Shigar River is a left bank tributary of the
Indus River in
Ladakh . It rises
from the glacier at the base of the Nunkun peak on the north-facing slopes
of the main Himalayan mountain range, which hems the Kashmir Valley.
Thereafter this river drains northwards and merges with the Indus River at
Marol, upstream of Skardu.
The River Traits
Steep slopes are a characteristic feature of the upper catchment area of this river. Other features include hanging valleys, moraines, and cirques.
A number of snow-fed tributaries join the Shigar (South) River at various places. These include:
· The River Drass
· The River Shiugo
· The River Suru
· The River Wakha
Vegetation is confined to alpine meadows on sheltered moraines and strips along snowmelt waters. Human habitation is sparse in this part of cold desert; still some important settlements along this river include Kargil, Tolti, and Marol.
The Drass (also spelt as Dras) River is an important tributary of the Shigar (South) River, which in turn drains into the Indus at Marol. It rises from the snowy wastes and small glaciers on the northern face of the main Himalayan range. Thereafter this river flows towards the north to merge with the Shigar (South) River.
Small rivers fed by glacial melt-waters combine to form the Drass River. The terrain resembles a typical glaciated topography. It consists of amphitheaters, hanging valleys, morainal deposits, and cirques. In its lower reaches the river slows down considerably.
The entire catchment area is devoid of a vegetative cover as it lies in the rain-shadow of the main Himalayan range. Scanty vegetative growth is present in a narrow strip along channels formed by snowmelt waters. The discharge of the Drass River rises drastically in late summer when it receives a large quantity of water from the melting snow.
The Shiugo is a small tributary of the Shigar (South) river system, rising from the northeastern slopes of the main Himalayan range near the Burzil Pass. Permanent deposits of snow feed this river. Thereafter the Shiugo River flows towards east and merges with the Drass River upstream of Kargil.
Glacial action has shaped the present topography of the Shiugo catchment area. A snow-fed tributary from the southern slopes of the Deosai Mountains meets the main river a short distance upstream of where it merges with the Drass.
Vegetation is confined to alpine meadows on moraines and along channels of snowmelt waters. Human habitation too is very sparse in the Shiugo Valley.
Another small tributary of the Shigar (South) River is the river Suru. It rises from the snowy wastes on the northern slopes of the main Himalayan range and merges with the Shigar (South) River after a short distance. Small snow-fed channels empty themselves into the Suru River at various places along its course.
The entire catchment of this river has been carved by the action of glaciers both ancient and present. In winter, snow covers a large part of the Suru Valley and lies on the ground till mid-May. The river channel sometimes freezes in severe winters.
The valley bottom is strewn with boulders and moraines brought down by glaciers. Small hanging valleys open into the main valley. There is virtually no vegetative growth in the Suru catchment.