Get To Know 171 Facts About The Indus River That May Surprise You | Kidadl


Get To Know 171 Facts About The Indus River That May Surprise You

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One of the oldest known river from ancient India, the Indus hold massive importance as a transboundary river and is popularly known in relation to the Indus Valley civilization.

The Indus River, as a transboundary river, stretches across Tibet, India, and Pakistan, originating in western Tibet and ending in the Arabian Sea, around the port city of Karachi in Pakistan. It is one of the most important rivers in the Indian subcontinent with tributaries like the Shyok River, Kabul River, and Dras River.

In ancient times, the river was originally known as Sindhu by the ancient Indian civilizations, and the word Indus was coined by the Romans. Word about the Indus River reached the west when the Greek subject of the Persian King Darius was sent to find out about it.

The Indus River is also one of the longest rivers in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent and has served civilizations in these regions for centuries. It has five major tributaries known as Chenab, Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, and Jhelum in the Panjnad river portion. In India, this river stretches across Ladakh as well as the Gilgit Baltistan area of the Kashmir region. In Ladakh, it is known as the Zanskar River. The Indus River still plays a massively vital role in the Pakistan economy. It has as such been named the National River of Pakistan. Having a diverse surrounding, the river supports multiple environmental ecosystems before finally flowing into the Arabian Sea.

Did you know the Indus River Valley is one of the driest regions in southern Asia?

Read on to know more about the river dolphin species present in one of the most important rivers in South Asia.


The Indus River is known as one of the oldest recognized rivers in the world. Research indicates that it could be even older than is currently thought. Mentions of its existence are found in ancient texts across various cultures.

The Indus Valley has a very rich history behind it including how it affected ancient Indian civilizations and continues to do so even today.

Its earliest known mentions have been found in the ancient Indian text, 'Rigveda', wherein it has been called the Sapta Sindhu in the Sanskrit Language.

'Rigveda' has been found to mention the Sapta Sindhu around the second millennium BC.

'Avesta', which is a religious text of the Zoroastrians, also mentions the Indus River and refers to it as the Sapta Hindu.

In both of the languages, the names translate to Seven Rivers.

Around circa 515 BC, the Persian King Darius, sent one of his subjects to find out about the river. Upon return, the Greek subject mentioned the river as Indos, which later got translated to the Indus by the Romans.

The Indus Valley Civilization was a third-millennium urban civilization, proofs of which have been found by archeologists as one of the most civilized and advanced civilizations of the Bronze Era.

The historical kingdoms of Gandhara and Sauvira (Ror Dynasty) are known to have been present in this region.

The most widely known cities of the Indus Valley Civilization were Harappa and Mohenjo Daro which were the hotspots of trade and commerce and as the result, the most advanced cities of this region.

Trade and commerce were carried out on a sort of international level and traders from nearby places would also come here to trade of their crop yields.

There have also been stone tools found along with fully constructed cities which have provided much-needed insight into how advanced the civilization was.

The Indus River is known to have existed even before the Himalayan ranges did. This means that before the Asian and Eurasian tectonic plates collided, and the Himalayas were formed as we know them today, the Indus River system, a well as the Ganga River system and the Brahmaputra River system exited. All three of these combined make up the Himalayan River systems.


Being one of the biggest rivers in the world, the Indus River has massive impacts on all the countries that it flows through. India and Pakistan being the majority benefit holders, enjoy and rely the most on the Indus River.

The Indus River is extremely important for Pakistan. It plays a vital role in governing its economy and because of that, it has been titled the National River of Pakistan.

The annual average flow of the Indus River is 58 mi (243 cubic km). The rate of the annual average flow of the Indus River is much higher than various western rivers. It is twice as much as the Nile in Egypt and three times that of the Rivers Euphrates and Tigris combined.

One of the most endangered dolphin species, the blind dolphin, more popularly known as the Indus River dolphin or the Platanista indicus minoris, is a native of the Indus River. The Indus River is the only river supporting this species.

The State of Punjab has named the blind Indus River dolphin as the state aquatic animal because it is so rare to find and is only present in the Beas tributary in addition to the lower parts of the river in Pakistan.

The State has even announced that they aim to preserve this species and prevent further decline in their numbers.

The Indus River hugely contributes to the Pakistani economy because it runs through the Punjab Province. The province is also known as the breadbasket because this is where the majority of agricultural practices and food production takes place and where almost all food resources are grown and transported.

The Arabian Sea is the mouth of the river after it completes its journey through Pakistan.


The Indus River comprises various tributaries, some of which are more commonly known than others. Let’s look at some facts about the Indus River tributaries.

The term Sapta Sindhu translates to mean seven rivers. It has a left-bank tributary known as the Panjnad river which is located in the plains.  The Panjnad river has five tributaries of its own called the Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Beas, and Jhelum.

In the right bank tributary, there are another five tributaries called Gilgit, Shyok, Kabul, Kurram, and Gomal rivers.

Its left tributary in the Ladakh region is known as the Zanskar River.

Other tributaries of the Indus River include Astor River, Zhob River, Shigar River, Suru Chu River, Gar River, Kunar River, Swaan Stream, Hunza River, Ghizar River, Soan River, and Wakha River.

After covering its journey through Pakistan, the river flows into the Arabian Sea.

Interesting Facts About The Indus River

There are a lot of interesting Indus River facts that everyone must know. While it may not be possible to cover them all, here are some very important Indus River facts.

The Indus River is 1988 mi (3,180 km) long, which is what makes it the longest river in Asia and one of the longest rivers in the world.

The Indus River originates in the Bokhar Chu glacier in the Central Asian region or Tibet, near the Mansarovar Lake, situated in the Kailash Mountain Ranges (Kailash Parvat) in the western Tibetan part of the Asian continent.

The Indus River flows through a variety of mountain ranges and landscapes including the Himalayan Range, the Hindu Kush, and the Karakoram Range, which has made them habitable for various ecosystems including plains, arid countrysides, and temperate forests.

The Indus River is known by various names throughout the world. In Sanskrit it is known as Sindhu; in Tibetan Plateau, it is known as Sengge Chu or Singhi Khambai, which translates to Lion River; in Hindi, it is known as Sindhu Nadi; in Chinese, it is known as Shendu; in Persian, it is known as Hindu or Mehram; in Greek, it is known as Sinthos; and as Abaseen in the Pashto language which translates to The Father of Rivers. The Greek word for the river was taken from an old Persian word Hindus.

About 47% of the Indus River is in Pakistan and 39% in India. Afghanistan and Tibet have roughly 6% and 8% of the river within their boundaries.

The Indus River is the 21st largest river in the world in terms of drainage. The drainage area covered by the Indus River is (1,165,000 sq km).

The Indus River Basin extends from the Himalayan mountain ranges in the north to the Sindh province, located in Pakistan in the south. The Sindh province consists of dry alluvial plains.

The Indus River Basin covers about 14% of the Indian territory, stretching over 169,885 sq mi (4,40,000 sq km), while it covers about 65% of the Pakistani territory, extending over 2,00,773 sq mi (5,20,000 sq km). In China, it covers a mere 1% of the land territory, while in Afghanistan it covers about 11% of the territory.

There are an estimated 300 million people residing in the Indus River Basin. These people rely completely on this river to serve various daily purposes.

The Indus River Delta is the point in the Arabian Sea where the Indus River comes to an end. The Indus River delta extends over 3,000 sq mi (7,800 sq km) and provides suitable habitable conditions for various plant and animal species while also supporting human life.

The river enters Pakistan through the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province, where it reaches after taking a south bend followed by a west turn in the Gilgit region.

The Pakistani town of Skardu is situated near the upper Indus region and is located at the junction between the Indus River and the Shigar River, which is one of its right bank tributaries.

The Pakistani Province of Sindh is also named after the Indus River, known as Sindhu in Sanskrit, Sindhu Nadi in Hindi, and Darya-e-Sindh in Urdu. The name Sindhu used in the ancient Indian civilization is where the name Sindh came from, to indicate that land that lies near the River Sindhu. The name remains unchanged in the now Pakistani territory, which was created during the partition of India.

The Indus River is home to about 25 amphibian species. The river has historically been extremely rich in biodiversity and had a rich forest presence, however, due to increased interference with the natural resources, it has now become a region of poor vegetation and arid climatic conditions. Rampant deforestation of the rise of human civilizations has been directly responsible for this massive and unfavorable shift of conditions.

The Indus River also comprises 147 species of fish, 22 of which are unique to this part of the world and can't be found anywhere else.

The most vital and edible fish in the Indus River is known as the Hilsa and being one of the few edible species available in abundance, it is also very important to the people of the region as a food source.

The Sindh province consists of three major cities which are known primarily as fishing cities. These include Thatta, Sukkur, and Kotri, which are all located in Pakistan.

The Indus River serves about 18 million hectares (45 million acres) of land, acting as the primary source of water for drinking as well as for agricultural practices and the workings of other industries in Pakistan. The breadbasket of Pakistan, the Punjab province, and the Sindh province receive very little annual rainfall due to which their major reliance for water is on the Indus River.

India and Pakistan have a treaty, named the Indus Water Treaty, created close to the time of the partition, to decide who gets rights of the water in the Indus River and its five major tributaries: Jhelum, Chenab, Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi.

This treaty was proctored by the World Bank and signed in 1960 between the then president of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and the then president of Pakistan, Ayub Khan. The Indus Water Treaty was signed in Karachi, Pakistan.

This treaty allowed Pakistan the right to use water from the Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum while giving India the eastern rivers of Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej.

Since the signing of the treaty, there have been no wars over water usage and all disputes have been solved through legal proceedings and in keeping with the terms of the treaty.

All of these events have led to the Indus Water Treaty being named as the most successful international treaty in the world.

The ancient Indus Valley Civilization covered the majority of the Pakistan region and extended over to northeastern parts of Afghanistan and covered some portion of northwestern India. The size of this civilization was massive and almost as much as that of western Europe. Excavations of the region continue, revealing fascinating facts about the civilization, giving a deeper insight into life at that time.

So far, an estimated 1,056 settlements and different cities have been found to have existed in this civilization.

The Harappan Civilization was the largest of all Indus valley civilizations. It was also the most developed and advanced of the lot.

Climate change is expected to have massive and destructive effects on the Indus River. The source of the Indus River is glaciers in the Tibetan plateau, which are also one of the largest ice storages in the world, and are experiencing the effects of climate change in a heavy manner. Because of this, in the short term, as the glacier melts and the flow of water in the river increases, agriculture and development are predicted to boom, along with increased tourism. However, in the long run, it is predicted that once the glaciers will melt and all the regions depending so heavily on the Indus will face massive problems.

The Indus River is predicted to face this problem much before other parts of the world because of its dependence on the Tibetan plateaus and glaciers that are melting.

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