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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/54

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RIVERS

finds it hard to realize that, when the summer heats melt the Himalayan snows, and the monsoon currents, striking against the northern mountain walls, are precipitated in torrents of rain, the rush of water to the plains swells the river 20, 30, 40, or even 50 fold. The sandy bed then becomes full from bank to bank, and the silt laden waters spill over into the cultivated lowlands beyond. Accustomed to the stable streams of his own land, he cannot conceive the risks the riverside farmer in the Panjab runs of having fruitful fields smothered in a night with barren sand, or lands and well and house sucked into the river-bed. So great and sudden are the changes, bad and good, wrought by river action that the loss and gain have to be measured up year by year for revenue purposes. Nor is the visitor likely to imagine that the main channel may in a few seasons become a quite subsidiary or wholly deserted bed. Like all streams, e.g. the Po, which flow from the mountains into a flat terrain, the Panjab rivers are perpetually silting up their beds, and thus, by their own action, becoming diverted into new channels or into existing minor ones, which are scoured out afresh. If our traveller, leaving the railway at Rawalpindi, proceeds by tonga to the capital of Kashmir, he will find between Kohala and Baramula another surprise awaiting him. The noble but sluggish river of the lowlands, which he crossed at the town of Jhelam, is here a swift and deep torrent, flowing over a boulder bed, and swirling round waterworn rocks in a gorge hemmed in by mountains. That is the typical state of the Himalayan rivers, though the same Jhelam above Baramula is an exception, flowing there sluggishly through a very flat valley into a shallow lake.

The Indus Basin.— The river Sindh (Sanskrit, Sindhu), more familiar to us under its classical name of the Indus,