Beas River

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Indus and its tributaries

Beas River (Hindi: ब्यास, Punjabi: ਬਿਆਸ) is a river in north India.

Variants of name

Mention by Panini

Vipasha (विपाश) is a place name mentioned by Panini under Arihanadi (अरीहणादि) ( group. [1]


The river rises in the Himalayas in central Himachal Pradesh, India, and flows for some 470 kms to the Sutlej River in the Indian state of Punjab.


The river was also known as Arjikuja of the Vedas, or Vipasa to the ancient Indians, and the Hyphasis to the Ancient Greeks.[2]

It is said that Beas is a misnomer for Vyasa (exchange of B with V and always truncation of the last vowel is common in North Indian languages) and is named after Veda Vyasa, the presiding patron of the river; he is said to have created it from its source lake, the Vyas Kund.[3]

The Beas River marks the eastern-most border of Alexander the Great's conquests in 326 BC. It was one of the rivers which created problems in Alexander's invasion of India. His troops mutinied here in 326 BCE, refusing to go any further; they had been away from home for eight years. Alexander shut himself in his tent for three days, but when his men did not change their desires he gave in, raising twelve colossal altars to mark the limit and glory of his expedition.[4][5]


The river rises 4,361 metres above sea-level on the southern face of Rohtang Pass in Kullu. It traverses the Mandi District and enters the Kangra District at Sandhol, 590 metres above sea-level. On meeting the Sivalik Hills in Hoshiarpur, the river sweeps sharply northward, forming the boundary with Kangra District. Then bending round the base of the Sivalik Hills, it takes the southerly direction, separating the districts of Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. After touching the Jullundur district for a short distance, the river forms the boundary between Amritsar and Kapurthala. Finally the Beas joins the river Sutlej at the south-western boundary of Kapurthala district of Punjab after a total course of 470 kms.

The chief tributaries are Bain, Banganga, Luni and Uhal. The Sutlej continues into Pakistani Punjab and joins the Chenab River at Uch near Bahawalpur to form the Panjnad River; the latter in turn joins the Indus River at Mithankot.

In Mahabharata

Sabha Parva, Mahabharata/Book II Chapter 9 mentions rivers in verses-18-20

There are also the four oceans, the river Bhagirathi, the Kalindi, the Vidisa, the Venwa, the Narmada of rapid current; the Vipasa, the Satadru, the Chandrabhaga, the Saraswati; the Iravati, the Vitasta, the Sindhu, the Devanadi; the Godavari, the Krishnavenwa and that queen of rivers the Kaveri;

तदा समुथ्राश चत्वारॊ नथी भागीरथी च या
कालिन्दी विदिशा वेण्णा नर्मदा :वेगवाहिनी Mahabharata (II.9.18)
विपाशाशतद्रुशचन्थ्र भागासरस्वती
इरावती वितस्तासिन्धुर थेव नथस तदा Mahabharata (II.9.19)
गॊदावरी कृष्ण वेण्णा कावेरी च सरिथ वरा
एताश चान्याश च सरितस तीर्दानि च सरांसि च Mahabharata (II.9.20)


  1. V. S. Agrawala: India as Known to Panini, 1953, p.501
  2. Beas The Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 7, p. 138
  3. Wasini Pandey, Bindhy. Geoenvironmental hazards in Himalaya. Pg.58.
  4. Travels into Bokhara, Lieut. Alex. Burnes FRS, London, John Murray, 1834, page 6
  5. The Empire and Expeditions of Alexander the Great

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