G. L Khajuria
Literally speaking, Chenab acronymises a Persian derivation, Cheen means China and Aab means water, cannotating thereby China’s water. But with the revolving wheel of time, the learned school of thought negated it and attributed that the origin of Chenab is from ‘Tandi- a small village or hamlet in Himachal Pradesh (HP)adjoining our State. Even in Sanskrit texts, Chenab river finds its mention as a nectar-clear water having its origin from higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh.
According to our great epics, the Mahabharatand the Harivansha Purana, there is mention of the origin of these two mighty rivers- Chandra and Bhaga from higher reaches amidst the Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh. And after traversing through longer distances ultimately confluence at Atholi, little below Padder (Kishtwar) around 306 kms from Jammu and is named as Chandrabhaga, Chandra literally means Moon and Bhaga cannotates luck or virtue. The Chenab or Chandrabhaga as well occupies a very significant place in our revered Rigveda , wherein it has been mentioned as ‘Askini’.
Apart from, the Greeks have made a mention about Chenab river in more than many ways. Askesines and Chandrabhaga as Sandropagos viz the man eater or Alexandrapagas as the devour of Alexander the great, who attempted to cross this mighty river and had to suffer disastrously.
The Neelmat Purana, a historical tratise of Kashmir mentions about Chenab or Chandrabhaga most prominently. Poster, a well – renowened traveller in 1783 AD extensively journeyed through Kashmir and named this mighty river as Chanan. And Vigne, another traveller- cum-explorer in 1783 AD, extensively travelled the vale of Kashmir and recorded in his travelogue the Chenab’s water from Moon.
And very rightly has as such Jean Naudou, a French traveller- cum-authorhas commented about Chenab as a beautiful, ecchanting river having the biggest vibrant, lush green forest in its back drop and explains further regarding the location together with other affiliations as such: To the east and the south-east, Kashmir is in communication with upper valley of Chandrabhaga and at the foot of frontier ridge which separates the basin of Vistasta the Jhellum. Kashavata used to constute an independent principality mentioned one single time in Rajatrangni (Kalhana) but many times in the modern chronicles.
Downstream, Bhadaravakasa was attached to Champapura, while more to the south and west Champa, vallapura was an independent state where Biksacra were taking refuge, and of whom, a princess was forming a part of harem of Sussala, mentioned many times by Kalhana.
The river Chenab or chandrabhaga after confluencing at Atholi sweeps down surpentinely taking turns and twists on sharp bends sometimes too narrow and deep and at places oftenly with broader width all along its under lying bed -rocks of sub-Himalayan , pre-cambrian region relatively unchangeable in its entire route. The river, of course, accumulates various rivulets, Nallahson its either side of the catchments thereby enhancing its quantitative flow like fiery flames. The river as such forms a narrow gorge cut out of hard rock filled up with perpetual flow of water and is locked up in the rock forming a dam-like shape. And a mega Dulhasti Project generating huge power potential is the first of the formation in the history of the Charming Chenab.
And still down below , the river has been dammed at Baglihar hydrometric power project near Batote. The damming of these two hydro- electric projects have provided an ample scope of power generation. But at the same time has indeed lost its natural beauty, it enchanting tones and charming white foaming watery upheavels forever and ever.
The mighty and majestic Chenab or Chandrabhaga is having a nectar-like crystal water with very fast flow spanning its either bank, debouches from hills down and travels hundreds of thousand kilometres in the land-locked mountainous terrain and the plains down below. The river as such emerges out at Akhnoor after passing through Salal and Sawalakot Power Project and the river flows to Pakistan inter-mingling Tawi, Ravi, Satluj, Beas and other rivers, rivulets and streams. The river as such confluences other mega rivers, en route, with gushing flow and finally drains down into Arabian sea.
(The writer is former Dy. Conservator of Forest, J&K)