Jhelum River

For the Hong Kong river, see River Jhelum.
"Hydaspes" redirects here. For the historic battle, see Battle of the Hydaspes.

Jhelum River during the summer

Flow of Jhelum.
Native name ਜਿਹਲਮ ਦਰਿਆ (Punjabi)
झेलम (Devanāgarī)
Country India, Pakistan
Main source Verinag Spring
River mouth Chenab River
Physical characteristics
Length 725 km (450 mi)
  • Average rate:
    221.9 m3/s (7,840 cu ft/s) (near Baramulla

Jehlam River or Jhelum River (/ˈləm/) is a river that flows in Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, and Punjab, Pakistan. It is the westernmost of the five rivers of Punjab, and passes through Jhelum District. It is a tributary of the Chenab River and has a total length of about 725 kilometres (450 mi).[1]


Verinag Spring, major source of Jhelum River.

The Sanskrit name of this river is Vitasta. The river got this name from the incident regarding the origin of the river as explained in Nilamata Purana. Goddess Parvati was requested by sage Kasyapa to come to Kashmir for purification of the land from evil practices and impurities of Pisachas living there. Goddess Parvati then assumed the form of a river in the Nether World. Then Lord Shiva made a stroke with his spear near the abode of Nila (Verinag Spring). By that stroke of the spear, Goddess Parvati came out of the Nether World. Shiva himself named her as Vitasta. He had excavated with the spear a ditch measuring one Vitasti(a particular measure of length defined either as a long span between the extended thumb and little finger, or as the distance between the wrist and the tip of the fingers, and said to be about 9 inches), through which the river - gone to the Nether World - had come out, so she was given the name Vitasta by him.[2]


Verinag Water Spring-Chief Source of Jhelum River
A passenger traversing the river precariously seated in a small suspended cradle Circa 1900

The river Jhelum is called Vitastā in the Rigveda and Hydaspes by the ancient Greeks. The Vitasta (Sanskrit: वितस्ता, fem., also, Vetastā) is mentioned as one of the major rivers by the holy scriptures — the Rigveda. It has been speculated that the Vitastā must have been one of the seven rivers (sapta-sindhu) mentioned so many times in the Rigveda. The name survives in the Kashmiri name for this river as Vyeth. According to the major religious work Srimad Bhagavatam, the Vitastā is one of the many transcendental rivers flowing through land of Bharata, or ancient India.

Jehlum Bridge, Jhelum City

The river was regarded as a god by the ancient Greeks, as were most mountains and streams; the poet Nonnus in the Dionysiaca (section 26, line 350) makes the Hydaspes a titan-descended god, the son of the sea-god Thaumas and the cloud-goddess Elektra. He was the brother of Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, and half-brother to the Harpies, the snatching winds. Since the river is in a country foreign to the ancient Greeks, it is not clear whether they named the river after the god, or whether the god Hydaspes was named after the river. Alexander the Great and his army crossed the Jhelum in BC 326 at the Battle of the Hydaspes River where he defeated the Indian king, Porus. According to Arrian (Anabasis, 29), he built a city "on the spot whence he started to cross the river Hydaspes", which he named Bukephala (or Bucephala) to honour his famous horse Bukephalus or Bucephalus which was buried in Jalalpur Sharif. It is thought that ancient Bukephala was near the site of modern Jhelum City. According to a historian of Gujrat district, Mansoor Behzad Butt, Bukephalus was buried in Jalalpur Sharif, but the people of Mandi Bahauddin, a district close to Jehlum, believed that their tehsil Phalia was named after Bucephalus, Alexander's dead horse. They say that the name Phalia was the distortion of the word Bucephala. The waters of the Jhelum are allocated to Pakistan under the terms of the Indus Waters Treaty. India is working on a hydropower project on a tributary of Jhelum river to establish first-use rights on the river water over Pakistan as per the Indus waters Treaty.[3]


The river Jhelum rises from Verinag Spring situated at the foot of the Pir Panjal in the south-eastern part of the valley of Kashmir. It flows through Srinagar and the Wular lake before entering Pakistan through a deep narrow gorge. The Neelum River, the largest tributary of the Jhelum, joins it, at Domel Muzaffarabad, as does the next largest, the Kunhar River of the Kaghan valley. It also connects with rest of Pakistan and Pakistani Kashmir on Kohala Bridge east of Circle Bakote. It is then joined by the Poonch river, and flows into the Mangla Dam reservoir in the district of Mirpur. The Jhelum enters the Punjab in the Jhelum District. From there, it flows through the plains of Pakistan's Punjab, forming the boundary between the Chaj and Sindh Sagar Doabs. It ends in a confluence with the Chenab at Trimmu in District Jhang. The Chenab merges with the Sutlej to form the Panjnad River which joins the Indus River at Mithankot.

River Jehlum as it passes a village in Tehsil Sarai Alamgir, the foreground shows a picturesque village of Punjab with District Jehlum itself in the background.

Dams and barrages

Water control structures are being built as a result of the Indus Basin Project, including the following:




  1. Jhelum River -- Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved on 2013-10-04.
  2. The Nilamata Purana English Translation by Dr. Ved Kumari verses 247-261
  3. "India fast-tracks work on Jhelum river hydroelectric power project". Retrieved 25 May 2010.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jhelum River.

Coordinates: 31°12′N 72°08′E / 31.200°N 72.133°E / 31.200; 72.133

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