Monday, 30 December 2013


River Narmada is one of the most sacred of the five holy rivers of India. This river forms an important connection between the Arabian Sea and the Ganges river. It flows through central India as the fifth largest river on the Indian subcontinent. It is the Life line of Madhya Pradesh, flowing westwards over a length of 1,312kms. The Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas refer to it often. The Rewa Khand of Vayu Puran and the Rewa Khand of Skand Puran are completely devoted to the story of the birth and the significance of the River and hence Narmada is also called Rewa. Narmada is also known as Narbada (Nerbudda).

The Narmada basin, hemmed between Vindya and Satpura ranges, extends over an area of 98,796 km2 (38,145.3 sq mi) and lies between east longitudes 72 degrees 32' to 81 degrees 45' and north latitudes 21 degrees 20' to 23 degrees 45' lying on the northern extremity of the Deccan Plateau. The basin covers large areas in the states of Madhya Pradesh (86%), Gujarat (14%) and a comparatively smaller area (2%) in Maharashtra. In the river course of 1,312 km (815.2 mi) explained above, there are 41 tributaries, out of which 22 are from the Satpuda range and the rest on the right bank are from the Vindhya range. Dhupgarh (1,350m), near Pachmarhi is the highest point of the Narmada basin.

The basin has five well defined physiographic regions. They are:(1) The upper hilly areas covering the districts of Shahdol, Mandla, Durg, Balaghat and Seoni, (2) The upper plains covering the districts of Jabalpur, Narsinghpur, Sagar, Damoh, Chhindwara, Hosangabad, Betul, Raisen and Sehore, (3) The middle plains covering the districts of Khandwa, part of Khargone, Dewas, Indore and Dhar, (4) The lower hilly areas covering part of the west Nimar, Jhabua, Dhulia, Narmada and parts of Vadodara, and (5) the lower plains covering mainly the districts of Narmada, Bharuch, and parts of Vadodara.

The Narmada River is also known by a few other names such as: Daksinaganga mentioned in Skanda Purana, Indija, Purvaganga, Mekaladrija, Mekalasutra or Mekalakanyaka (Amarakosa) and Somabhava. There are many legends regarding the origin of the Narmada. According to a myth, once, Lord Shiva, meditated so hard that he started perspiring. Shiva`s sweat gathered in a tank and started flowing in the form of a river - the Narmada. Another legend has it that two teardrops that fell from the eyes of Lord Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, yielded two rivers - the Narmada and the Son.

Legends also say that for Lord Shiva, the Hindu God, the river is particularly sacred on account of its origin, and it is often called Shankari or the daughter of Shankar. All the pebbles rolling on its bed are said to take the shape of his emblem with the saying - Narmada Ke Kanker utte Sankar that is a popular saying in the Hindi belt of India. This saying means that `pebble stones of Narmada gets a personified form of Shiva`. These lingam shaped stones are called Banalinga or Banashivalingas. These pebbles are much sought after for daily worship by the Hindus. The Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu is constructed by Rajaraja Chola and possesses one of the biggest Banalingas. Adi Shankara met his guru Govinda Bhagavatpada on the banks of river Narmada. Important places of pilgrimage along this river are Amarkantak, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Mahadeo temples, Nemawar Siddeshwar Mandir, Chausath Yogini, Chaubis Avatar Temple and others.

According to a Puranic story, the 60 million Gandharvas, defeated the Nagas and took over their kingdom and treasures. The Nagas went to Vishnu for help. He asked them to get Purukutsa’s help. They sent Narmada their sister, to ask for Purukutsa’s help. He agreed and she led him into the nether world of the Nagas. Empowered by Vishnu, Purukutsa fought against the Gandharvas, ultimately defeating them.
The Nagas then declared that whoever remembers this story of Narmada leading Purukutsa, would not be affected by the venom of snakes. Narmada went on to marry Purukutsa.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Ayyappa Swamy

Sabarimala is one of the famous pilgrim center’s in southern India. It is located on a hilltop named Sabari which is more than 3000 feet above sea level at the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Perunad village in kerala.It is believed that lord Ayyapa meditated here after killing the demoness Mahishi. This temple is unique in many aspects. The temple is open only from 1st of Vrichikam, a malayalam month (mid November) till end of the month Makaram (mid January), these are the days of mandala pooja and Makaravilakku,, then on Vishu day and first 6 days of every Malayalam month.

The most important day of Lord Ayyappa is on Makarasankranthi day (between Jan14th - 16th ) It is also called Makaravilakku. Makaravilakku festival’s significance is that Holy jewels( Thiruvabharam) of Lord Ayyappa is taken from Pandalam palace to the Sabarimala temple accompanied by devotees hailing Ayyappa Mantram. Sree Krishna Parunthu (holy Garuda – an eagle) is seen circling above with the procession. It is believed to be Lord Vishu as protector. The bird is not always seen, but when it reaches the sanctum sanctorum the bird circles few times as a respect to Lord Ayyappa and flies away.
On the Makaravilakku day, Lord Ayyappa’s is adorned with these sacred ornaments. When the doors are then opened for Deeparadhana & Darshan “Makara Jyothy” (like a star) will appear in the sky opposite Sabarimala, Lord Ayyapp’a birth star and Makara Vilakku is the fire lamp which is lit by authorized people in commemoration of the aarathi performed.

Pathinettapadi (18 divine steps) to the sanctum sanctorium is divine in all aspects. The first three steps depict "Bhoomi, Agni, Vayoo & Akash", 6 to 9 steps for Karmendriya, 10 to 15 for Jhanandriya, 16th for mind 17th Intelligence and 18th Jeevathma Bhava. Those who cross all these steps are believed to achieve "Punyadarshan". The steep steps are so important and holy that no one can climb them without fasting for 41 days and carrying the holy irrumudi on ones' head.

There are many mythological stories associated with the holy Patinettampadi. Some believe the eighteen steps denote the 18 puranas. Some say that 18 weapons with which Lord Ayyappa destroyed the evil denotes the 18 steps. Others are of the belief that the first five steps denotes the indriyas (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin). The next eight steps signifies the ragas (tatwa, kama, krodha, moha, lobha, madha, matsraya, and ahamkara. The next three steps signifies the gunas (satwa, rajas and thamas). The seventeenth and the eighteenth denotes vidhya and ignorance.

The 18 steps can be used only twice - once for ascending the temple and once for descending below leaving the hill. Before ascending or descending the steps, pilgrims break coconut as an offering to the steps. One needs to have the sacre Irumudi on head while going up or down the 18 steps. While descending the steps the devotees climb down backwards facing the sanctum sanctorum.
One who climbs the Patinettampadi for 18 times shall plant a sapling of coconut in Sabarimala.

Built on a plateau about 40 feet high, the Ayyappan temple commands a lofty view of the mountains and valleys all around. The ancient temple has been rebuilt after a fire in 1950. Within the confines of the sanctum sanctorium with a copper-plated roof and four golden finials at the top, two mandapams, the belikalpura which houses the altar, the flag-staff replacing the earlier stone image of the deity, sits a beautiful idol of Ayyappa in panchaloha, an alloy of five metals, about one and a half feet tall.

The uniqueness is that devotees are all equal for Lord Ayyapa and they all address each other as “Ayyappa” or “Swamy” and ladies addressed “malikapuram” instead of names. All devotees are draped in black or blue. Apart from the southern states Kerala, Andra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu devotees throng in from other parts of country and abroad. - for women and girls only kids and older women are allowed to enter the Sabarimala temple since Lord Ayyappa was a bramachari (unmarried).


Mahishi was the sister of Demon Mahishasura who was killed by Goddess Durga, who came up on earth with the energy of the Trimurtis and other Devas. Mahishasura had received the boon that no man could kill him but he was eventually killed by Goddess Shakti in her Durga form. Demon Mahishi went a step ahead and performed intense tapas and austerities to please Brahma. Finally, Brahma relented and as a boon Mahishi asked that a son born to Shiva and Vishnu should only kill her. 

She asked this boon as Vishnu and Shiva had got better of all the boons that the demons had received earlier. Now it was impossible for a son to be born to Shiva and Vishnu as they were of same gender.
Before that Vishnu had taken the form of Mohini to rescue Amrut got during the Samudra Manthan. Shiva once expressed a desire to see the Mohini form which had enamored both the Devas and Asuras. Vishnu again appeared in the form of Mohini. Thus Shiva and Mohini united to give birth to Ayyappa.Hariharaputra is born. 

             The baby is abandoned. The childless King Rajasekhara of Pandala who came hunting in the forest on the banks of Pampa river takes the baby to his palace. 

             Named the boy as Ayyappa, he grows up as the king's adopted son. Then the king has a son of his own. However, the king wants to name Ayyappa as the heir to the throne. The queen, wanting to get rid of him, sends him to the forest to bring leopard milk she claims as the only cure for her pretended stomach pain.

             Lord Ayyappa starts to the forest when The Panchabuthas of Lord Shiva closely followed Manikandan as he entered the forest. But on the way, he chanced to witness the atrocities of the demoness Mahishi(sister of Mahishasura killed by Devi Durga) in Devaloka. His sense of justice outraged, Manikandan hurled Mahishi onto the earth below; she fell on the banks of the Azhutha River. A fierce battle soon ensued and at the end, Manikandan mounted Mahishi’s chest and commenced a violent dance that reverberated within the earth and the Devaloka. Even the Devas were frightened. Mahishi realized that the divine being on her was the son of Hari and Haran, chastened, she prostrated before the young boy and died.

This dance was witnessed by Lord Shiva and Mahavishnu from a place called Kalakatti .It is said that Leela, daughter of Kavalan, a Karamban, with a face of Mahishi and freed herself from the curse and obtained Moksha by the grace of Shri Dharma Sastha, which is described in Sabarimala Temple as Malikapurathu Amma, by which name she has a temple there.

Following his confrontation with Mahishi, Manikandan entered the forest for tigress’ milk. He had a darshan of Lord Shiva who informed him that even though he had fulfilled the divine plan, he still had one major task to accomplish. Manikandan was reminded about his grief-stricken father and ailing mother; also he was assured of Lord Indran’s assistance in obtaining the much prized tigress’ milk. Manikandan made his way to the Royal palace on Lord Devendran, disguised as a tiger; they were accompanied by female devas in the guise of tigresses and male devas as tigers.

  Every one of the Land gets surprised as  Ayyappa brings not just the milk but also a pack of leopards to the palace for all future use! The queen apologizes. The son of god shoots an arrow. Wherever it falls will be His abode, he said so. It fell on Sabari hills. Later, acting upon the advice of Saint Agasthya King Rajasekara laid the foundation stone of the temple at Sabarimala.

 Every year since, the believers go in pilgrimage to Sabarimala (mala means hill) in Dec-Jan.         

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

River Yamuna

Among the seven sacred rivers of India River Yamuna has a greater significance in the Indian Mythology as it lies as the witness of our Lord Shri Krishna.River Yamuna is the largest tributary river of Ganges in Northern India. It originates from the Yamunotri Glacier at a height of 6,387 metres on the south western slopes of Banderpooch peaks in the uppermost region of the Lower Himalayas in Uttarkhand. It travels a length of 1,376km coursing through H.P., Delhi, Haryana and the U.P. Its origin is at Yamunotri glacier in Uttarkashi District in the Uttarakhand State, at a height of nearly 6300 metres. Cities like Delhi, Mathura and Agra lie on its course. It joins Ganga at the Triveni Sangam, Allahabad.. Yami is another name of Yamuna, she is the sister of Yama, the god of death and daughter of Lord Surya. Both of them are twins. Yamuna is alternatively referred to as Amsumati in the Rigveda. Amsumati also means “sunlight”. 

A dip in Yamuna is supposed to eradicate any fears of death. And some people regard Yamuna as even more sacred than Ganges as the feet of baby Krishna were washed in it as he was being carried by Vasudeva across the river from the Mathura side to the Gokul side.

 When Vasudeva, carrying Krishna in a basket, reaches the river Yamuna, on the extremely turbulent, rainy night of Krishna's birth, Yamuna is said to have parted to make way for Vasudeva. Besides,the river was witness to Krishna's games and amorous pranks with gopis, and the growing Lord liberally indulged in swimming in it. The twins Yama and Yami (Yamuna) are regarded in the Vedas as the first man and woman (mortals) on earth. Yami’s vahan is a tortoise.

                                              Goddess Yamuna on Tortoise

Some say the source of the river is the Saptarishi Kund, a glacial lake, where a sacred shrine of Yamunotri or Yamnotri is constructed. There is also a temple dedicated to the Goddess Yamuna, which remains closed from November to May. At Hanumanchatti, the Hanuman Ganga converges with Yamuna River. According to a legend, this remote hilly spot was the home of an ancient sage, the Asit Muni.

Yamuna River is famous today in many different ways: on its bank stands the Taj Mahal, the timeless embodiment of love and beauty, created by Emperor Shah Jahan of Mughal Dynasty. In the 17th century, grief-stricken by the untimely death of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the emperor built the monument in white marble, working over twenty years for its completion. Shah Jahan is believed to have spent his old age as a prisoner of his son, Emperor Aurangazeb, gazing at the reflection of the monument in the Yamuna. Shah Jahan died in 1666 in his jail on the opposite side of the river from his beloved Taj Mahal.

The story of Yamuna goes back at least 1.2 million years — to Dwapara Era, when a boy named Krishna grew up on the banks of this river, in the town of Brindavan. In mythology, Yamuna is celebrated as Kalindi, or the black river. Yamuna is the sister of Yama — the God of Death.

During Dwaparayuga  in this river a serpent named Kaaliya lives and poisons its water; the people living on Kalindi’s banks are devastated because they can’t use the water. They are too frightened by the serpent’s presence in river. Children can’t play on the river shore for fear of inhaling the air poisoned by Kaaliya’s breath. No one dares go near it. Birds flying in the sky above fall dead. Animals that drink the water downstream die instantly. In the forest nearby, trees wither away.

             One day Lord Krishna looks up from his play with friends, and sees the black serpent — its many hoods raised menacingly. Krishna’s smile disappears.Soon afterward he hears cries from women and men. Some children are killed by the venomous snake.
Lord Krsishna moves ahead to save his people and kaliya circles him with coils.Having severely depleted Kaliya's strength with His restless circling, Krishna pushed down kaliya's shoulders and mounted his broad, serpentine heads. Thus, Krishna, the original master of all fine art, began to dance, His lotus feet deeply reddened by the touch of the numerous jewels upon the serpents heads. At that time the ruby-red jewels from the snake's foreheads fell into the Yamuna's bluish waters producing a beautiful violet effect.

Seeing the Lord dancing, His servants in the heavenly planets, the Gandarvas, siddhas, sages, Caranas and wives of the demigods immediately arrived there. With great pleasure they began accompanying the Lord's dancing by playing drums such as mrdangas, panavas and anakas. They also made offerings of songs, flowers and prayers. Kaliya had one hundred and one prominent heads and when one of them would not bow down, Krishna would smash that stubborn head by striking it with His feet.

Krishna 's wonderful, powerful dancing trampled and broke all of Kaliya's 1000 heads The serpent, profusely vomiting blood from his mouths, finally recognised Sri Krishna to be the eternal Personality of Godhead, the Supreme master of all moving and non-moving beings, thus within his mind, Kaliya took shelter of the Lord and accepts its defeat. All the wives of the mighty serpentine prays Lord Krishna for excusing him.

           Lord Krishna orders him to leave Yamuna and live in sea, when the serpentine tells him about the threat with Garuda. Pleased god assured the serpentine that his vahan Garuda will never touch him as the serpentine's head has the foot marks of the god.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

River Saraswati- The Lost River and Antarvahini

      River Saraswati is a lost river in the desert Thar and a Antarvahini in present days. It is a Rigvedic river and is called the Ambitame(Best of mothers) , Naditame(Best of rivers) and Devitame ( Best of goddesses). It is the river that gave birth to canonical literature and a civilization. Mother saraswati is the Goddess of Art and Learning.

Thousands of years ago when the mighty rivers started flowing down the Himalayan slopes, Western Rajasthan was green and fertile. Great civilizations prospered in the cool amiable climate on riverbanks of northwestern India. The abundant waters of the rivers and copious rains provided ample sustenance for their farming and other activities. Years later, Saraswati, one of the rivers of great splendour in this region, for reasons long enigmatic, dwindled and dried up. 

The greenery of Rajasthan was lost, replaced by an arid desert where hot winds piled up dunes of sand. The flourishing civilizations vanished one by one. By geological standards, these are small-scale events; for earth, in its long 4.5 billion years history, had witnessed many such changes, some of them even accompanied by wiping out of several living species. But those that occurred in northwest India took place within the span of early human history affecting the livelihood of flourishing civilizations and driving them out to other regions.

According to the geological and glaciological studies, saraswati was supposed to have originated in Bandapunch masiff, descended through Adibadri, Bhavanipur and Balchapur in the foothills of the plains. The river took a southwesterly course, passing through the plains of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Saraswati river has 3 tributaries, Shatadru( Sutlej) arising from Mount Kailash, Drishadvati from Siwalik Hills and the old Yamuna. Together they flowed along a channel presently identified as Ghaggar river, also called as Hakra in Rajasthan and Nara in Sindh. 

The identification of the River saraswati with the Ghaggar-Hakra River was done in 19th and the early 20th centuries. According to proto-historian Michel Danino, In ancient times a mature river flowed into the Ghaghar Akra Valley and into the Rann of kutch which is identified as the rigvedic river, saraswati.

About 360 sites were found along the bed of saraswati river in archeological survey when along the Indus river are about 35 only. This explains the reason for decline of Harappan Civilization.

                 Civilization across river bed

French scientist, Henri-Paul Francfort, had discovered the dry river bed of Saraswati utilizing advanced imagery from the Satellite SPOT. His studies led to the conclusion that the river bed was pre-Harappan and had already started drying up by the middle of 4000 BCE. The reason of disappearance may be due to the major Earth quakes playing havoc with the river courses in the North-western region of the country. Due to it the old courses of saraswati’s tributaries has took diversion and the Sutlej changed direction to join Indus in west, river Yamuna turned east aligning with Ganga.

It is believed that the river saraswati flows underground and hence known as Antarvahini. At the Triveni sangam of Allahabad, the two visible rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the Invisible river Saraswati merge. This place has a religious importance and the site for historic Kumbh Mela held every 12 years. Vajasaneya samhitha of the yajurveda and Brahmanas in the Vedas explain the existence of river along with the details of its areas.

                                  Naga Sadhus at Kumbhamela

Saraswati River Pushkaram are considered auspicious and celebrated. In 2013, they were celebrated from May 31st at 6:49 AM to June 11th. In this duration Brihaspati ( Guru) enters into Mrigasira Nakshatra marking the beginning of sun’s journey in Midhuna Rashi(Gemini).

Kurukshetra is at the banks of this sacred river. At a distance of 9 kms from Badrinath at Maana Village we can see the Saraswati River. From here the river flows for 5kms and merge in Alakananda river. This place is popular as Keshava Prayaga.

In Gujarat- Somnath Jyotirlinga temple and Siddhapur temple, Rajasthan- Brahma temple are the Important sites of saraswati pushkara’s. Another confluence of Saraswati and Narmada rivers is at Bedaghat in Madhya Pradesh.

Mythological Link:-

  • Karthikeya was anointed the commander of Deva forces on its banks.
  • Bhargavaram/Parashuram purified himself by taking bath in the sacred water after cleansing earth of the scourge of tyranny.
  • Mahabharatha war was also fought along the banks of river Saraswati.
  • Balarama, brother of Shri Krishna responsible for the alteration of the course of Yamuna which is a tributary of Saraswati.
                                            Balaraama, changing course of river Yamuna
Scientific Approach:-

Questions on the existence of sacred river is well answered by the Indian Space Research Organization and the association of Rajasthan Underground Resources department, Indian Archaeological survey department that the river do existed in vedic period with the disclosed pictures of satellite.

Raise and fall of Harappan Civilization

            Liviu Giosan, geologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and lead author of the study, says, ‘We reconstructed the dynamic landscape of the plain where the Indus Civilization developed 5,200 years ago, built its cities, and slowly disintegrated between 3,900 and 3,000 years ago.’
Their conclusion gives the clearest picture yet of the fate of the Harappans. According to Giosan, ‘The Harappans were an enterprising people taking advantage of a window of opportunity—a kind of “Goldilocks civilization”. As monsoon drying subdued devastating floods, the land nearby the rivers—still fed with water and rich silt—was just right for agriculture. This lasted for almost 2,000 years, but continued acidification closed this favorable window in the end.’
              Some 5,000 years ago, as the monsoon started to weaken, the flooding of the rivers became less intense and regular across Punjab.
              The rivers of the Indus system, fed by snow-melt from the Himalayas, underwent a change. As the silt from the monsoon declined, they started incising river valleys. According to Giosan, ‘There is a fine balance between deposition and erosion along rivers. If you decrease the sediment relative to the water in a river you favor erosion. In the case of Indus Himalayan tributaries water is perennial and provided by melting. All these rivers incised and their incised valleys are wide (km to tens of km).’

          The story was different on the other major river system of the Harappan civilisation—the Ghaggar-Hakra. Often identified with the mythic Saraswati of Rg Vedic and Puranic literature, Giosan and his team determined that this river system has had no connection with either the Yamuna or the Sutlej in the past 10,000 years.
           Giosan offers a straightforward explanation: ‘No incised connection from either Yamuna or Sutlej exists to the Ghaggar-Hakra system.’ This needs to be decoded. Since both the Yamuna and the Sutlej are Himalayan rivers, like the Indus rivers, they would have been incising their course within the past 10,000 years. The absence of any incised connection from the two rivers to the Ghaggar indicates that these connections did not exist during the past 10,000 years.
           The team also noted a lack of incision along the course of the Ghaggar-Hakra. According to Giosan, ‘Lack of a wide incised valley tells us that rivers of the Ghaggar-Hakra did not behave like all other Himalayan rivers. Flow in these monsoonal rivers can be perennial or seasonal. For a perennial flow you need enough monsoon rain to recharge groundwater to insure a baseflow during the dry season. For a seasonal flow the groundwater is not recharged enough to insure baseflow.’

                                              Indus Vs Harappan Civilization

           Giosan’s team has correlated the geological date with the pattern of settlement of the Harappan towns along the two river systems. This indicates that the Ghaggar-Hakra was perennial for much of the Harappan period, and till as late as 2,900 years ago, water, whether seasonally or perennially, may have flowed all the way to the Nara valley in Sindh.  
Just focusing on the Ghaggar-Hakra during the period of Harappa’s decline tells an interesting story. The western part of the river system sees a decrease from 174 sites to 41 and the settled area decreases from 974 to 209 hectares. In the upper or eastern course, the site number actually increases from 218 to 853, but the settled area only rises from 2,943 hectares to 2,985 hectares. It seems the larger urban sites along the entire course were giving way to numerous smaller sites on the upper course, indicating an urban collapse. This is reflected in the Indus settlements as well with the total settled area declining while the number of sites rises. large cities, but would have been reliable.’

          According to Giosan, this collapse is not simply a matter of the drying up of the Ghaggar-Hakra:
‘I cannot favor this explanation because the Indus domain was vast—decadence in one region could have been compensated by the other regions. And why would folks from the Indus system leave their houses if the GH would dry but their rivers would still flood reliably? The floods on the Indus system also probably started to be irregular and/or [were] not large enough to insure the previous way of life—this coupled with drastic reduction of flow on Ghaggar-Hakra led to a crisis across the whole Harappan domain—this is what we favor now as an explanation.’
This explanation is also supported by the agricultural record of the Harappan settlements, which shows a significant shift in the later phase from winter crops, which depend on the flooding of the rivers, to summer crops directly dependent on rain rather than the river.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Indus ( Sindhu )

     Indus valley civilization is the well known word for every historians, It started on the banks of the river Indus and is is the most ancient and highly developed civilization of this planet. In Rig Veda, the river Sindhu is praised in many verses. Although some historians believe that the word Sindhu means a sea, the widely held view is that it refers to the Indus River. Therefore, Sindhu may be taken to mean the Indus River which is described as donor of gifts and owner of fertile fields. Our country came to be called Hindustan or India; these words are derived from the name Indus or Sindhu. The Sindh province of Pakistan derives its name from this river. Its name also figures in the national anthem of India. A unique feature of this civilization is that it still survives despite numerous setbacks. 

The root of the river Indus belongs to the Vedic Land. It originates at the Tibetan Plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar and fed with glaciers and rivers in himalayas. It flows through Pakistan, India and Tibet countries. It flows through the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir and then flows in south direction along the entire length of Pakistan and merges in Arabian sea near the port city of Karachi in Sindh. The total length of the river is 3,180km and is the longest river in Pakistan.

The Indus forms the delta of Pakistan and India mentioned in the Vedic Rigveda as Sapta Sindhu and the Iranian Zend Avesta as Hapta Hindu (both terms meaning "seven rivers"). The river has been a source of wonder since the Classical Period, with King Darius of Persia sending Scylax of Caryanda to explore the river as early as 510 BC. Ancient greeks referred Indians as the people of Indus. The word Punjab means "land of five rivers" and the five rivers are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, all of which finally merge in Indus.

The developed civilization of India is said to be Indus Valley Civilization when the major cities such as Harappa and Mohenjo-daro around 3300 BC represent the largest human habitations of the ancient world. The river’s annual flow is about 272 billion cubic yards (207 billion cubic metres)—twice that of the Nile River and three times that of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers combined.

The entire basin covers an area of about 384,000 square miles of open land, of which 204,000 lie in Pakistan. In addition, there are about 29,000 square miles which lie outside the Indus basin but are dependent on the Indus river system for their water requirements and irrigation supplies. But for the Indus waters, the fate of agriculture in Pakistan would have been very uncertain.

The Indus river dolphin (Platanista gangetica minor) is a subspecies of freshwater river dolphin found in the Indus river (and its Beas and Sutlej tributaries) of Pakistan. From the 1970s until 1998, the Ganges River dolphin and the Indus dolphin were regarded as separate species; however, in 1998, their classification was changed from two separate species to subspecies of a single species.

The Ganges river dolphin has been recognized by the government of India as its National Aquatic Animal. Both subspecies have been very adversely affected by human use of the river systems in the subcontinent.

Indus river dolphins are one of only four river dolphin species and subspecies in the world that spend all of their lives in freshwater. They are believed to have originated in the ancient Tethys Sea. When the sea dried up approximately 50 million years ago, the dolphins were forced to adapt to its only remaining habitat—rivers. Only about 1,100 exist today in the lower parts of the Indus River in Pakistan. Numbers declined dramatically after the construction of an irrigation system. Most dolphins are confined to a 750 mile stretch of the river and divided into isolated populations by six barrages. They have adapted to life in the muddy river and are functionally blind. They rely on echolocation to navigate, communicate and hunt prey including prawns, catfish and carp.