Beas · Dams · Free flowing rivers · Himachal Pradesh

Tirthan’s Way

Abhay Kanvinde’s photo story of Tirthan, as the free-flowing river makes its way out of the Great Himalayan National Park, then flows close to villages, touching the people and finally when it gets dammed as it comes out of the valley that is its home.

Tirthan reminds us of Tagore’s Gitanjali, where he writes about a similar small bubbling river, the Kopai.

I have for my neighbour the tiny river Kopai.

She lacks the distinction of ancient lineage. The primitive name of hers is mixed up with the loud-laughing prattle of the Santal women of countless ages.

There is no gap for discord between the land and water in her intimacy with the village and she easily carries the whisper of her one bank to the other. Where the road comes to an abrupt break at the brink of her water, she graciously makes way for the passers-by across her crystal-clear garrulous stream.

Her speech is the speech of the humble home, not the language of the learned. Her rhythm has a common kinship both with the land and the water; her vagrant stream is unjealous of the green and golden wealth of the earth.


All photos: Abhay Kanvinde (

Tirthan in Great Himalayan National Park. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Snow packs near Jalori Pass. This snow pack gradually feeds Jibhi Khad, Tirthan’s tributary. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Tirthan in Great Himalayan National Park. One can see the watershed limits at the horizon. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Hippo Point as Tirthan gurgles out of the GNHP. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Tirthan at the boundary of GNHP. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Small rivulets meet the Tirthan, bringing the nutrients from Himalayan Forests. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Tirthan after confluence with Palchan Khad at Gada Gushaini, first big village. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Quick sketch of the scene by artist Jitendra Ghatge from Nashik
Water diverted for a trout farm. The water meets the river back again. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Debris of a road construction falling into the Tirthan, obstructing its flow at Ropa VIllage. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Anglers meditating for a Trout in Jibhi Khad. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Gharats: Local Flour mills running on Tirthan waters, the waters go back in the river. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Waterfalls are worshipped in the Tirthan Valley as “Chhoi Mata”. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Raju Bharti on the banks of Tirthan. The family and their lodge have played a pivotal role in protecting the free flowing status of Tirthan. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Trout Farm near Gushaini raising Rainbow Trouts to be stocked in the river. This is adjacent to the river. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Trout Farm near Gushaini raising Rainbow Trouts to be stocked in the river. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Confluence of Jibhi Khad and TIrthan River at Banjar. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
River Worship at Banjar, Tirthan River. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Waste Dump dangerously close to the river at Banjar. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Two photos of Lift Irrigation project n the Tirthan, supplying irrigation water to 4 villages in Tirthan Valley. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Kotla Gopalpur Stage I Water Supply scheme bringing drinking water to several village homes in the Tirthan Valley. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
One more drinking water supply scheme jackwell in Tirthan. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
As the river nears its exit point to the valley, it is disturbed more and more. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Stone crushing next to the river. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Finally after the confluence with Sainj and Beas River, the trijunction is promptly dammed Larji Hydropower Project Dam. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Warning at Larji Dam Site which claimed more than 24 lives in 2014 as water was released from the dam. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
See the entrance of fish ladder at Larji on the right. It is impossible for the fish to jump into this ladder. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde
Beas, which has Tirthan’s flow is dry, diverted and encroached downstream Larji.
A flowing, beautiful river converted into a “Dangerous” River after damming. Photo: Abhay Kanvinde

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