punjab province in Pakistan. This is also part of Majha region.
  • Jech Doab – This is the area between Jhelum river and Chenab river and named so as of combination of names of these two rivers. This is also part of Majha region.
  • Sind Sagar Doab – This is the area between Jhelum and Indus (also called Sind) rivers.

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