Travel Himalyas
Nepal Tour Packages
Himalayan River, Rivers in Himalaya Mountains, Rivers of Himalayas, Jhelum River in Himalaya
The Himalaya, roof of the world, is a magic place where the magnificence of the world's highest mountains is mirrored in the rugged beauty and unique culture of the people who live in their shadow.

The Five Sisters
Indus River
Sutlej River
Chenab River
Beas River
Ravi River
Jhelum River
Spiti River
Ganga Or Ganges River
Yamuna River
Brahmaputra River

Nepal Tour Packages
Delhi Manali Leh Jeep Safari

Nepal Tour

Duration: 06 Nights - 07 Days

Manali - Leh Jeep Safari

Duration: 07 Nights - 08 Days

Vaishno Devi Tour Package

Duration: 08 Nights - 09 Days

Nepal with India Tour

Duration: 09 Nights - 10 Days

Eastern Himalayan Cultural

Duration: 11 Nights - 12 Days

Darjeeling Tour

Duration: 05 Nights - 06 Days

Darjeeling Gangtok Kalimpong Tours
Booking Information/Reservation
Home >> Rivers in the Himalayas >> The Five Sisters
Himalayan Rivers, The Five Sisters
Indian Himalayas
Vitasta, Askini, Irawati, Vipasha And Shatadru

Romancing The Land
Before the birth of Pakistan this configuration of rivers was one of the most magnificent features of the Indian sub-continent. Came 1947, the year of partition and roughly two thirds of the length of this river system was assigned to Pakistan. But the rivers still take birth on the Indian side and still go crashing through the Himalayas to create some of the most spectacular scenery to be found anywhere in the world.

Sutlej RiverThey are a source of life for man and beast alike, for the forests they nourish and the crops they irrigate on course. These mountain rivers have taken aeons crafting their valleys, spearheaded by glaciers, helped by natural upheavals like earthquakes and the movement of the earth's plates and more recently, thwarted by dams and hydel projects. They command awe and reverence, not unmixed with fear.

The River Journey
The very names of these rivers roll like music-Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. Their ancient names were more musical still: "Vitasta", "Askini", "Irawati", "Vipasha" and "Shatadru". It is with Shatadru that one's odyssey begins because it is the longest and fastest of these five rivers.

River Sutlej (also spelt as Satluj) takes birth on the southern slopes of the holiest of mountains - Kailash, near the holiest of lakes Mansarovar. After a long run, parallel to the Himalayas, it finally penetrates these at Shipki pass. Later it cuts through the Zanskar range, makes a diagonal thrust through the Himalayas and blasts a deep gorge at the base of the Kinner Kailash massif. Within Kinnaur district, the Sutlej runs parallel to the Hindustan-Tibet Road. At Karcham, in Kinnaur, it is joined by the crystal clear, blue river Baspa that drains the Sangla valley. After Karcham, the Sutlej turns aggressively, throwing boulders, rocks and rubble around in mighty, foaming rapids.

But not or long! A dash through Shimla hills and Bilaspur district, and it loses momentum, leaving Himachal and entering the plains of Punjab at Bhakra where it mingles with the waters of Gobind Sagar Lake.

The path of the Sutlej can be a traveller's lifetime reward. To stand atop the highest hill in Thanedar, all of 8,000 feet high, and see right down in a gorge below the silver ribbon of the Sutlej at 2,000 feet. To stand at Tattapani 51-km from Shimla and watch a languid Sutlej ripple past, even as a hot spring froths and bubbles alongside. To travel along the Hindustan-Tibet Road with the foaming, rolling, not-to-be-contained Sutlej for a companion. These are pictures that never fade from the mind.

Sarahan is a former capital of Sutlej valley and a place with a charming setting. Small streams, brimming with sparkling snow melt. Fields and orchards surrounding slate roofed houses, trees of smooth birch, rare wild flowers and medicinal herbs. But the main draw is the Bhimakali temple built in the classical Shikhara style. The tall, tower like structure with its unusual rooflines, dominates the scene. A wealth of woodcarving makes it a showpiece.

On the banks of river Sutlej stands Rampur, capital of the former princely state of Bushahr. Rampur stands on an old trade route linking Himachal with Tibet. It is still an important commercial centre where a variety of goods are traded, particularly during the Lavi Fair held early November every year. These include livestock, wool, shawls, blankets and dry fruits.

The Beas forms the valleys of Kullu and Kangra, famed for their beauty. But ironically, its source is an insignificant looking igloo like structure near Rohtang Pass in Pir Panjal range to the north of Kullu. The main thrust of this river is southward to Larji and then to the west. Where it enters Mandi district and further still into Kangra. On account of its snow-fed, perennial tributaries, its inflow increases greatly during the monsoons, sometimes resulting in floods. At the Pandoh, in Mandi district, the waters of the Beas have been diverted to the Sutlej through 53-km of tunnel, with the Pong Dam constructed on the Beas, for the purpose of increasing the hydroelectric power supply.

Go Angling!
During the British Raj, the Beas was well known as the angler's paradise. Since then things have changed what with mounting pressures on natural resources. But the most highly prized variety of fish, the Mahseer, has shown a remarkable capacity for regeneration. The Pong Lake Reservoir for feeding the Pong Dam, acts like a fish reserve, feeding the Beas every year when the monsoons are on and fish must ascend the main river and its tributaries for the spawning run. Larji is the place for splendid fishing.

ManaliOn its downward journey, Pine, clad mountains gradually close in on both sides of the Beas till they almost meet. And nestling in their shade as though carved out of primeval forest, is the hill resort of Manali. Manali was once a scattered hamlet. Today it is a bustling town with a constant flow of tourists and infrastructure to match. Despite the construction boom, Manali is still beautiful what with the mountains, gracious trees and apple orchards and or course the Beas, always a living presence.

The environs of Manali are most inviting - the village of Vashisht with its hot springs and temple, Solang Valley with a glacier of its own and a splendid view of other glaciers and snow peaks. And of course the incomparably majestic Rohtang Pass. Manali is the real starting point of an ancient trade route, which crossed the Rohtang, and Baralacha passes and ran via Lahaul and Ladakh to Kashmir, Tibet and other remote countries of Central Asia.

But the Beas is not linked with scenic beauty alone. To lakhs of people the very name also means spiritual sustenance for, on the banks of the Beas, at a place called Dera Baba Jaimal Singh stands the impressive Radha Swami Centre.

Ravi River
There is something intrinsically romantic about the river Ravi. In divided Punjab used to ring with the haunting strains of love songs sung on the banks of the Ravi, which flowed past the elite city of Lahore. Now one only has to hear the outpourings of young hearts in Chamba celebrating the beauty of love and nature to know that the spirit of the Ravi is the same everywhere.

Chamba town rests on a mountain shelf on the right bank of the river. As a settlement it is Indian to the core. Here, as in many ancient towns, flourished a civilisation that provided patronage to the arts so that the temple sculptures of Chamba are truly amazing. The region is also famed for a number of handicrafts like the fabulously embroidered Rumals (handkerchiefs), wood carving, silver and leather craft.

The heart of Chamba is the Chougan or Polo ground which is meant for any activity that requires a wide-open space. A not-to-be-missed occasion in Chamba is the Minijar festival. The word "Minijar" literally means the tassel of a maize plant and the fair celebrates the flowering of the maize crop, which occurs during the monsoon. An occasion for old rituals to be revived, followed by much festivity, singing and dancing.

River Chenab is sometimes called the Chandra Bhaga because it is composed of two streams rise close to the Baralacha Pass and, by flowing in opposite directions, put a girdle around a vast tract of Lahaul till, at Tandi, they unite to form a master stream of great size and volume.

The Chenab, a tempestuous river, difficult to navigate, flows through Lahaul, enters Kashmir near Kishtwar. Three places on the banks of the Chenab deserve special mention. They are Triloknath and Mrikula Devi embellished with beautiful images and woodcarving. A third place goes by the name of Sisu, 36-km from Rohtang. Every spring and autumn migrating Geese and Ducks halt here on their way to and from Siberia.

The Jhelum flows from the spring known as Verinag, 80-km south of Srinagar. This wide, swift flowing, muddy but picturesque river sweeps through Srinagar and is famed for its nine old bridges among many things else.

Srinagar defies description. To explore it can be an amazing and deeply rewarding experience. It has old mosques and temples, fancy stores and hotels and ancient dark, queuing looking lanes lined with shops that sell things typical of Kashmir. The Dal Lake has floating shops 'n' the shape of light boats known as 'Shikaras' that ferry the pick of fresh vegetables, fruits and local flowers, and people too. The environs of Srinagar are beautiful. There are famous gardens around - the Nishat, Shalimar and Chashma Shahi.

River Indus
Indus RiverEn route from Srinagar to Leh, one has to travel along the roaring, foaming, turbulent, ash-grey Indus. Some 10-km northeast of the river, in a fertile valley stands Leh, the capital of Ladakh. Centuries ago this was an important stop on the old silk route to China.

But Leh is still where every tourist wants to go because the place is so completely different from the areas leading up to it. Barren mountains layered with rocks in different colours, like a surrealist painting. A fabulous view of the snow clad Zanskar range across the Indus. Ancient, mysterious Gompas. The air incredibly clear and crisp but the atmosphere so rarefied one must take it very easy the first few days. What a place! What an experience!