Catchment Areas of Major Rivers:
|Name of River System|
Area of Catchment
|Area in percentage|
Source: Forests of Himachal Pradesh, 1993
As is apparent from the details above, more than 95% of the State’s area is drained by five river systems i.e. the Sutlej, Beas, Chenab, Yamuna and Ravi. Details of these river systems are as under:
1. The Sutlej: This is the largest river system of Himachal Pradesh with a total catchment area of 20,398 km2 spread over the districts of Lahaul & Spiti, Kinnaur, Shimla, Solan and Bilaspur. Originating in Tibet, the river flows from east to west, enters the State at Shipki (6,608 m) in Kinnaur. It is joined by its various right bank tributaries including the Spiti, the Ropa, the Kasang, the Mulgaon, the Yul, the Wanger and the Throng in Kinnaur. The Tirung, the Gayanthing, the Duling, the Baspa, the Solding, the Manglad and the Nogli streams form some of its left bank tributaries. Before entering the Punjab plains, it cuts a gorge in Naina Devi Dhar. A big dam across this gorge near Bhakra village has been constructed which has created a huge reservoir called the Govindsagar in the district of Bilaspur. With a basin threshold of 500 Sq . Km , the Sutlej river basin gets divided into 11 subbasins.
2. The Beas: Known as ‘Vipasa’ in ancient scriptures, the Beas is the second most important river of Himachal Pradesh and has a catchment area of 13,663 km2. It originates at Beas Kund near the Rohtang pass and is fed by several tributaries including the Parbati, the Hurla, the Sainj, the Tirthan, the Uhl, the Sakeri, the Luni, the Awa, the Banganga, the Manuni, the Guj and the Chaki. It flows from north to south-west over a distance of 286 km in Himachal Pradesh with a basin threshold of 500 Sq . Km, the Beas river basin gets divided into 17 subbasins .
3. The Chenab: Also known as Chandrabhaga, it is the largest river of the State in terms of water volume. Its catchment area is about 7850 km2. Chandra and Bhaga originate from the opposite sides of Baralacha-la, at an elevation of 4891 m in Lahaul. Chandra from the south-east and the Bhaga from the north-west join at Tandi (2286 m) to form the Chenab. It enters the Pangi valley of Chamba district a little beyond Bhujind and leaves the State at Sasari nala to enter Jammu & Kashmir. There are no traces of human habitations along the banks of this river as it passes through mountains laden with eternal snow. With a basin threshold of 500 Sq . Km , the Chenab river basin gets divided into 7 sub-basins
4. The Yamuna: The south-eastern part of Himachal is drained by various tributaries of the Yamuna such as the Tons, the Pabbar and the Giri. The Tons, through its tributary Rupen, drains the Dodra-Kwar area. The Pabbar originates from Chandar Nan lake on Chaural peak in Rohru and the Giri originates from Giri-Ganga near the Kuper peak in Jubbal. The Yamuna river system drains a total of about 5,872 km2 in the State.
5. The Ravi: Known as ‘Parshuni’ in Vedic literature, the Ravi River originates from an amphitheatre-like basin called Bara Bangal, which is a branch of the Dhauladhar range. The catchment area of the Ravi in the State is 5,528 km2. It flows westward through a trough separating the Pir Panjal from the Dhauladhar range and then turns southwards cutting a deep gorge through the Dhauladhar range. It flows through Chamba district for about 130 km before leaving the State at Kheri. During its course, several tributaries such as Chirchind nala on the left-bank and the Budhill, the Tundah, the Burjeri, the Saho and the Siul on the right-bank join it. Chamba town is situated on its right bank. With a basin threshold of 500 Sq. Km, the Beas river basin gets divided into 5 subbasins.