The Sutlej River (sometimes spelled Satluj River) is the largest of the five rivers that flow through the famed crossroads region of Punjab, India, and Pakistan. The river flows through Pakistan, passing through the Vindhya Mountain Range to the north, the Hindu Kush division of the Himalayan Mountain Ranges to the south, and the Central Sulaiman Range to the east. The Sutlej River has a length of 1,450 kilometers. The Kol Dam, Bhakra Nangal Dam, Baspa Hydroelectric Power Project, and Nathpa Jhakri Project are some of the hydroelectric power and irrigation projects built along the river.


The Beas River joins the river in Punjab, after which it flows on to join the Chenab River. After merging with the Panjnad River, the Chenab River flows into the Indus.

The Sutlej Valley was known as the Garuda Valley by the ancient Tibetan civilization, and it was the seat of their kingdom. The valley was kilometers long, and it was here that the Zhang Zhung culture built the magnificent Kyunglung palace, whose remnants may still be seen today. The kings of the day used the river as a mode of transportation. The Sutlej River was also utilized to transport Devdar trees to regions along the river’s banks, such as Bilaspur and Hamirpur.

A boat in the middle of a river with trees in the background

A boat is moored in the middle of a river, with trees in the distance.

The start and end points of the river

Lake Rakshastal in the Tibetan Plateau is where the Sutlej River begins. According to popular belief, the river was formed by the Hindus’ sacred Mansarovar Lake. Experts believe that this misconception stems from the fact that both of these lakes are close together. The adjacent Gurla Mandata Mountains’ ice melts and flows down to the Mansarovar Lake, which subsequently supplies water to Lake Rakshastal during the monsoon months, particularly in August. The Sutlej River is thought to have begun as a result of the overflow of this water.

At an elevation of 6,608 meters, the river enters India by flowing west and south-west across the Shipki La pass in Himachal Pradesh. The Sutlej River flows north of the Vindhya Range, east of the Pakistani Central Makran Range, and south of the Hindu Kush.

After that, the river runs through Punjab until it meets the Beas River. The confluence of these two rivers forms the 105-kilometer India-Pakistan border. Before joining the Chenab River, the river flows for another 350 kilometers. The Panjnad is formed where the Sutlej and Chenab rivers meet and pour into the Indus River.

Brown rocky mountain near a flowing river

The Tributaries of the River Sutlej

The primary tributaries of the Sutlej River are the Baspa, Spiti, Nogli Khad, and Soan Rivers.

  • River Baspa

After passing over the Himalayan range, the river drains into the Sutlej. Previously, it was linked by many smaller rivers fed by snowmelt. The river rises in the Baspa Mountains and flows into the Sutlej River in Kinnuar.

  • The Nogli Khad

At Rampur Bushahar, the Nogli Khad joins the Sutlej River before passing through Kullu. After that, the river enters the Mandi district and flows through some of the district’s most important areas. In the Mandi district, the Sutlej has a large number of tributaries.

Pleasant scenic view of a river with ripples

Scenic view of a river at sunset

  • River Spiti

The Tegpo and Kabzian streams, which originate in the Kunzum mountains, are tributaries of the Spiti River. This river gets its water from the Pin Valley. During the summer months, when the glaciers are melting, the river reaches its highest flow. The Spiti River travels through the Spiti Valley before joining the Sutlej in Kinnaur.

  • River Soan

The Soan River originates on the Shivalik range’s southern slopes. It meets the Sutlej River on the Himachal Pradesh-Punjab border. The river flows pleasantly through the slopes and has a moderate gradient. During the summer, the water flow is gentle, but during the monsoon months, it becomes more powerful.


It draws a huge number of tourists throughout the year because it is India’s largest dam. To promote tourism in this region of Himachal Pradesh, the Himachal Pradesh Travel and Tourism Department has built guest homes near the Bhakra Nangal Dam. The Ganguwal and Kotla Power Houses generate hydroelectric power from a natural fall in addition to the man-made dam. Along the dam’s perimeter, picnic areas abound.



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