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The Beas River: A Cradle of Hill Culture in Himachal Pradesh

Updated on December 19, 2017
SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

Travelling is my passion as it gives a chance to visit different places and enjoy the natural and manmade marvels.

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The Beas River in Himachal PradeshThe gushing waters of Beas
The Beas River in Himachal Pradesh
The Beas River in Himachal Pradesh | Source
The gushing waters of Beas
The gushing waters of Beas | Source

The Beas River

Many civilizations flourished and perished in the hoary past on the riverbanks. Rivers like Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, Chenab, Yamuna and Giri which cut through Himachal Pradesh can truly be regarded as the cradle of its ancient culture.

Many historical towns and capitals of former rulers of princely states flourished on the banks of the Beas River. In addition, the number of temples was also built in these small towns.

The Beas Kund

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A view of beautiful blue Beas Kund or lake formed from the many streams from the Beas glacier before becoming Beas River Beas KundBeas temple at the Beas Kund. This is not the origin or the source of Beas river.Inside View of Beas temple
A view of beautiful blue Beas Kund or lake formed from the many streams from the Beas glacier before becoming Beas River
A view of beautiful blue Beas Kund or lake formed from the many streams from the Beas glacier before becoming Beas River | Source
Beas Kund
Beas Kund | Source
Beas temple at the Beas Kund. This is not the origin or the source of Beas river.
Beas temple at the Beas Kund. This is not the origin or the source of Beas river. | Source
Inside View of Beas temple
Inside View of Beas temple | Source
The Glacial Mouth of Beas Kund
The Glacial Mouth of Beas Kund | Source

The Beas Kund

The river rises from Beas Kund situated in the Himalayan glacier in Lahaul & Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh in India.

It is one of the five rivers including Sindhu or Indus River of famous and ancient Indus valley civilization. The name India has also come from Indus River.

It traverses a course of about 472 Km, before merging into Sutlej in Punjab.

The River in Legends

In Vedas, the Beas River has been referred to as Arjikuja and was called Bipasha in ancient times. The river got its name from the great sage Veda Vyasa of Mahabharata fame, who was so impressed by the beauty of its surrounding mountains that he performed Tapasya or meditative penance here to gain the spiritual powers.

According to the legend connected with the Ramayana era, a sage called Shringi Rishi, by whose blessings Lord Rama was born, one day tied himself with ropes out of frustration and flung himself into the River. But the miraculous powers of the river saved him and released him of all frustration. Since then the Beas has also been known as Bipasha, which means release from all bonds.

Around 325 BC, the Greeks called it Hyphasis, as it became the eastern limit of the Empire of Alexander the Great when his army refused to cross it. Alexander agreed to their demand to return home and ended his 8-year expedition after raising altars to mark the limit of his territory on the banks of Beas River.

Beas Kund ar Rohtang pass in Himachal Pradesh

show route and directions
A markerRohtang Pass -
Rohtang La, Himachal Pradesh
get directions

Rohtang pass is situated at an altitude of 4,350 meters above the sea level and about 51 km towards the north of international tourist town Manali.

B markerBeas Kund -
Beas Kund, Burwa, Himachal Pradesh 175131
get directions

It is towards the south of Rohtang Pass ( Manali Leh Road), that the Beas River rises at 4,361 meters above the main sea-level.

The Journey Along Beas

The journey along the course of Beas is highly enjoyable. The river passes through enchanting valleys of Kullu, Mandi an, Kangra districts.

Rising from the source in Beas Kund, on the Rohtang pass, the river flows majestically through various vales and dales and finally leaves Himachal at Mirthal.

The Beas waters have been diverted into Sutlej river through a big tunnel by constructing a dam at Pandoh in Mandi district. The river was earlier known as a River of Sorrow in Punkab. But after the construction of Pong Dam in Kangra district, it has now become the harbinger of prosperity.

The Tributaries of Beas

The small rivulets namely Uhl, Suketi, Son, Bain, Neugal, Banganga, Luni etc., are the chief tributaries of Beas along its course in Himachal Pradesh.

At Manali

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Beas River at ManaliThe Beas River in Winter
Beas River at Manali
Beas River at Manali | Source
The Beas River in Winter
The Beas River in Winter | Source

Manali-The First place Along the Course

The Manali town named after sage Manu and situated on the banks of River Beas has come up as one of the most beautiful and world famous tourist resort. It is a picturesque town snowcapped peaks and dense deodar forests. The Hidimba temple, Vashist temple, and Arjun Cave are the important religious spots in this beautiful land.

Of late the Mountaineering Institute has been set up at Manali. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first prime Minister of India was so fascinated with its exquisite scenery and soothing climate, that he always made it a point to visit Manali for a few days every year. This added to the popularity of this hill resort.

Naggar

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The Naggar CastleFine woodwork at Naggar CastleWay to Roreich Art GalleryThe Majestic view of Beas River from Naggar
The Naggar Castle
The Naggar Castle | Source
Fine woodwork at Naggar Castle
Fine woodwork at Naggar Castle | Source
Way to Roreich Art Gallery
Way to Roreich Art Gallery | Source
The Majestic view of Beas River from Naggar
The Majestic view of Beas River from Naggar | Source

Naggar

Another town Naggar, situated about 5 Km from Katrain on way from Manali to Kullu on the left bank of Beas, commands the splendid view of Manali. Nagger was the capital of erstwhile Kullu state. This small place is also famous for its traditional wood crafts.

Nicholas Roerich, the famous Russian painter was so enchanted with the scenic beauty of Nagger that he made it his permanent home. His paintings have become a rich treasure of the valley and are displayed at Roerich museum here.

The Tripura Sundari and Gauri Shankar temples at Naggar are worth seeing for their fine architecture.

At Kullu

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River Beas along the Kullu Town The View of Beas River from Bijli Mahadev at Kullu, The next Photograph of the spot belowConfluence of River Beas and River Parvati  at Bhuntar and the Bijli Mmahavev Peak on the right
River Beas along the Kullu Town
River Beas along the Kullu Town | Source
The View of Beas River from Bijli Mahadev at Kullu, The next Photograph of the spot below
The View of Beas River from Bijli Mahadev at Kullu, The next Photograph of the spot below
Confluence of River Beas and River Parvati  at Bhuntar and the Bijli Mmahavev Peak on the right
Confluence of River Beas and River Parvati at Bhuntar and the Bijli Mmahavev Peak on the right | Source

Kullu

Another ancient town just 40 km from Manali, on the right bank of Beas, is Kullu. It presently enjoys the status and an international fame as a tourist resort. It was the capital of the erstwhile princely state of Kullu and rose to the fame in the ancient days for being situated on the old silk route.

The international Dussehra fair of Kullu which lasts for seven days has greatly added to the tourist appeal. The origin of Dussehra owes its origin to the princely days. Raja Jagat Singh first initiated the practice of assembling the village gods to pay homage to Raghunathgi, the ruling deity of Kullu.

Across the river at an altitude of 8000 feet is Bijli Mahadev, where the Shivlinga is struck by the lightning every year even to this day.

The entire valley is studded with apple, cherry and plum orchards. The rich handicrafts of Kullu are known all over the world. The Kullu shawls and dohrus or blankets are very popular and attractive.

An old Photograph of Ancient Mandi Town
An old Photograph of Ancient Mandi Town

Mandi Town

After leaving the Kullu district at Nagwain, the Beas flows through the narrow gorges and reaches the historical Mandi town known as Kashi of Himachal Pradesh. Mandi is an ancient town and was the capital of erstwhile Mandi state. Though the town abounds temples, yet its ancient Shiva temples like Bhutnath, Teriloknath, Panchvaktra and Srdhnarishwar are worth seeing.

The international Shivratri fair held every year draws huge crowds from within and outside the state. Hundreds of village gods assemble on the famous Paddal ground and the cultural programs are held there in the evenings for the seven days.

Beas River near Mandi Town

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Beas reaching the Mandi townThe gushing waters of Beas under the Victoria Bridge (1677) at MandiBeas river at the Confluence of Suketi rivulet at mandi Town
Beas reaching the Mandi town
Beas reaching the Mandi town | Source
The gushing waters of Beas under the Victoria Bridge (1677) at Mandi
The gushing waters of Beas under the Victoria Bridge (1677) at Mandi
Beas river at the Confluence of Suketi rivulet at mandi Town
Beas river at the Confluence of Suketi rivulet at mandi Town

Kangra

After Mandi, the River river reaches at an altitude of 590 meters at Sandhol and enters district Kangra. Coming out of deep gorges the river here base becomes wide.

At several harbors called pattans like Kandapatan, Sandapatan etc. the boats, ferries and inflated animal skins or pharnais are used to ferry the people. It is the boat steersmen or drai community which still continues their family tradition.

The river gets divided into three prongs at Reh which again rejoin at 300 meters above sea level at Murthal. The Beas finally leaves Himachal Pradesh at Murthal and enters the state of Punjab.

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A panoramic view of Beas at kandapattanBeas at kandapattanBoating at Beas at KandapattanAhead of Kandapattan at SidhpurSandhol road alongwith river Beas
A panoramic view of Beas at kandapattan
A panoramic view of Beas at kandapattan
Beas at kandapattan
Beas at kandapattan
Boating at Beas at Kandapattan
Boating at Beas at Kandapattan
Ahead of Kandapattan at Sidhpur
Ahead of Kandapattan at Sidhpur
Sandhol road alongwith river Beas
Sandhol road alongwith river Beas | Source

The Sujanpur Town

Following the course of the River Beas further, we find ourselves in the historic town of Sujanpur Tira, famous for the Kangra miniature paintings. There is a rich treasure of miniature e paintings at the royal palace.

It also remained the capital of erstwhile Kangra state for some time and attained great fame during the reign of Raja Sansar Chand, the great patron of art and learning.

Sujanpur can boast of its famous Sainik or Military School, besides the famous Holi festival.

The Pong Dam and other Dams on Beas

The second-phase of Pong Dam at Talwara was completed in 1974 under the Beas Irrigation and Hydroelectric Project whiles the first-phase situated 142 Km upstream at Pandoh and became operational in 1977. The former generates 360 MW and the latter diverts the waters to augment the Satluj River after generating 990 MW at Dehar.

The Pong dam reservoir on the Beas River provides great scope for fishing and water sports. The authorities are developing it as a Water Sports Complex. It is also a home of several migratory birds which visit the wetland every year from the distant places including Siberia.

Another Dam of 126 MW capacity has been built at Larji, upstream Pandoh.

Punjab

On reaching the Shivalik Hills in Punjab at Hoshiarpur, the Beas River takes a sharp turn towards the north and forms a boundary with district Kangra.

Thereafter it moves towards the south and divides Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur districts of Punjab by taking a bend around the base of the Shivalik Hills, moves along Jullundur district and divides the districts of Amritsar and Kapurthala. At last, the river merges into the gushing waters of Sutlej River at the southwest end of Kapurthala district.

Pakistan

The Satluj River enters Pakistan and at Uch in Bahawalpur, it joins the Chenab River which also comes to Lahaul & Spiti but runs through Kashmir.

Thereafter at Mithankot, the collective waters merge into the Indus River. The Indus Water Treaty allocates the waters of the rivers to Pakistan and India.

The Beas Tragedy

It was the untoward day of 8th June 2014 that out of 48 students of Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology Hyderabad, that 24 students including the tour operator and 6 girls were washed away in the gushing waters of Beas River.

The students were on an excursion cum educational tour to Manali and they had stopped about one Km downstream Larji for photography and sight-seeing. The students descended down into the little waters in the river bed. Suddenly the Larji Dam authorities opened the flood gates of the dam without giving any warning. The river water rose to more than 6 feet and the students were washed away in the surges.

At the behest of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh, a case of criminal negligence has been registered against the dam authorities.

© 2014 Sanjay Sharma

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    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image
      Author

      Sanjay Sharma 3 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

      Thanks Writer Fox for the visit and the compliment. Indeed, it is a beautiful place.

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      What a beautiful country you live in! This article is very informative and well-written. I gave it a thumbs up!

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image
      Author

      Sanjay Sharma 3 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

      Thanks ChitrangadaSharan for the visit. I am glad that you liked the hub.

    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image
      Author

      Sanjay Sharma 3 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

      Thanks teaches12345 for the visit and the comment. Indeed Naggar castle is a beautiful place to visit.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      What a great hub about Himachal Pradesh!

      I have visited most of these locations and the feeling was just heavenly. Great writing and amazing pictures and video. Thanks for sharing! Voted up and pinned on my Travel board!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      The Naggar castle looks interesting and I would love to explore the grounds. What a beautiful river! Thanks for sharing this part of our world. I enjoy learning about other places and cultures.

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