Sutlej River Course Map

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Sutlej River Course Map
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The Sutlej River (also pronounced as Satluj River) is the most extensive of the five rivers that run through famous crossroad area of state of Punjab in North India and Pakistan. The river is situated on the north of the Vindhya Mountain Range, to the south of the Hindu Kush division of the Himalayan Mountain Ranges and to the east of the Central Sulaiman range in Pakistan. The Sutlej River is 1,450 km (900 miles) long. There are various hydroelectric power and irrigation projects over the river like the Kol Dam, Bhakra Nangal Dam, Baspa Hydroelectric Power Project, and Nathpa Jhakri Project.

The rapid course with just the ideal volume of water makes it and its tributaries the “Power House of the Himalayas”. The overall hydroelectric power capacity in Himachal Pradesh is evaluated to be 20,000 MW of which around 50% is from the Sutlej valley.

Sutlej River: An Overview

On many occasions, the Sutlej is called as the Red River. The river is the easternmost tributary of the Indus River. The origin of the Sutlej River is located close to Lake Rakhastal in Tibet in the vicinity of the Kailash Mountain Range. The Sutlej River usually runs according to a west to southwest itinerary moving into India via the Shipki La Pass located in Himachal Pradesh.

The Sutlej River drains the famous and very old Bahawalpur State. The area to the south and the east is dry and is named as Cholistan. Cholistan forms a segment of the Bahawalpur Division.

The Sutlej meets the Beas River in Hari-Ke-Patan in Amritsar in Punjab, India and flows to the southwest, penetrating Pakistan to join the Chenab River, creating the Panjnad River (Five Rivers of Punjab) in the vicinity of Bahawalpur. The Five Rivers of Punjab meet the Indus River at Mithankot. The Indus River subsequently runs through a canyon close to Sukkur and runs through the fecund terrain area of Sindh and ends its itinerary in the Arabian Sea, close to the port city of Karachi, Pakistan.

The waters of the Satluj River are distributed to India according to the Indus Waters Treaty between Pakistan and India and are primarily shifted to the irrigation channels in India. A number of hydel power projects have been set up on the Sutlej River, for instance, the Karcham-Wangtoo with a capacity of 1000 MW, the Bhakra Dam with a capacity of 1000 MW, and the Nathpa Jhakri Hydroelectric Dam with a capacity of 1650 MW.

Plans have been put forward to construct an extensive heavy shipment channel, named as the Sutlej-Yamuna Link or SYL. The length has been decided at 214 km or 133 miles. The idea is to link the Yamuna and Sutlej Rivers. Nevertheless, the plans faced a number of impediments and were brought up for drawing the attention of the Supreme Court.

In the Vedic Ages, the Sutlej was named as Sutudri.

Geology of Sutlej

The Satluj, together with all the rivers in Punjab, is considered to have sapped east into the Ganges before 5 Mya.

There is considerable geographical proof to show that before 1700 BC at the most recent, Sutlej was a major tributary of the Ghaggar-Hakra River (probably through the Saraswati River) instead of the Indus with different writers mentioning the channelization from 2500-2000 BC or 5000-3000 BC. Geological scientists assume that tectonic movement resulted in altitude variations, which rerouted the discharge of Sutlej from the southeast to the southwest. Subsequently, the potent Saraswati started to desiccate, resulting in transformation of Cholistan and the eastern portion of the present state of Sindh into desert. The desertification led to desertion of many prehistoric human colonies beside the riverbanks of Saraswati.

There is certain proof that the escalating rate of wearing down created by the present Sutlej River has regulated the cracks in restricted parts and speedily unearthed stones over Rampur. This will be comparable to, but on a much lower extent than the digging up of rocks by the Indus River in Nanga Parbat, Pakistan. In addition, the Sutlej River also exhibits a twofold reversed metamorphic slope.

The origin of the Sutlej is located on the western slopes of the Kailash Mountain in western Tibet. There are no roads and was first discovered by raft and kayak by German and Russian groups in 2004.

> The biggest contemporary industrial city beside the Sutlej riverbanks is Ludhiana in Punjab.

Sutlej Valley Project Scheme

Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbassi offered the Sutlej Valley Project as one of the most important contributions to the State of Bahawalpur. The Sutlej Valley Project was proposed by his Secretary of the State in 1921.

As laid down in this project, new channels should discharge by constructing dams on three rivers. These channels should provide water to a vast region of the Bahawalpur State. The names of these dams are - Head Islam, Head Sulemanki, and Head Punjnad.

This project kicked off in 1922 to 1933 and it was categorized into four sets. It began in the manner that Head Islam, Ferozpur Sulemanki, and Head Punjnad should discharge water on long-term and short-term basis. The proper outlay for this project was 33 crores and 31 lakhs at the conclusion of 1933. Out of this amount, 14 crores were sponsored by the State of Bahawalpur. The treasury of the Bahawalpur State provided two crores and the remaining amount was financed by borrowing from the government. As a result of this Sutlej Valley project scheme, 20 lakhs and 75 thousand acres of land out of 51 lakhs and 8 thousand had been supplied with the canal waters permanently.

The remaining 30 lakhs and 33 thousand acres of land were inhabited on a temporary basis. The inland waterways running from Head Punjnad had a satisfactory volume of water but the channels running from Head Sulemanki and Head Islam had small volumes of water. Estimates confirmed this project was gainful for the Bahawalpur State.

Total Income from Irrigation

From 1924 to 1925: 11 lakhs 44 thousands
From 1944 to 1945: 74 lakhs 18 thousands

Total Income from Revenue

From 1924 to 1925: 26 lakhs 97 thousands
From 1944 to 1945: 55 lakhs 62 thousands

Therefore, the overall revenue of the Bahawalpur State was raised by 91 lakh rupees in a span of 21 years or it grew 238%. The harvest of some particular food grains was raised by 51 lakhs and 50 thousands and the most significant benefit was the rise in population. Therefore, the number of people living in the Bahawalpur State became twofold and nearly 25 lakh acres of land was switched into cultivable land. Because of growth in export and import, new cities, roads, markets were set up.

A big region of Cholistan, which was arid earlier, began to become inhabited due to the availability of water. Once a considerable number of Punjabi farmers settled there, there was necessity of setting up new marketplaces. Hence, new markets were set up at Rahim Yar Khan, Sadiq Ganj, Hasilpur, Liaqutpur, Bahawalnager, Chistian, Fortabbass, Haroonabad, Sadiqabad, Yezman, and Bahawalpur. Majority of the markets were opened by Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbassi himself. In this way, the state received an excellent storage space for agricultural produces.

Things to see near the Sutlej

The Sutlej River rambles through Kalpa, Nako, Tattapani, and Sarhan areas of Himachal Pradesh prior to moving into Pakistan. The river fuses with the Chenab River close to the Alipur city in Pakistani. The joint flow of the rivers, known as the Panjnad, flow on for around 80 km to meet the Indus.

Given below are some popular tourist attractions situated on the riverbanks of the Sutlej:


Kalpa is situated at an elevation of 2,960 meters in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. It is a picturesque place, situated on the Sutlej riverbanks. The place offers stunning sights of the Kinner Kailash massif over the Sutlej River. Kalpa is so attractive, that Lord Dalhousie, the erstwhile Governor General of India came to see the place. Dalhousie was so overwhelmed by the splendor of Kalpa that he constructed a charming summer cottage at that place. It is assumed that he communicated to the King of England from Kalpa, that maybe during summer England could be ruled from Kalpa. There is no doubt, the attractive features of Kalpa does that to all the people visiting the place.

The district headquarters of Kinnaur is Rekong Peo, which is around 700 meters downward from Kalpa. The capital of Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is located about 260 km from Kalpa. It will take a whole day drive down NH-22 from Shimla to arrive at Kalpa. Other than the spectacular views, Kalpa is also famous for its high-quality chilgozas and apples.

The conventional Chini village at Kalpa is constructed wholly in stone and provides the most magnificent sights of the Kinner Kailash from Kalpa. One more important tourist draw in Kalpa is the Mahabodhi Monastery, which is assumed to be over one hundred year old. A casual stroll down the Roghi village road is also suggested for its amazing sights.

Arriving at Kalpa:

If you drive down NH22 Kalpa from Shimla the state capital, Kalpa is located at a motoring distance of 260 km. However, you need to drive for minimum10 hours as the roads are perilous in certain areas. Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) buses ply to Kalpa from Chandigarh and Shimla and you can take a taxicab from Shimla to Kalpa. The road to Kalpa is obstructed during the winter months of December to February, and all the hotels in Kalpa are closed throughout that period.

Sarahan (famous for the Bhimakali Temple)

Another beautiful settlement on the itinerary of the Sutlej River is Sarahan. Sarahan is situated at a height of around 2,000 meters over sea surface. It is home to the renowned Bhimakali Temple, the controlling goddess of the monarchs of the earlier Bushahr State of Rampur. The place is surrounded by apple groves and is an attractive place for strolls through highland pastures showing the way to fabulous spots of interest. When you get the sight of the Srikhand Mahadev (5,227 meters) over the Sutlej basin, you will have a magnificent feeling.

The principal tourist draw of the town is the Bhimakali Temple, which is an exotic combination of architectural patterns followed by both Hindu and Buddhist places of worship. The temple has been sculpted with rocks and timber. The Bhimakali Temple compound is also home to three other temples, devoted to Lord Narsinghji, Raghunathji, and Patal Bhairva Ji.

Arriving at Sarahan:

The place is 174 km from Shimla and 564 km from New Delhi. The most effective means to arrive at Sarahan is to tour by train to Kalka or by flights to Chandigarh and subsequently journey by road to Sarahan. You can hire jeeps and cabs to visit Sarahan. You can also avail bus services from Shimla, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh. From Shimla, it will take around 6 hours on road to arrive at Sarahan.

Tattapani (Famous for the Hot Springs)

Tattapani or Taptapani is located at an elevation of 661 meters. It is a calm small village, which is home to many tourist draws for those who look for calm, refreshment, and soft adventure.

A number of little hot sulfur springs are located beside the right riverbanks of the Sutlej, which spans more than one sq km. These hot sulfur springs are important attributes of the village, and therefore the name “Tattapani” was given. Tattapani stands for hot water.

A bath here is extremely advantageous for those who are having problems from arthritic pains, any type of skin infections, or tiredness. A dive in these hot springs is believed to offer the much-required respite. The distinctive stony structures convert a number of these springs into natural bathtubs. However, the hot water pools are not similar to the springs. These pools just evaporate when the intensity of the Sutlej grows in June-July and resurface in November-December.

Tattapani is not just a spot of attraction for adventure and nature enthusiasts. The place is also a famous pilgrimage spot for the devotees. Thousands of Hindus visit the place round the year. They piously regard the month of Magha (between January and February) propitious for a bath. It is assumed that by taking a bath, you can wash out all your misdeeds from yourself. The occasion of Baisakhi (April 13), is also regarded propitious to bathe in this spring. Flocks of religious devotees assemble here during the occasion of Lohri, which takes place on January 26 every year and Tara Ratri as well. One more tourist draw in Tattapani is the Shiva Caves that are only 3 km away. Himachal Pradesh Tourist Development Corporation Tourist Bungalow provides excellent lodging facilities to the tourists.

Arriving at Tattapani:

If you drive from Shimla, the state capital of Himachal Pradesh, the distance of Tattapani is around 51 km and you can reach there via Naldehra, a similarly attractive place on the way. From Shimla, you need to drive on National Highway 22 to Dhalli and Sanjauli, going across the Dhalli Passageway. You need to take a left turn at Dhalli on State Highway, which leads to Tattapani through Mashobra, Naldehraand Sunni.

Bhakra Nangal Dam

Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, referred to the Bhakra Nangal Dam as the “New Temple of Resurgent India”. The Bhakra Nangal Dam is located situated on the Sutlej River. The barrage is situated in the Bilaspur area in Himachal Pradesh. The dam ranks as one of the biggest Indian dams. It is also the highest gravity dam in the world. Situated amid the boundary of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, bordered by the verdant green forests, the dam offers a marvelous sight of the place and draws a considerable number of travelers from across India.

The altitude of the dam is 226 meters and it is 518 meters long at the pinnacle. The dam is 99 meters long at the base and 402 meters wide. The Bhakra Nangal Project got its name from two villages: Bhakhra and Nangal located at the base of the lower Himalayan ranges.

Since it is the largest dam in India, the dam draws a significant number of tourists round the year. To support tourism in this area of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh Travel and Tourism Department has established guest houses situated in the vicinity of the Bhakra Nangal Dam. Other than the man-made dam, you will also see a natural fall, which is a resource of hydroelectric power produced by the Ganguwal and Kotla Power Houses. The region bordering the dam has famous picnic spots.

Reaching Bhakra Nangal:

You can hire private cabs or board a Himachal Road Transport Corporation bus to reach the Bhakra Nangal Dam. These means of conveyance are available without any difficulties from places like Nangal, Bilaspur, and neighboring cities in Himachal Pradesh.

Last Updated on : March 13, 2020