Indus River System: Download Indus River System and its Tributaries Notes PDF

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : July 22nd, 2022

Indus River System is a Himalayan river system and is one of the largest river basins in the world. The Indus Rivier is also known as Sindhu. Therefore, the Sindhu River System is a part of one of the most fertile regions of the Indian sub-continent and the world. Some of the Indian subcontinent's river systems existed long before civilizations existed. One such river system is the Indus River System.

The main Tributaries of the Indus River form the Indus River System, which includes Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Satluj. As the Indus River flows through both India and Pakistan, the Indus water treaty was signed in 1960 for water sharing. Indus River System UPSC topic is an important part of Geography and can be asked in both Prelims and Mains.

Table of Content

What is the Indus River System?

On the basis of the Indus River system, one of the oldest human civilizations was not only developed but also named the Indus Valley Civilization.

  • The name Indus River System has been given because the main river of this system is known as the Indus.
  • The Indus river is also known as the "Sindhu" river in the Sanskrit language.
  • Apart from Sanskrit, the description of Indus in the Greek language is also found as the' Sinthos’.

The Indus river system is comprised of six perennial rivers, namely: the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Satluj, and Beas.

The importance of the Indus River System for the Indian sub-continent can be derived from the fact that the name of our country ‘India’ has been extracted from the word ‘Indus’.

Overview of Indus River System

It is important to understand the distribution of the Indus River System in India and Pakistan and also State-wise distribution in India. As per Indus Water Treaty 1960, Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab are under Pakistan, and Rabi, Beas, and Satluj are under India as a water-distribution treaty.

  • Flows through J&K- Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, and Rabi
  • Chenab, Rabi, Beas, and Satluj flow through Himachal Pradesh with the Yamuna
  • Rabi, Beas, Satlu, and Chenab flow through Punjab with Ghaggar

Indus River System also expands to Haryana and Rajasthan through the canal.

Tributaries of the Indus River

Go through the detailed Tributaries of the Indus River and understand all important points regarding Sindhu Water System.


Place of origin

Indus River System Tributaries 

Multipurpose Projects



Bokhar Chu- Near Manasarovar lake, Tibet

Zaskar (Ladakh), Astor Nanga Parbat), Chenab, Sutlej, Soan, Beas, Ravi, Dras, Suru (Indus), Jhelum, Kishanganga, R. Shyok, Gilgit


Mangla Dam (Jhelum)

Tarbela Dam(Indus)

Ghazi Barotha Hydroelectric



Distribution as per IWT, 1960


Verinag spring (Pir Panjal Range)

Kishanganga (Right) Neelum Kunhar Poonch

Mangla Dam Rasul Barrage



Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh: Bara Lacha pass

Headward Tributaries: Chandra(Zozi La) Bhaga (Baracha La) R. Tavi

Salal Project Dhulhasti Dam, Baglihar Dam Trimmu Barrage

Himachal Pradesh, J&K


Kullu hills, West to Rohtang Pass

R. Soul (Valley: Rich timber trees Garden of Chamba)

R. Budhil

R. Nai/Dhona Battle of the ten kings was fought

Thein (Ranjit Sagar) Dam



Near Rohtang Pass, Beas Kund-H.P (southern end at Pir Panjal)

Parbati - Created problems in Alexander's invasion of India 2014

Beas River Tragedy: Flood gates of the Larji dam were opened

Beas Project, Pong Dam Pandoh Dam

Punjab and Haryana


Manasarovar- Rakas Lakes Enters India through Shipki la Pass

T Spiti Proposal to build a 214- kilometer (133 mi) long heavy freight canal, to be known as the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) in India to connect the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers

Bhakra Nangal Project, Harike, Sirhind, Gobind Ballabh Sagar, Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Plant, Neptha Jhakhari Dam

Punjab, HP, North of the Vindhya Range, South of the Hindu) Kush segment of the Himalayas, and East of the Central Sulaiman Range in Pak

Description of the Indus River System

With 2900 km of total length, the Indus River System is one of the longest river systems in the sub-continent. The total drainage area of the Indus river system is around 11 lakh 65 thousand square kilometers. However, most of this area has now been included in Pakistan.

The rivers included in the Indus river system are explained down under with their point of origin-

Indus River

The Indus is the main river of this river system and originates from the Kailash range glaciers near Mansarovar lake. The length of the Indus river is around 2880 km, out of which only 710 km lies in the Indian territories in Jammu & Kashmir state, and the rest lies in Pakistan and Tibet collectively.

  • originates from a glacier near Bokhar Chu- Near Manasarovar lake, Tibet. Lies the ranges and foothills of the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, and the Karakoram - Range; the rest are the semiarid plains of Pakistan.
  • Tributaries:
    • Zaskar (Ladakh)
    • Astor (Nanga Parbat)
    • Chenab, Sutlej, Soan, Beas, Ravi,Dras, Suru (Indus), Jhelum, Kishanganga, R. Shyok, Gilgit,
    • Shigar/Sangar+Kabul+ Kurram Gomal - Tochi +Viboa- Originate in Sulaiman Ranges
    • Harike Barrage, at the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej: Channels water into the Indira Gandhi
  • Cuts across the Ladakh range, forming a spectacular gorge near Gilgit in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Canyons: in the vicinity of the Nanga Parbat formation
  • Tidal Bore Elongated protruding distributaries and low sandy beaches
  • Indus flows only through Leh district and gets into Pakistan through the
  • Northern Areas- near Chillar in the Dardistan region
  • Rivers Chenab, Jhelum, Sutlej, Ravi, Beas+ 2 tributaries from the Afghanistan & Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  • Known as the Sapta Sindhu (Seven Rivers) delta of Pakistan
  • Fish: Hilsa
  • Blind Indus River Dolphin (Platanista indicus minor) is a sub-species of dolphin found only in the Indus River.

Jhelum River

The next important river in the Indus river system is the Jhelum river, also known as Vitusta (Rígveda), Hydaspes (Greeks), and Veth in Kashmir.

  • It originates from the Chashma Verinag glacier and covers around 720 km of distance before it joins the Chenab river in Pakistan.
  • The Jhelum river flows through the Jammu & Kashmir state of India and then enters Pakistan.

Chenab River

Another very significant river in the Indus river system is the river Chenab, also known as Asskini Chandrabhaga. The Chenab river combines two rivers, Chandra and Bhaga, in the West Himalayan region in the Himachal Pradesh state.

  • The main source of water for the streams is the Baralacha La Pass.
  • The Chenab River flows through Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir before it merges into the Indus river.
  • The largest tributary of Indus River System.

Ravi River

The next tributary of the Indus river system is the river Ravi, known as Iravati "The river of Lahore". The Ravi originates near Rohtang pass in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh and, after flowing for about 720 km, it merges into the Chenab river in Pakistan.

  • Ravi runs through the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Flows between Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar Ranges Shahdara Bagh with the tomb of Jahangir and the Tomb of Noor Jahan

Beas River

Beas is another significant river that contributes to the Indus river system. Beas river originates from the Beas Kund in Rohtang La pass in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. After its origination in Himachal Pradesh, the Beas covers a distance of around 470 km before it gets merged with the Satluj river in Punjab. Hence, the Beas river flows in the Himachal Pradesh and Punjab states of India.

  • Makes Kullu Valley meets Satluj near Harike Kullu
  • on Tributary Parbati
  • within India completely

Satluj River

One of the Indus river's most important rivers is the river Satluj. It is the longest river of all the tributaries of the Indus river system. Satluj originates from the Rakkas lake or Lake Rakshastal in the Tibet region. The Satluj river enters India through Shipki La pass, travels through the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, and finally enters Pakistan to merge with the Chenab river. The total length of the Satluj river is 1450 km, of which 1050 km lies within the Indian territories.

Indus River System Map

Below is the map of the Indus River System and its tributaries for a better understanding.

Indus River System Map

Indus River System UPSC

The Indus River System is an essential topic in Indian geography. Understanding the river and drainage systems is necessary for an aspirant as Indian Geography is a very crucial subject for UPSC preparations. Hence for a complete and thorough UPSC Exam preparation, all the concepts of Indian geography should be clear.

To prepare the Indus River System and other relevant concepts in more detail download the NCERT Books for UPSC or the UPSC Books.

Indus River System is quite an essential topic in regard to UPSC Prelims and the Mains Exam as well. The aspirants willing to appear in the IAS Exam this year can also get UPSC Syllabus and Geography Books for UPSC here. Here the aspirants are also facilitated with the UPSC Previous year’s Question Papers and other Study Materials.

Download Indus River System UPSC Notes PDF

Indus River System UPSC Question

Question: Which of the following rivers of the Indus river system does not flow from the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir?

A) Beas

B) Chenab

C) Jhelum

D) Ravi

Correct Answer is = A) Beas

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FAQs on Indus River System

  • The rivers that majorly contribute to the Indus river system are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Satluj.

  • Under the Indus river treaty, the water from Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab is to be given to Pakistan while the river water of Ravi, Satluj, and Beas is to be used by India.

  • There is proof that indicates that the Indus river system existed even before the formation of the Himalayas, hence it is a very old river system.

  • The total catchment area of the Indus river system is around 11,65000 sq. km. out of which India possesses only 3,21,248 sq. km. of the catchment area.

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