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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Indus and its tributaries

Chenab River is a major river of India and Pakistan.

Variants of name


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 start from snow melt from the Bara Lacha Pass, 32°44′N 77°26′E, in Himachal Pradesh. The waters flowing south from the pass are known as the Chandra River and those that flow north are called the Bhaga River. Eventually the Bhaga flows around to the south joining the Chandra at the village of Tandi. A motorable road runs along the Bhaga River, from Khokhsar to Tandi. The Chandra and Bhaga meet to form the Chandrabhaga River at Tandi. It becomes the Chenab when it joins the Marau River at Bhandera Kot, 12 kms from Kishtwar Town in Jammu and Kashmir.

It flows from the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir into the plains of the Punjab, forming the boundary between the Rechna and Jech interfluves (Doabs in Persian). It is joined by the Jhelum River at Trimmu تریمو and then by the Ravi River Ahmedpur Sial احمدپور سیال. It then merges with the Sutlej River near Uch Sharif, Pakistan to form the Panjnad or the 'Five Rivers', the fifth being the Beas River which joins the Sutlej near Ferozepur, India. The Chenab then joins the Indus at Mithankot.


The river was known to Indians in the Vedic period[1] as Chandrabhaga (Sanskrit: चंद्रभाग), also Ashkini (Sanskrit: अश्किनि) or Iskmati (Sanskrit: इस्कामति) and as Acesines to the Ancient Greeks.[2]

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).[3]

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.


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[4] ने लेख किया है ...असिक्नी (AS, p.53) वर्तमान चिनाब नदी (पाकिस्तान) का वैदिक नाम है। ऋग्वेद 10, 75, 5-6 में नदीसूक्त के अंतर्गत इसका उल्लेख इस प्रकार है- 'इमं में गंगे यमुने सरस्वति शतुद्रि स्तोमं सचता परुष्ण्या। असिक्न्या मरुद्वृधे वितिस्तयार्जीकीये श्रृणुह्या सुषोमया'। असिक्नी नदी अथर्ववेद में वर्णित त्रिककुद् (त्रिकूट)- पर्वत की घाटी में बहती है। ऋग्वेद से ज्ञात होता है कि पूर्व-वैदिक काल में सिंधु और असिक्नी नदियों के निकट क्रिवि लोगों का निवास था जो कालांतर में वर्तमान पश्चिमी पंजाब और मध्य उत्तर प्रदेश में पहुंच कर पांचाल कहलाए। पश्चवर्ती साहित्य में असिक्नी को चन्द्रभागा कहा गया है किंतु कई स्थानों पर असिक्नी नाम भी उपलब्ध है, यथा- श्रीमद्भागवत, 5, 19 18 में- 'मरुद्वृधा वितस्ता असिक्नी विश्वेति महानद्य:'। (देखें चंद्रभागा)


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[5] ने लेख किया है ...चंद्रभागा (AS, p.318) जम्मू कश्मीर से होती हुई पंजाब राज्य में बहने वाली चिनाब नदी है। इस नदी को वैदिक साहित्य में 'असिक्नी' नाम से सम्बोधित किया गया है। ऊपरी हिमालय पर टांडी में 'चन्द्र' और 'भाग' नदियाँ मिलती हैं, जो चिनाब नदी कहलाती हैं। महाभारत काल में इस नदी का नाम 'चंद्रभागा' भी प्रचलित हो गया था- 'शतद्रूं चंद्रभागा च यमुना च महानदीम्, दृषद्ववतीं विपाशां च विपापां स्थूलवालुकाम्'। (भीष्मपर्व 9, 15)

श्रीमदभागवत (5, 19, 18) में चन्द्रभागा और असिक्नी दोनों का नाम एक ही स्थान में है- 'शतद्रूश्चंद्रभागा मरूदवृधा वितस्ता-असिक्नी विश्वेति महानद्यः'

यहाँ चंद्रभागा के ही दूसरे नाम असिक्नी का भी उल्लेख है। ग्रीक लेखकों ने इस नदी को 'अकेसिनीज' लिखा है, जो असिक्नी का ही स्पष्ट रूपांतर है। चंद्रभागा नदी मानसरोवर (तिब्बत) के निकट चंद्रभाग नामक पर्वत से निस्सृत होती है और सिंधु नदी में गिर जाती है। श्रीमदभागवत में शायद इसी नदी की ऊपरी धारा को चंद्रभागा कहकर, पुनः शेष नदी का प्राचीन वैदिक नाम असिक्नी कहा गया है। यह भी संभव है कि प्रस्तुत उल्लेख में चंद्रभागा से दक्षिण भारत की भीमा का अभिप्राय हो, किंतु यहाँ दिए गए अन्य नामों के कारण यह संभावना कम जान पड़ती है।

विष्णु पुराण (2,3,10) में भी चंद्रभागा का उल्लेख निम्न प्रकार से है- 'शतद्रू चंद्रभागाद्याः हिमवत् पादनिर्गताः' उपर्युक्त में इस नदी को हिमालय से उदभुत माना गया है। विष्णु पुराण 4, 24, 69 ('सिंधु दार्विकोर्वी चंद्रभागाकाश्मीर विषयांश्चव्रात्यम्लेच्छशूद्रादयो भोक्ष्यन्ति') से ज्ञात होता है कि चंद्रभागा नदी का तटवर्ती प्रदेश पूर्व गुप्त काल में म्लेच्छों तथा यवन-शक आदि द्वारा शासित था।

Ch.20: Conquest of the Glausians.— Embassy from Abisares. —Passage of the Acesines (Chenab)

Arrian[6] WHEN Alexander had paid all due honours to those who had been killed in the battle, he offered the customary sacrifices to the gods in gratitude for his victory, and celebrated a gymnastic and horse contest upon the bank of the Hydaspes at the place where he first crossed with his army1. He then left Craterus behind with a part of the army, to erect and fortify the cities which he was founding there; but he himself marched against the Indians conterminous with the dominion of Porus. According to Aristobulus the name of this nation was Glauganicians; but Ptolemy calls them Glausians. I am quite indifferent which name it bore. Alexander traversed their land with half the Companion cavalry, the picked men from each phalanx of the infantry, all the horse-bowmen, the Agrianians, and the archers. All the inhabitants came over to him on terms of capitulation; and he thus took thirty-seven cities, the inhabitants of which, where they were fewest, amounted to no less then 5,000, and those of many numbered above 10000. He also took many villages, which were no less populous than the cities. This land also he granted to Porus to rule; and sent Taxiles back to his own abode after effecting a reconciliation between him and Porus. At this time arrived envoys from Abisares,2 who told him that their king was ready to surrender himself and the land which he ruled. And yet before the battle which was fought between Alexander and Porus, Abisares intended to join his forces with those of the latter. On this occasion he sent his brother with the other envoys to Alexander, taking with them money and forty elephants as a gift. Envoys also arrived from the independent Indians, and from a certain other Indian ruler named Porus.3 Alexander ordered Abisares to come to him as soon as possible, threatening that unless he came he would see him arrive with his army at a place where he would not rejoice to see him. At this time Phrataphernes, viceroy of Parthia and Hyrcania, came to Alexander at the head of the Thracians who had been left with him. Messengers also came from Sisicottus, viceroy of the Assacenians, to inform him that those people had slain their governor and revolted from Alexander. Against these he dispatched Philip and Tyriaspes with an army, to arrange and set in order the affairs of their land. He himself advanced towards the river Acesines.4 Ptolemy, son of Lagus, has described the size of this river alone of those in India, stating that where Alexander crossed it with his army upon boats and skins, the stream was rapid and the channel was full of large and sharp rocks, over which the water being violently carried seethed and dashed. He says also that its breadth amounted to fifteen stades; that those who went over upon skins had an easy passage but that not a few of those who crossed in the boats perished there in the water, many of the boats being wrecked upon the rocks and dashed to pieces. From this description theft it would be possible for one to come to a conclusion by comparison, that the size of the river Indus has been stated not far from the fact by those who think that its mean breadth is forty stades, but that it contracts to fifteen stades where it is narrowest and therefore deepest; and that this is the width of the Indus in many places. I come then to the conclusion that Alexander chose a part of the Acesines where the passage was widest, so that he might find the stream slower than elsewhere.

1. Diodorus (xvii. 89), says Alexander made a halt of 30 days after this battle.

2. Cf. Arrian, v. 8 supra, where an earlier embassy from Abisares is mentioned.

3. Strabo (xv. 1) says that this Porus was a cousin of the Porus captured by Alexander.

4. This is the Chenab. See Arrian (Indica, iii.), who says that where it joins the Indus it is 30 stades broad.



  1. Yule, Henry; Arthur Coke Burnell; William Crooke. "Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of Anglo-Indian colloquial words & phrases and of kindred terms". Pg.741.
  2. 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chenab
  3. Alexandria (Uch)
  4. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.53.
  5. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.318
  6. Arrian:The Anabasis of Alexander/5b, Ch.20

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