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INDUS

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V14, Page 507 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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INDUS, one of the three greatest rivers of northern India. A considerable accession of exact geographical knowledge has been gained of the upper reaches of the river Indus and its tributaries during those military and political move- ments which have been so constant on the northern fn the Himalaya. frontiers of India of recent years. The sources of the Indus are to be traced to the glaciers of the great Kailas group of peaks in 32° 20' N. and 81° E., which overlook the Mansarowar lake and the sources of the Brahmaputra, the Sutlej and the Gogra to the south-east. Three great affluents, flowing north-west, unite in about So° E. to form the main stream, all of them, so far as we know at present, derived from the Kailas glaciers. Of these the northern tributary points the road from Ladakh to the Jhalung goldfields, and the southern, or Gar, forms a link in the great Janglam—the Tibetan trade route—which connects Ladakh with Lhasa and Lhasa with China. Gartok (about 50 M. from the source of this southern head of the Indus) is an important point on this trade route, and is now made accessible to Indian traders by treaty with Tibet and China. At Leh, the Ladakh capital, the river has already pursued an almost even north-westerly course for 300 m., except for a remarkable divergence to the south-west which carries it across, or through, the Ladakh range to follow the same course on the southern side that had been maintained on the north. This very remarkable instance of transverse drainage across a main mountain axis occurs in 79° E., about too m. above Leh. For another 230 m., in a north-westerly direction, the Indus pursues a comparatively gentle and placid course over its sandy bed between the giant chains of Ladakh to the north and Zaskar (the main " snowy range " of the Himalaya) to the south, amidst an array of mountain scenery which, for the majesty of sheer altitude, is unmatched by any in the world. Then the river takes up the waters of the Shyok from the north (a tributary nearly as great as itself), having already captured the Zasvar from the south, together with innumerable minor glacier-fed streams. The Shyok is an important feature in Trans-Himalayan hydrography. Rising near the southern foot of the well-known Karakoram pass on The Shyok affluent. the high road between Ladakh and Kashgar, it first drains the southern slopes of the Karakoram range, and then breaks across the axis of the Murtagh chain (of which the Karakoram is now recognized as a subsidiary extension northwards) ere bending north-westwards to run a parallel course to the Indus for 15o m. before its junction with that river. The combined streams still hold on their north-westerly trend for another too m., deep hidden under the shadow of a vast array of snow-crowned summits, until they arrive within sight of the Rakapushi peak which pierces the north-western sky midway between Gilgit and Hunza. Here the great change of direction to the south-west occurs, which is thereafter maintained till the Indus reaches the ocean. At this point it receives the Gilgit river from the north-west, having dropped from 15,000 to 4000 ft. (at the junction of the rivers) The allgtt after about 500 M. of mountain descent through the aft/me+t. independent provinces of northern Kashmir. (See
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