The Shyok River is an important tributary of the Indus
River in Ladakh . The
main stream rises from the snowy wastes on the Despang plains in northern
Ladakh, north of the Karakoram range
The river flows westwards its initial stages, then turns southeast and makes a U-turn near Shyok to flow towards the northwest. It flows into the Indus about 40 km upstream of Skardu.
Many tributaries join the Shyok River. Important amongst these are:
· Chang Celmo River
· The Chipshap River
· The Galiwan River
· The Chus River
· The Nubra River
· The Saltoro River
This river makes a V-shaped bend around the Karakoram range and marks the southeastern extremity of this mountain system. The entire catchment area of this river is almost devoid of a vegetative cover. The important human settlements that have come up along this river are Shukpa, Kunzang, Shyok, Siari and Khapalu.
Chang Celmo river
The Chang Celmo River is a tributary of the Shyok River which joins the Indus River in Ladakh. This river originates from a large glacier on the western slopes of the Lanak La pass on the eastern border of Ladakh and Tibet. The Chang Celmo River then flows westwards along the northern base of an offshoot range of the Karakoram before flowing into the Shyok River a short distance downstream of Shukpa Kuzang.
Snow-covered high mountains encircle the Chang Celmo valley from all sides. The river descends along a series of rapids. A thick deposit of sediments has been laid down along the river bed. The Chang Celmo River freezes during the winter season. It is in spate in late summer when the snow in its catchment area melts at a faster pace.
The Chang Celmo valley is bleak and remote. Vegetation is sparse. Pamzal is one of the few human settlements that have arisen along this river. The trail from Chushul to Lanak La crosses this valley.
The Chipshap River is a tributary of the Shyok River, which in turn joins the Indus River in Ladakh. It rises from a glacier tenanted in a cirque on the Despang plains in northeastern Ladakh, north of the Karakoram range. This river then flows westwards along the base of an offshoot range branching towards the east from the Karakoram Pass, makes a gentle U-turn and proceeds further in a southeasterly direction.
Thereafter it flows along the western slopes of the Sasser La pass before joining the Shyok River near the latter's confluence with the Galiwan River.
Small glaciers inside valleys open into the main valley glacier whose snout gives rise to the Chipshap River. The meltwaters from these glaciers join the main stream at various stages. The valley bottom is relatively gentle but the side slopes are steep. The Chipshap River descends over a series of rapids and small waterfalls. A major snow-fed tributary flows into the main river just as it begins to take a U-turn. The western slopes of the Sasser La pass are very steep and extend right up to the river bed. Moraines are strewn all over the valley floor.
Virtually no vegetation exists in the catchment area of the Chipshap River. The trail from Sasser La to the Karakoram pass crosses the Chipshap Valley.
The Galiwan River is an important tributary of the Chipshap River, which in turn drains into the Shyok River in the northeastern part of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. The main stream of this river rises near the Depsang plain at an elevation of over 5,000 m. The points of origin of the rivers Galiwan and Chipshap are near each other.
The Galiwan then follows a southwesterly course before joining the Chipshap. Another channel of the Galiwan River comes in from the east. It is fed by a number of snow-fed streams originating from glaciers lying above. They form a tributary channel before merging with the Galiwan River a little upstream of the latter's confluence with the Chipshap.
The entire catchment area of this river is glaciated. Tonnes of ice descend from the mountains. It is completely devoid of a vegetative cover. There is no human habitation in this tract and it is very desolate and remote. Waters from the snow that melt very rapidly in summer cause the level to rise very fast in the early afternoon every day during this season.
The Nubra River is a tributary of the Shyok River, which in turn drains into the Indus River in the Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir. This river rises from a glacier in a depression to the east of Saltoro Kangri peak and northwest of the Sasser La pass. It flows towards the southeast to join the Shyok River downstream of Shyok village at the base of the Ladakh range.
The entire Nubra Valley has been carved by ancient glaciers which have now receded. The valley bottom lies at an average elevation of over 4,000 m. The river descends along a steep gradient to merge with the Shyok River.
Deposits brought down by the glacier in past ages are found strewn all over the Nubra Valley. These are intermingled with alluvial deposits laid down by the running water in the recent past. Waterfalls descending from hanging valleys open into the Nubra Valley at various places.
The entire catchment area is devoid of any type of vegetation. This is due to the high elevation and lack of rainfall. Human habitation is virtually absent in the Nubra Valley.
The Saltoro River is a tributary of the Hughe River which, in turn drains into the Shyok. It rises as two main streams from glaciers at the base of the Saltoro Kangri peak in Ladakh. The northwestern main stream flows southeast and then turns southwest to merge with the northeastern main stream flowing towards the northwest.
The two main streams join together in the middle course of the river and the Saltoro flows for a short distance before draining into the Hughe River.
The entire valley of the Saltoro River has been carved by the action of glaciers. Deposits of moraines brought down by ancient glaciers are found all along the river right from its origin to the mouth. Small tributary snow-fed streams empty themselves into the main river, usually from hanging valleys at different places.
The discharge of this river increases in late summer when the snow on the high mountains melts at a very fast rate. The entire catchment area is devoid of a vegetative cover. Human habitation is virtually absent and the tract is bleak and desolate.