Thinking Citizen Blog — The Indus — from Harappa to Babur’s Crossing to Pakistan

Thinking Citizen Blog — Wednesday is Climate Change, the Environment, and Sustainability Day

Today’s Topic — The Indus — from Harappa (3300 BC) to Babur’s Crossing (1525) to Pakistan (1947)

India gets its name from the Indus River. Punjab, in Pakistan, means “five rivers,” all of which are tributaries of the Indus. And Punjab is the country’s breadbasket. The Indus supplies most of Pakistan’s potable water. Two ancient cities Harappa and Mohenjo-daro date back to 3300 BC and may have had 30–60,000 inhabitants with the civilizations counting perhaps 1 to 5 million. Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan, crossed the Indus in 1525 and founded the Mughal Empire (1526–1857). Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate

BASICS — course, length, flow

1. The longest river in Pakistan, the Indus flows from China (western Tibet), through India, into Pakistan, through the province of Punjab, then through Sindh (which also gets its name from the river) and into the Arabian Sea. The river is fed by the snow and glaciers of the Himalayas. It is 1976 miles long — compared to 1616 for the Ganges.

2. The flow of the river is 2X that of the Nile.

3. Seasonality: shrinks during the winter, floods during monsoon season (July to September).

THE ANCIENT INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATIONS (3300–1300 BC: Harappa and Mohenjo-doro

1. Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, the two great cities of the Indus Valley civilization, were not re-discovered until the 1920s. Their heyday was 2500 to 1900 BC.

2. Roughly contemporaneous with Minoan Crete, Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, and Norte Chico.

3. The Harappa site was “heavily damaged under British rule, when bricks from the ruins were used as track ballast in the construction of the Lahore-Multan Railway.”

NB: The Mohenjo-daro site is “now threatened by erosion and improper restoration.”


1. Descendent of Timur (1336–1405) through his father and Genghis Khan (1155–1227) through his mother.

2. Born in Fergana (in present-day Uzbekistan), Babur ruled from Samarkand, but after losing the city three times turned his attention south toward present-day India.

3. He first defeated the Afghans at Panipat (1526) and the Rajputs at Khanwa (1527). The circumstances of his death are mysterious. He may have been poisoned by the mother of the defeated Ibrahim Lodi, Sultan of Delhi.

NB: Babur is a national hero in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and the Pakistani cruise missile was named in his honor in 2005. His poems have been turned into Uzbeki songs and his autobiography (the “Baburnama”), according to some, is up there with those of St. Augustine and Rousseau. I have not checked it out — yet. Have you? The last link has details.

Indus River






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