River Jhelum, a major tributary out of five major tributaries viz. Satluj, Beas, Ravi Chenab and Jhelum which are ultimately merging with river Indus in Pakistan is the west flowing river. The Jhelum (Vyeth in Kashmiri, Vetesta in Sanskrit and Hydaspes in Greek) is the main waterway of the Kashmir valley.Jhelum river originates from a magnificent spring called “Chashma Verinag”.
The total geographical area of Jhelum basin upto Indo-Pakistan border is about 34775 Sq.Kms. with a total length of 402 Kms. But the length of Jhelum in India upto existing ceasefire line is about 165 Kms. With a catchment area of about 17622 Sq. Kms. and lies 32°-58'-42" to 35°-08'-02" north latitude and 73°-23'-32" to 75°-35'-57" east longitude and is mainly confined within the Kasmir Valley in India. The river Jhelum runs in the Valley is surrounded by mountain ranges which rises to a height of 5487 m on the north east. Peaks of these mountainous range is mostly covered by snow cover from the month of October to May. The valley is perched at an average elevation of 1829 m above sea level and is approximately 135 Kms. in length and 32 to 40 Kms. in breadth. The Kuti and Brahmasakal are the highest peaks at 4675 mts. in elevation in the basin.
The topography of this alluvial valley is typical. The river banks as is usual with river running in alluvial plains are higher than the land behind them. The scenario of the valley of Jhelum basin looking downward shows that the main streams and its tributaries flow between high definite banks except small reach where the banks are low, ill defined and swampy, which causes the floods and loss of property.
The river Jhelum forms by the water of a spring viz. Cheshma Verinag situated at the foot hills accommodating Banihal pass in the south eastern corner of the Kashmir Valley and flows towards west through the Kashmir Valley. In the course upto Anantnag town 3 major tributaries viz. Sandran river, Bringi river and Arapath joins on its right flank. Lidder a biggest river of all the effluents that forms the head waters of river Jhelum and is fed by a number of glaciers from the high ranges, joins on its right flank at 2 km. Downstream of Khannabal town. River Vishow and Rambiara drains their water on its left flank at 4.82 Kms. upstream from Sangam town. Between Sangam and Srinagar, Jhelum river receives two small streams viz. Watlara and Arapal on the right flank, and three small streams viz. Rambiara, Sasara, Romuhi on the left flank. Romushi river ordinarily in significant swells up considerably when it is joined by spill from Rambiara river. From Khanabal to Srinagar river Jhelum flows along the right side of the valley abutting close to the hills, in a zig zag manner. As already mentioned the levels of the banks higher than the land on its left, lowest of these forms swamps and are surrounded by cultivable land, when the river is in spate and overtops its banks thus damaging the crops in the cultivable land and causes a drastic damage to crops and property. Just before the river enters the main city of Srinagar which is situated on its banks it is joined near Shergari by a stream which drains from Dal Lake. For the flood protection of main city, there is a supplementary channel with a capacity of 500 cusses just above Srinagar (near Kursu Padshahi Bagh) which functions only when the river discharge rises above the danger mark. Below the Srinagar city, the flow of Dudh-ganga combines with the river and down below nallah Sindh merges with it at Shadipora on the right bank. At Banyari 20 kms. downstream the river joins with the water of Wullar Lakes and takes off from the lake at its south west corner and flows to the west south west direction through the alluvial plain for a length of 21 kms. upto the bridge at Baramulla. At Baramulla the river enters a gorge in the hills. After flowing through this gorge for about 5 kms. the fall out channel takes off a sharp bend towards the left. The end of the gorge at Khadanyar is marked by huge rock projecting into the river from the left side. Below Khadanyar river takes a sharp turn rushing over rapids from Wullar Lake to Khadanyar in a stretch of 26 Kms. number of streams viz. Wingle, Pohru, Vij meet the river.
Brief description of some of the important tributaries of Jhelum :
a. Nallah Lidder : It is biggest of all the streams that drains the mammoth contribution to the waters of Jhelum basin. It is fed by a large number of glaciers from the high ranges towards the upper Sindh Valley and flows in gorges between high mountains for the most of the distance. The flow of this stream is from Shashnag and Tarsar Lake which join near Pahalgam Village and finally merges with river Jhelum at 2 Km downstream of Khannabal. The total area drained by this river is 580 Sq.Km after traversing a distance of 69 Km before its merger with Jhelum river.
b. Nallah Sindh : It originates from Haramukh Mount and the true head waters emerges near Zogila and Amarnath peaks. This nallah travels about 96 Kms. before it joins with river Jhelum at village Shadipur. As the river enters in the plains, it spreads into numerous branches forming an extensive delta. The delta is covered in its substantial portion by shallow marshes known as Anchar. Its catchment area is 1535.9 Sq Km
c. Nallah Vishow : Nallah Vishow originates from the foot hills of Pir Panchal range between Sidan and Banihal ranges. It is well defined channel between high banks. It traverses a total length of 60 Kms. before it joins river Jhelum at Sangam. The total length of catchment of Vishow drains is 1210 Sq. Km.
d. Rambiara Nallah : The Rambiara drains the high hills between Pir Panchal and Rupri Passes. It is a small stream having steep slope and is shallow and spread over a large and mostly dry bed divided into a numerous creeks on account of its steep slope the river experiences brief and flash floods during heavy rains/storms in the catchment. The total catchment of this stream is about 270 Sq. Km. and the total length traveled by it before it meets Vishow which is 68 Km. Rambiara merges with Vishow near Naiyana about 2 km. upstream from Sangam.
e. Dudhganga river : It rises in the central part of Pir Panchal around mountains “Tala Kosi”. Their main sources are two mountain Streams “Sungsafad” and “Yachera”. The total catchment of this stream is 165.8 Sq. Km. Dudhganga joins river Jhelum on its left flank.
f. Pohru : Pohru nallah originates from Lolab Valley in north south direction and joins the waters of out fall channel of river Jhelum about 6.5 Km. downstream of Sopore town. The Pohru drains total catchment area of about 479.15 Sq. Km. and has a length of 54.37 Km. and is an important tributary of river Jhelum.
CWC Water Year Book