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Beas is an important river of Northern India having its source in the Himalayan mountain range in central Himachal Pradesh. The river courses a length of about 470 km approximately, before meeting Sutlej in Kapurthala, a district in Punjab. The basin drained along the river is 20,303 square km in area.
The name “Beas” comes from the ancient Sanskrit name of the river, “Vipasha”. The origin of Beas is in the southern side of Rohtang Pass in the Pir Panjal mountain range. Beas Kund Lake, at an altitude of 13,326 feet, is the main source that feeds the river. There are a number of tributary rivers that starts from Beas, the most important of them being Bain, Banganga, Luni and Uhlal.
The river serves as a source of water for the cities and villages along its bank. It played an important role in the development of the distinctive culture among the people of the Kullu Valley, Bajaura, Tihra, Dehra-Gopipur, Mandi, and Pandoh.
The historical importance of the river lays in the fact that it is on its banks that Alexander the Great ended his invasion of India and returned to his homeland.
The river is utilized for irrigation purposes and harnessing hydroelectricity. Several dams are constructed across its span like the Pong Dam and the Pandoh Dam. These dams were initially used for irrigation but now they are also used for power generation. The water of the river is sidetracked into a tunnel of length 53 km, connecting it to Sutlej, in the district of Mandi in Pandoh.
After flowing out from the lake of Beas Kund, the river travels through Mandi. It enters Kangra district at a height of 1920 feet and at Reh is passed into three different channels. These channels meet again at a place near Mirthal (1000 feet). Threading its way through the hills of Shivalik in Hoshiarpur, it sweeps stridently towards the North and moves through Jullundur district. Finally, it unites with Sutlej in the Kapurthala district of Punjab, which derives its name from the five rivers of The Indus Valley, namely the Ravi, Beas, Jhelum, Chenab and Sutlej. The Sutlej flows into Pakistan and meets the Chenab River at Uch. In total Beas courses a length of 470 km from its origin to meeting the river Sutlej. At its flow in the lower altitudes, it is crossed by ferries and boats.
The waters of the Beas and Sutlej are divided between India and Pakistan according to the Indus Water Treaty formed between the two nations.
There are numerous tributaries of Beas. They are Bain, Banganga, Luni, Uhlal, Awa, Banner, Chakki, Gaj, Harla, Mamuni, Parvati, Patlikuhlal, Sainj, Suketi and Tirthan.
The tributaries that branch out in the Northern part are snow fed and hence, perennial. The tributaries down the South are seasonal and get their water from the rains. The Beas and its tributaries present a new definition to the grand scenic beauty that is the Himalayas.
Drains out at the middle of the valley of Kangra and flows in the South-West direction. Its other name is Baner Khad and it is snow-fed.
- Harla River: Branches out in the north western part of Kullu and again joins it near the Kullu airport of Bhuntar.
- Gaj Khad: A snow-fed small stream, it rises in the Dhauladhar Range. Joins Beas again Maharana Pratap Sagar Lake.
- Chakki River: It gets its water from both rain and snow. The Chakki River flows through the South-Eastern end of Himachal Pradesh and into Punjab at Pathankot.
- Luni River: It originates in the Southern Dhauladhar Range and joins Beas in Kangra Valley.
- Mamuni River: It flows through steep change in gradient and provides water for cultivation on its river bed.
- Uhl River: It originates in the Northern side of Dhauladhar mountain range of Himachal Pradesh and joins Beas at Mandi. Most of its course is through the mountainous regions of Kangra.
- Tirthan River: It starts at the base of the Himalayan mountain range in South-East Kullu and flows in a South-Westerly direction, meeting Beas at Larji.
- Suketi River: This one again, originates in the Southern Dhauladhar Range and courses its way through a steep valley forming terraces. These terraces are widely cultivated.
- Sainj River: It cuts a V-shaped valley along its course and its direction of flow is South-west.