The Punjab has an area of19500 square miles (50365sq.kms) with a population of about 24, 00,000 in 2000. Punjab is a land of five rivers and derives its name from the Persian words “panj” means five and “aab” means water. All the five rivers, Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum, are the tributaries of Indus River. These five rivers are divided between Indian and Pakistani Punjab now. Doaba is the name of the area between Sutlej and Beas which includes Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Jalandhar as major cities. Majha, the heart of Punjab, is the area between Chenab and Beas including both sides of Ravi which consists of the cities like Amritsar, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur and Faridkot. The southern part of Punjab, Malwa, is in the eastern side of Beas River and faces Rajasthan, includes cities like Patiala, Malerkotla, Ludhiana, Abohar and Shahbad.

This north-west part of India is surrounded by Jammu and Kashmir in north, Pakistan in west, Rajasthan and Haryana on the south and Himachal Pradesh on the north-east side. Punjab state, physically, may be separated into long narrow piece of sub Shivalik region and Ghaggar-Sutlej plain. The upper part of the districts of Gurdaspur, Ropar and Hoshiarpur is covered by this narrow sub Shivalik region. The Ghaggar-Sutlej plain includes the other Punjab districts. Punjab state, enclosed by mountains in the North, is mostly the fertile soil left behind by floods. These rivers and their extensive irrigation network have converted Punjab state into an affluent agricultural area irrespective of its dry conditions. The bumper agriculture production and its revenue have made Punjab a richest per capita state of India.

Five Rivers of Punjab

Sutlej River originates from Rakshasthal Lake adjacent to Mount Kailash in Tibet. This 1450 kms long river flows west throughout Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, then enters Pakistani Punjab in southwest direction. Sutlej is the energy source of Himalayan area due to its fast flow and about 50% of 20, 000MW power potential of Himachal Pradesh is generated from the Sutlej Basin. Bhakra Dam is situated at Himachal Pradesh and Indian Punjab borders on Sutlej River which is further used widely for irrigation.

Beas River is one of the “five rivers” of Punjab which has its source in great Himalaya’s Rohtang Pass located at an elevation of 13100 feet in Himachal Pradesh. Beas River merges with Sutlej River after flowing a distance of nearly 300 miles at Harike Pattan situated towards the south of Holy city of Amritsar to finally exhaust its stream into the Arabian Sea. The ancient name of Beas River in Indian and Greek literature was Vipasa and Arjiki respectively. The present Beas name may be the distortion of Vyas word related to the great sage Veda Vyas who was the main architect behind the great Hindu epic Mahabharata. This river is still called “Vipasa” in Himachal Pradesh by the academicians specially.

Ravi River comes out from the Himalaya’s range of Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh which flows nearly 725 kms distance. The second largest city of Pakistan after Karachi and capital of Pakistani Punjab, Lahore, is located near to Ravi River. This river is also the border river of India and Pakistan and flows in the northern side of Lahore city. The famous Indus civilization, Harappa, and one of its utmost cities was situated close to the earlier route of this River. The fruitful water of Ravi River is used both for irrigation and drinking purposes.

Chenab River also has its source in the Himalayan range district of Lahaul and Spiti of Himachal Pradesh state of India. The literary meaning of “Chenab” is “Moon River” and its ancient Indian name was also “Chandrabhaga”. The Chenab River enters Jammu region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir from Himachal Pradesh to reach further in Punjab plains. This river has also been dammed for the purposes of irrigation and Hydroelectric generations and plays significant role for energy source and agriculture for both India and Pakistan. Pakistan may depend on more imported wheat if Indian side of Chenab River is blocked.

Jhelum River is located at the most western side of “five rivers” of Punjab. Jammu and Kashmir is the originating state of this river which passes through the district of Srinagar to enter the Jhelum district of Pakistani Punjab. The Jhelum River has 775 kms as a total flowing length. This river like Chenab has also been dammed for irrigation and hydroelectric generation purposes.

The land of “five rivers” (Pentapotamia in Greek) Punjab is one among the highly productive regions on Earth. The Punjab region is generally referred as the “food bowl” of both India and Pakistan. Wheat, Maize, Bajra, Barley, Paddy, Cotton and Sugar-cane are the chief crops of Punjab.


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