The Indus River in Ladakh plays a very important role in the lives of the Ladakhi people. And it holds great importance in the history of Ladakh. All the major settlements are located along the banks of the Indus river in Ladakh. Places like Kargil town, Leh, Thicksey, Shey, Basgo, Tingmosgang, etc. are all situated close to the river Indus in Ladakh.

Route map of Indus River in Ladakh

Indus river in Ladakh

The above map clearly illustrates the flowing route of the Indus River through which it flows in Ladakh.

The Indus river originates by the confluence of river Sengge Zangbo and Gar Tsangpo in Tibet, then it enters Ladakh through the north-east of Demchok village. Historically, Demchok used to link Ladakh and Tibet through the route of Indus. Demchok falls under LAC, and parts of Demchok are controlled by China. At LAC Demchok, India controls the left bank of the Indus. After Demchok, it flows towards Leh via Dungti. Villages like Shey, Basgo, Tingmosgang, etc. in Leh are close to the Indus river. And Indus river played a vital role in the development of these villages.

Indus river in Ladakh

After Leh, the Indus river flows towards Kargil. The village of Kargil is the biggest settlement in Ladakh situated at the banks of the Indus river. And, the Indus River is the backbone of the agriculture and food production of Kargil. The tributary of Indus in Kargil is known as the Suru River.

After Kargil, the Indus river flows towards Kashmir through Skardu. In Kashmir, it flows through Gilgil-Baltistan and then keeps flowing towards Pakistan. Finally, it drains into the Arabian Sea at the port city of Karachi.

Importance of Indus river in Ladakh
  • The civilization of Ladakh has been flourished around the banks of the Indus river. Historically, it was the major reason for the survival of the water resource-dependent livelihood.
  • The water of the Indus river in Ladakh is used for irrigation for a very long time. Also, the fertile land around the Indus river was useful for agriculture.
  • The Indus river has been a great source of fresh water in Ladakh currently and historically.
  • Currently, 144 MW of electricity is being generated collectively under a few small hydropower projects in Ladakh. Eight more hydropower projects are underway to be developed on the Indus River and its tributaries in Ladakh.
Hydropower projects on the Indus river in Ladakh

Two major hydropower projects are already being constructed in Ladakh on the Indus river.

  1. Chutak project of 44 MW on Suru, a tributary of the Indus,
  2. Nimoo Bazgo or Alchi project of 45 MW on the Indus

Eight more hydropower projects are underway to be developed on the Indus river and its tributaries in Ladakh.

Hydropower projects to be developed on the Indus River in the Leh district of Ladakh:
  1. Durbuk Shyok (19 MW),
  2. Sankoo (18.5 MW),
  3. Nimu Chilling (24 MW),
  4. Rungdo (12 MW),
  5. Ratan Nag (10.5 MW)
Hydropower projects to be developed on the Indus in the Kargil district of Ladakh:

6. Mangdum Sangra (19 MW),
7. Kargil Hunderman (25 MW) and
8. Tamasha (12 MW)

The video shows the Indus river in winter. You can notice the ice floating on the surface of the water.

The different seasons of Ladakh affect the flow of the Indus river in Ladakh mainly concentrated from July to September. The total flow of the Indus river with its tributaries varies greatly from the highest level in August to the lowest level in January. The Indus River in Ladakh receives almost all the water from melting glaciers in the upper mountainous area. Therefore, when they starting to emerge from the ridge, the water level and its flow begin to increase. And there is almost no increase in surface flow on the plains, where evaporation and seepage drain greatly reduce the flow.

The water level of Indus in Ladakh is at its lowest level in December and January. Then with increasing temperature, the river began to rise slowly. During April the level of water begins to rise rapidly. High water levels usually occur between mid-July and mid-August. Then, the river quickly recedes until the beginning of October, when the water level would gradually drop.

Indus river Left-bank tributary:

Zanskar is the Left-bank tributary of Indus in Ladakh. The river originates from the Himalayas and drains within the region of Zanskar. Two of the main rivers which form the Zanskar river are the Doda river and the Lungnak River. This river entirely flows with Ladakh. The Zanskar River is a major Indus tributary in Ladakh which merges with the Indus River. This Left-bank tributary of Indus is greater in volume than the main river.

Confluence of Zanskar and Indus river in Ladakh

The above picture shows the confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers in Leh Ladakh. This confluence point is known as Sangam and is very famous among tourists. The Sangam point is around 35Kms away from main Leh town. This tourist spot of the Indus River and Zanskar river confluence in Leh Ladakh is on the NH1 of Srinagar to Leh highway. Tourists visit this place during the sightseeing of Leh. A bike trip to this place would be a great idea to enjoy the scenery on two wheels.

Shyok river: Another tributery of Indus river in Ladakh

The above picture shows the Shyok river (a tributary of the Indus river) which means the river of death. The picture depicts the amazing view of the river and its surrounding. Tourists visit this place during their trip to Ladakh.

Shyok river merges with the Indus river in Ladakh before the Zanskar-Indus river confluence at Sangam.

FAQ

Which river joins the Indus river near Nimmu in Ladakh?

Zanskar river joins Indus river near Nimmu in Ladakh. The Zanskar river comes from the Zanskar range and the Indus river flows through Leh towards Kargil. Both the river meets at Sangam point.

Which is the Largest river in India?

Indus river which flows through Ladakh and Kashmir is the Largest river of India.

What is the originating point of Indus river?

The river originates in Tibet around the vicinity of Mansarovar. It originates from the confluence of the Sengge Zangbo and Gar Tsangpo rivers.

Where does the Indus river in Ladakh comes from and where does it go?

The Indus river in Ladakh comes from Tibet via Demchok. After Ladakh, the great Indus river flows to Kashmir and then Pakistan.

Is there fish in Indus river?

The Indus River in Ladakh is moderately rich in fish. There are different varieties of fishes found in the Indus river. The most famous of them are trout and hilsa which are the most important edible fishes found in the Indus river and its tributaries. 

Is the Indus river freshwater?

Yes, the Indus river is freshwater. In Ladakh, most of the Indus water comes from melting glaciers which makes this river very fresh.

What is the size of Indus River?

The Indus river is around 3200 kms.

Is Indus the Largest River in India?

Indus is the Largest river in India followed by Brahmaputra and Ganga.

How much is the drainage area of Indus river?

The drainage area of Indus river is around 1,165,000 Sq.km.

What is the average annual flow of Indus river?

Its estimated annual flow is around 243 km3 (58 cu mi), twice that of the Nile and three times that of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers combined, making it one of the largest rivers in the world in terms of average annual flow. Wiki

What is altitude of Indus river in Ladakh?

Indus river in Ladakh is at an elevation of more than 8000 feet.

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