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Ravi River

The Ravi waters rise in the majestic Himalayas in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh and flows north-west past the Chamba river and continuing by turning southwest at the Jammu and Kashmir border. The river then flows into Pakistan and after running a course of 50 miles (approx 80 kilometers) enters the Punjab province past Lahore and turning west at Kamalia. Finally, Ravi River empties itself into Chenab River at the southern part of Ahmedpur Sial with a total course of 450 miles (725 kilometers).

After the partition of India in 1947, the rivers of Ravi along with others in the Indus system was divided between the countries as per the Indus Water Treaty. The Indus Basin Project was subsequently taken up by Pakistan while many inter basis transfers like irrigation, hydropower and several multipurpose projects were built in the Indian Territory.

History and Etymology

As per Indian Vedas, Ravi was traditionally known as Iravati also spelt and pronounced Airavati. To the ancient Greeks, Ravi River was referred to as the Hydraotes. The part of the legendary battle of the ten kings was fought on the banks of the Parushani River, later inferred by MacDonell and Keith as the Ravi River. The Nikruta 9.26 also draws reference of the Ravi River in Punjab. When the Indian National Congress changed it goals to Purna Swaraj or Total Independence, President Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled the tricolor on the banks of Ravi River in the midnight hours of 31st December 1929 amidst the slogans of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Bande Mataram’.

When the river first cross the Himalayan Mountain ranges, it drains into the first known civilization at ancient Chamba, today known as the Bharmour. Bharmour used to be the capital of the Chamba civilization in ancient times and this is marked by the presence of a famous temple called the Chaurasia Temple. About 10 kilometers from the Chaurasia Temple is the Dal Lake. Flowing ahead another 50 kilometers, Ravi divides the Chamba plains into two parts (now connected by a bridge). This is also the location for the NHPC (National Hydroelectric Power Corporation) project. Finally across Pakistan and the Punjab province, the River drains into Chenab and finally into the Arabian Sea.

As per satellite studies carried over an extensive period of 20 years, the Ravi River had meandered across a substantial alluvial plain in Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts in Punjab. This did result in extensive damage in the Indian Territory as a result of the changing course northwards. The reasons for the change of course can be must designated to man-made obstructions constructed in Pakistan. The total change in course is reported to be around 4.8 kilometers.


Ravi River basically emerges in the Himalayan Ranges from a place locally known as the Bada Banghal. This origin is situated on the borders of Chamba near the Spiti and Lahual valley, but generally draining the Chamba Valley. The Bada Banghal is located at an elevation of 4300 meters above the sea level. In ancient times, Ravi was known to be the Iravati River and is now one of the few trans-border Asian draining both India and Pakistan. The source of Ravi River is basically glacial melt and it is covered with snow throughout the year. The total course of the Ravi River is 850 kilometers before it melts into Chenab to meet the Sea. The river combines with Chenab in Lahore in the Punjab Province of Pakistan.

The Ravi is the smallest of all the five Punjab Rivers rising from the glacial elevation of over 14,000 feet. As it starts out, it forms a gorge having a river bed of 1:185 ft per mile and fed by glaciers. The Ravi origin also falls in the rain shadow region for the Southern monsoons. Flowing southwest and crossing Dalhousie, it cuts another gorge across the Dhauladhar Ranges before entering Punjab near Pathankot and Madhopur.


Budhil and Dhona (Nai)

These tributaries join the Ravi waters about 40 miles downstream from the source. The Budhil River starts off from the Lahual Range and is fed by the glaciers of Manimahesh Kailash Peak and Manimahesh Lake. The Nai on the other hand takes its course from Kali Debi pass and after flowing a length of 30 miles joins the Ravi at Trilokinath.

Seul River

Seul waters join the Ravi course below Bharmour, the ancient capital of Chamba.

Saiwa River

Saiwa is another major tributary of the Ravi in Chamba basin joining near Bissoli. At the same place another river that joins Ravi is the Baira Nalla.

Tant Gari

This is yet another small tributary of Ravi sourced from the Pir Panjal ranges and joining Ravi at east of Bharmour.

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