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Sutlej Valley from Rampur ca. 1857
Sutlej Valley from Rampur ca. 1857
Sutlej River is tributary to Indus River The Sutlej River (alternatively spelled as Satluj River) (, , , , and ) is the longest of the five rivers that flow through the historic crossroad region of Punjab in northern India and Pakistan. It is located north of the Vindhya Range, south of the Hindu Kush segment of the Himalayas, and east of the Central Sulaiman Range in Pakistan.

The Sutlej is sometimes known as the Red River. It is the easternmost tributary of the Indus River. Its source is from Lowangko Co, Tibet near Lake Rakshastal in Tibet, China, near Mount Kailas, and it flows generally west and southwest entering India through the Shipki La pass in Himachal Pradesh. In Pakistan, it waters the ancient and historical former Bahawalpur state. The region to its south and east is arid, and is known as Cholistan a part of Bahawalpur Division. The Sutlej is joined by the Beas River in Hari-Ke-Patan, Amritsar, Punj b, India, and continues southwest into Pakistan to unite with the Chenab River, forming the Panjnad River near Bahawalpur. The Panjnad joins the Indus River at Mithankot. Indus then flows through a gorge near Sukkur, flows through the fertile plains region of Sindh, forming large delta region between border of Gujarat, India & Pakistan and finally terminates in the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in Pakistan.

The waters of the Sutlej are allocated to India under the Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan, and are mostly diverted to irrigation canals in India.[1] There are several major hydroelectric projects on the Sutlej, for example, the 1,000 MW Bhakra Dam, the 1,000 MW Karcham-Wangtoo and the 1,530 MW Nathpa Jhakri Hydroelectric Dam.[2] There has been a proposal to build a long heavy freight canal, known as the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL),[3] in India to connect the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers. However, the proposal met obstacles and was referred to the Supreme Court.

The Sutlej was known as utudri in the Vedic period.



The Upper Sutlej Valley was once known as the Garuda Valley by the Zhang Zhung, the ancient civilization of western Tibet. The Garuda Valley was the centre of their empire which stretched many many miles into the nearby Himalayas. The Zhang Zhung built a towering palace in the Upper Sutlej Valley called Kyunglung, the ruins of which still exist today nearby to the village of Moincer, southwest of Mount Kailash (Mount Ti-se) Eventually the Zhang Zhung were conquered by the Tibetan Empire.

Today, the Sutlej Valley is inhabited by nomadic ancestors or the Zhang Zhung who live in tiny villages of as yak herders.

Geology of the Sutlej

The Sutlej, along with all of the Punjab rivers, is thought to have drained east into the Ganges prior to 5 mya.[4]

There is substantial geologic evidence to indicate that prior to 1700 BC at the latest, Sutlej was an important tributary of the Ghaggar-Hakra River (possibly through the Saraswati river) rather than the Indus with various authors putting the redirection from 2500-2000 BC.[5][6] or 5000-3000 BC[7] Geologists believe that tectonic activity created elevation changes which redirected the flow of Sutlej from the southeast to the southwest. The mighty Saraswati then began to dry up, causing desertification of Cholistan and the eastern part of the modern state of Sindh. The desertification resulted in abandonment of numerous ancient human settlements along the banks of Saraswati.

There is some evidence that the high rate of erosion caused by the modern Sutlej River has influenced the local faulting and rapidly exhumed rocks above Rampur.[8] This would be similar to, but on a much smaller scale then, the exhumation of rocks by the Indus River in Nanga Parbat, Pakistan. The Sutlej river also exposes a doubled inverted metamorphic gradient.[9]

The source of the Sutlej is just west of Mt. Kailash in western Tibet. This is a roadless area, and was first explored by kayak and raft by Russian and German teams in 2004.[10]

The largest modern industrial city along the Sutlej banks is Ludhiana.


File:Crossing the Sutlej near Simla upon inflated animal skins.jpeg|Using inflated animal skins to cross the Sutlej River, c. 1905 File:Kinnaur 392.jpg|Sutlej River in Kinnaur Valley, Himachal Pradesh File:Satluj P012.JPG|Cattle grazing on the banks of the river in Ropar, Punjab

See also


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