|The Indus River flows past the city of Hyderabad, Sindh Pakistan|
The Indus River is a major river in Asia which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through western Tibet and northern India. Originating in the Tibetan Plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar, the river runs a course through the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, towards Gilgit and Baltistan and then flows in a southerly direction along the entire length of Pakistan to merge into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in Sindh. The total length of the river is 3,180 km (1,980 mi). It is Pakistan's longest river.
The river has a total drainage area exceeding 1,165,000 km2 (450,000 sq mi). Its estimated annual flow stands at around 207 km3 (50 cu mi), making it the twenty-first largest river in the world in terms of annual flow. The Zanskar is its left bank tributary in Ladakh. In the plains, its left bank tributary is the Chenab which itself has four major tributaries, namely, the Jhelum, the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej. Its principal right bank tributaries are the Shyok, the Gilgit, the Kabul, the Gomal and the Kurram. Beginning in a mountain spring and fed with glaciers and rivers in the Himalayas, the river supports ecosystems of temperate forests, plains and arid countryside.
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.
Names and etymology
The Sanskrit word Sindhu means river, stream or ocean, probably from a root sidh meaning "to keep off". Sindhu is still the local appellation for the Indus River.
In the Rigveda, "Sindhu" (Sanskrit: सिन्धु) is the name of the Indus river. Sindhu is attested 176 times in the Rigveda, 95 times in the plural, more often used in the generic meaning. In the Rigveda, notably in the later hymns, the meaning of the word is narrowed to refer to the Indus river in particular, as in the list of rivers of the Nadistuti sukta. This resulted in the anomaly of a river with masculine gender: all other Rigvedic rivers are female. This is not just a grammatical designation: the other rivers were imagined as goddesses and compared to cows and mares yielding milk and butter.
The word Sindhu became Hinduš in Old Persian. The Ancient Greek Ἰνδός (Indós, borrowed in turn into Latin as Indus) is a borrowing of the Old Iranian word. The name Indós is used in Megasthenes's book Indica for the mighty river crossed by Alexander based on Nearchus's contemporaneous account.
The ancient Greeks referred to the Indians (present-day India beyond the Indus River) as Ἰνδοί (Indói), the people of the Indus.
In Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, the Indus is known as درياۓ سِندھ (Daryā-e Sindh). In other languages of the region, the river is known as सिन्धु नदी (Sindhu Nadī) in Hindi, سنڌو (Sindhu) in Sindhi, سندھ (Sindh) in Punjabi, સિંધુ નદી (Sindhu) in Gujarati; اباسين (Abāsin, lit. "Father of Rivers") in Pashto, رود سند (Rūd-e Sind) in Persian, نهر السند (Naḥar al-Sind) inarticles: Indus Valley Civilization, History of Sindh, and History of Punjab
Paleolithic sites have been discovered in Pothohar near Pakistan's capital Islamabad, with the stone tools of the Soan Culture. In ancient Gandhara, near Islamabad, evidence of cave dwellers dated 15,000 years ago has been discovered at Mardan.
The major cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, such as Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, date back to around 3300 BC, and represent some of the largest human habitations of the ancient world. The Indus Valley Civilization extended from across Pakistan and northwest India, with an upward reach from east of Jhelum River to Ropar on the upper Sutlej. The coastal settlements extended from Sutkagan Dor at the Pakistan, Iran border to Kutch in modern Gujarat, India. There is an Indus site on the Amu Darya at Shortughai in northern Afghanistan, and the Indus site Alamgirpur at the Hindon River is located only 28 km (17 mi) from Delhi. To date, over 1,052 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general region of the Ghaggar-Hakra River and its tributaries. Among the settlements were the major urban centers of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, as well as Lothal, Dholavira, Ganeriwala, and Rakhigarhi. Only 90-96 of the over-800 known Indus Valley sites have been discovered on the Indus and its tributaries. The Sutlej, now a tributary of the Indus, in Harappan times flowed into the Ghaggar-Hakra River, in the watershed of which were more Harappan sites than along the Indus.
Most scholars believe that settlements of Gandhara grave culture of the early Indo-Aryans flourished in Gandhara from 1700 BC to 600 BC, when Mohenjo-daro and Harappa had already been abandoned.
The word "India" is derived from the Indus River. In ancient times, "India" initially referred to those regions immediately along the east bank of the Indus, but by 300 BC, Greek writers including Megasthenes were applying the term to the entire subcontinent that extends much farther eastward.
The lower basin of the Indus forms a natural boundary between the Iranian Plateau and the Indian subcontinent; this region embraces all or parts of the Pakistani provinces Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh and the countries Afghanistan and India. It was crossed by the invading armies of Alexander, but after his Macedonians conquered the west bank—joining it to the Hellenic Empire, they elected to retreat along the southern course of the river, ending Alexander's Asian campaign . The Indus plains were later dominated by the Persian empire and then the Kushan empire. Over several centuries Muslim armies of Muhammad bin Qasim, Mahmud of Ghazni, Mohammed Ghori, Tamerlane and Babur crossed the river to invade the inner regions of the Punjab and points farther south and east. Arabic, སེང་གེ།་གཙང་པོ (Sênggê Zangbo, lit. "Lion River") in Tibetan, and Nilab in Turki.