The Moon River

The mystical Chenab. Originally called the Chandrabhaga in Himachal Pradesh but gets the name Chenab as it enters the state of Jammu and Kashmir. A lovely wild River that meanders through the Pir Panjals in the wild country that lies between Kashmir and Jammu proper. It was also referred as Asikni in Sanskrit and as Ascesines by the Greek. The name Chenab is made of two words Chan (Moon/ Short for Chandra) and Ab (water). The Moon River.

And quite a romantic River at that as it comes out of the Pir Panjals into the plains of Punjab. Out of the four classical romantic tragedies of Punjabi language the two most famous Heer Ranjha and Sohni Mahiwal feature the Chenab as a prominent character almost in these tragedies. Infact it can be said that the Chenab itself was the tragic villian in the Sohni Mahiwal love story, as in the end Sohni is swept away by the same Chenab that she crosses everyday to meet her lover, Mahiwal who is a shepherd across the River every night. The Moon River took her away in the end.

In arguably the famous Punjabi tragedy Heer Ranjha, Ranjha is a Jat who hails from a village located on the banks of the Chenab. This Punjabi tale is often compared to the Sheakespearen tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

The songs that Sohni sang by the banks of the Chenab revertebates in my mind as I like this

Sohni Chenab de kinare te pukaarey tera naam........ Aaja Aaja Aaja

(Translation : Sohni by the banks of the Chenab calls out to her lover Mahiwal to come to her)

Quiet a poignant song if I might say.

Chenab, the River of tragic love stories it can be said.

Its still wild. It stil makes your heart pin for your beloved.

No wonder in the Punjab it is said that the Chenab holds the same significance for the Punjabi as the Rhine does for a German or the Danube does for the Austrian it is said. It is an iconic River as far as Punjabi consciousness is concerned.

The Chenab joins the Jehlum on its way and then it merges with the Sutlej. And finally the Indus.

Pic from February 2018. The Chenab in the Valleys of Gool Gulabgarh, Jammu