A large land mass of south Asia is popularly referred to as the Indian subcontinent. It enfolds in its ambit a conglomeration of a chunk of countries. Although these countries exercise much of geographical and political independence yet they are bound by a common bond of lying on the same Indian tectonic plate. Countries such as India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and portions of Afghanistan lie on the continental crust of the tectonic plate while island country Sri Lanka lie on the continental shelf whilst Maldives is perched on a high above the oceanic crust.
India has always honored the Grand River Indus. So much so that India takes its name from this greatest river appearing to adorn the crown of its head for a large distance of 1,114 km. The Sanskrit meaning of Sindhu is river. Indus and thus India is the Latin variant and Hindu that of Arabic. In fact the population living in the vicinity of the mighty Sindhu was referred to as by the Arab travelers and traders as Hindus and the region as Hindustan. Indus River is the cradle of the supreme ancient urbanized civilization with its spread from the Balochistan on the highlands through Roper, Harappa and Mohenjo Daro to arid Lothal in Gujarat.
The mighty river finds its origin in the lap of the high southwestern Tibetan plateau very close to the revered Mansarover Lake popular in Tibet as Ngangla Ringco. Rivers Satluj and Brahmaputra are the other two rivers that find their inception at the Mansarover. This area is some what near to the region where the Tibetan rivers Gar and Sangge merge and consume on the Gangdise Shan and Nganglong Kangri mountain ranges. The River Indus is a natural guard protecting boundaries while giving the unified India its unique makeup. It takes its long journey northwest, into the Indian subcontinent through Ladakh-Baltistan region flowing into the Gilgit area located at the foot of the spur of the Karakoram ranges in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and other northern areas. It runs its course towards the southern direction along Peshawar and Rawalpindi until its confluence in the Arabian Sea near Karachi in Pakistan. The river is joined by the Kabul River at Attock and Panjnad River at Mithankot. Historical evidences point to the alteration in the course of flow of this river. It has gone westwards from its otherwise course that earlier spread into the swampy Rann of Kutch.
It???s rising from the glaciers peaked at the highest regions of the world contribute to the huge drainage area spread across 450,000 sq. miles. This is twice of that of another great river Nile and liberally replenishes the arid countryside, plains and the temperate forests that fall in the vicinity of this 3200 kilometers river set on a tedious trip. The river basin is a rich hub of 20 tributaries making the region a fertile land. The river is generously fed by the melting snow and the glaciers of the north western belts of the Great Himalayan ranges, the Karakoram and the Hindukush ranges. It does much to substitute for the agricultural economy of Pakistan and helps forming the breadbasket that Punjab and otherwise arid Sindh area are renowned for. The river is also known to display tidal bores. River Indus forms the illustrious and sacred sapta-sandhu delta when it joins hands with rivers Jehlum, Ravi, Chenab, Beas, Satluj and the now extinct Saraswati River in the Sindh region of Pakistan. Ironically the Indus delta is the driest in the world and lies in the neighborhood of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan.
The river on its long journey is a witness to a variety of climatic changes from sky kissing mountains covered under the blankets of thick snow on the higher ranges to the hot plains of Punjab and Sindh to the marshes, creeks, extensive swamps and mangroves before dispersing into the shallow levels of the Arabian Sea. The river is distinctive in not only feeding very important ecosystems that have emerged especially in the delta region in its last course. River Indus also supports a rich aqua life with the endemic fishes, shrimps and prawns and also gives life to many distinctive cultures and people of varied stock and ethnicities. Platanista minor is the now blind and endangered species of dolphin that is indigenous to the cloudy waters of Indus besides Macrobrachium species which is a large fresh water shrimp and other fishes on the like of hilsa, Rita cat fish etc.