Chindwin River

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Chindwin River
Homalin aerial.jpg
The Chindwin at Homalin. The smaller, meandering Uyu River can be seen joining the Chindwin.
Country Burma
Physical characteristics
  location Hukawng Valley, Kachin State
  elevation1,134 m (3,720 ft)
Irrawaddy River
21°28′26″N95°16′53″E / 21.47389°N 95.28139°E / 21.47389; 95.28139 Coordinates: 21°28′26″N95°16′53″E / 21.47389°N 95.28139°E / 21.47389; 95.28139
55 m (180 ft)
Length1,207 km (750 mi)

The Chindwin or, officially, Chindwinn [1] River (Burmese : ချင်းတွင်းမြစ်, IPA:  [tɕɪ́ɴdwɪ́ɴ mjɪʔ] ) is a river in Burma (Myanmar), and the largest tributary of the country's chief river the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy). It flows entirely within Burma and is known as Ning-thi to the Meiteis. [2]

Burmese language language spoken in Myanmar

The Burmese language is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken in Myanmar where it is an official language and the language of the Bamar people, the country's principal ethnic group. Although the Constitution of Myanmar officially recognizes the English name of the language as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese, after Burma, the older name for Myanmar. In 2007, it was spoken as a first language by 33 million, primarily the Bamar (Burman) people and related ethnic groups, and as a second language by 10 million, particularly ethnic minorities in Myanmar and neighboring countries.

Tributary stream or river that flows into a main stem river or lake

A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem river drain the surrounding drainage basin of its surface water and groundwater, leading the water out into an ocean.

Meitei people Ethnic group of India

The Meitei people are the majority ethnic group of Manipur, a northeastern state of India. Meitei is an endonym or autonym while Manipuri is an exonym. They primarily settle in the central plain region of Manipur. A significant population of the Meitei also are settled in domestic neighboring states such as Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. They have also settled in Bangladesh and Myanmar.



The Chindwin originates in the broad Hukawng Valley of Kachin State of Burma, roughly 26°26′18″N96°33′32″E / 26.43833°N 96.55889°E / 26.43833; 96.55889 , where the Tanai, the Tabye, the Tawan, and the Taron (also known as Turong or Towang) rivers meet.

Hukawng Valley valley

The Hukawng Valley is an isolated valley in Myanmar, roughly 5,586 square miles (14,468 km2) in area. It is located in Tanaing Township in the Myitkyina District of Kachin State in the northernmost part of the country.

Kachin State State in Northern, Myanmar

Kachin State is the northernmost state of Myanmar. It is bordered by China to the north and east ; Shan State to the south; and Sagaing Region and India to the west. It lies between north latitude 23° 27' and 28° 25' longitude 96° 0' and 98° 44'. The area of Kachin State is 89,041 km2 (34,379 sq mi). The capital of the state is Myitkyina. Other important towns include Bhamo, Mohnyin and Putao.

The headwaters of the Tanai are at about 25°30′N97°0′E / 25.500°N 97.000°E / 25.500; 97.000 on the Shwedaunggyi peak of the Kumon range, 12 miles north of Mogaung. It flows due north for the first part until it reaches the Hukawng Valley. In 2004, the government established the world's largest tiger preserve in the Hukawng Valley, the Hukawng Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, with an area of approximately 2,500 square miles (6,500 km2); later, the Sanctuary was extended to 21,800 km2, making it the largest protected area in mainland Southeast Asia. The river then turns to the west and flows through the middle of the plain, [2] joined by the Tabye, the Tawan, and the Taron rivers from the right bank. These rivers drain the mountain ranges to the north and northeast of the Hukawng valley.

Mogaung Town in Kachin State, Myanmar

Mogaung is a town in Kachin State, Myanmar. It is situated on the Mandalay-Myitkyina railway line.

Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve

Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve is a wildlife reserve located in Hukawng Valley, near Tanai in Myitkyina District of Kachin State, Burma (Myanmar). Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve covers 21890 km². The Burmese government has also designated 6500 km² of the valley as the protected forest reserve. It is the world's largest tiger reserve.


The Tanai exits the Hukawng valley through the Taron or Turong valley and through a sharp defile in the river. It then takes on the name of Chindwin, and maintains a general southerly course. [2] It passes the town of Singkaling Hkamti on the left bank, then the town of Homalin, also on the left bank.

Defile (geography) A narrow pass or gorge between mountains or hills

In geography, a defile is a narrow pass or gorge between mountains or hills. It has its origins as a military description of a pass through which troops can march only in a narrow column or with a narrow front. On emerging from a defile into open country, soldiers are said to "debouch".

Hkamti Township Township in Sagaing Region, Burma

Hkamti Township or Khamti Township is a township in Hkamti District in the Sagaing Region of Burma, The principal town is Hkamti.

Homalin Town in Sagaing Region, Myanmar

Homalin or Hommalinn is a small town in north-western Burma and capital of the Homalin Township in Hkamti District of the Sagaing Region. The town lies on the Chindwin River and is served by Homalin Airport.

The river's course is generally southwesterly until the town of Mingin. It then takes a more southeasterly course entering into broad central plain, passing the city of Monywa on the left bank. Its course at this point forms the boundary between the Sagaing District of Sagaing Region and the Pakokku District of Magway Region.

Mingin, Burma Town in Sagaing Region, Burma

Mingin is a town on the southern side of the Chindwin River in Kale District, Sagaing Division, Myanmar. It is the administrative center for Mingin Township.

Monywa City in Sagaing Region, Myanmar

Monywa is a capital city and largest city in Sagaing Region, Myanmar, located 136 km north-west of Mandalay on the eastern bank of the River Chindwin.

Sagaing District District in Sagaing Region, Burma

Sagaing District is an administrative district in southern Sagaing Division, Burma (Myanmar). Its administrative center is the city of Sagaing.

It enters the Ayeyarwady River (Irrawaddy) at about 21°30′N95°15′E / 21.500°N 95.250°E / 21.500; 95.250 . The extreme outlets into the Ayeyarwady are about 22 miles apart, the interval forming a succession of long, low, partially populated islands. The lowest mouth of the Chindwin is, according to tradition, an artificial channel, cut by one of the kings of Bagan (Pagan). It was choked up for centuries until 1824 when it was opened out by an exceptional flood. [3] Satellite pictures show this lowest channel to be the widest one today. [4]

River delta Silt deposition landform at the mouth of a river

A river delta is a landform created by deposition of sediment that is carried by a river as the flow leaves its mouth and enters slower-moving or stagnant water. This occurs where a river enters an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, or another river that cannot carry away the supplied sediment. The size and shape of a delta is controlled by the balance between watershed processes that supply sediment, and receiving basin processes that redistribute, sequester, and export that sediment. The size, geometry, and location of the receiving basin also plays an important role in delta evolution. River deltas are important in human civilization, as they are major agricultural production centers and population centers. They can provide coastline defense and can impact drinking water supply. They are also ecologically important, with different species' assemblages depending on their landscape position.

Bagan Place in Mandalay Region, Myanmar

Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom's height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.


  1. Uyu River is the largest tributary joining the Chindwin river just below Homalin on the left. The famous jade mines at Hpakant lie in the headwaters of the Uyu. [5] [6]
  2. Myittha River, draining the Kale valley, joins on the right further downstream. The town of Kalewa is on the left bank of their confluence.


River Chindwin at Monywa R Chindwin.JPG
River Chindwin at Monywa
1980: River Chindwin 30 km NE of Monywa (with Twin Taung crater lake) Aerial view of lower Chindwin River and Twin Taung (1980).JPG
1980: River Chindwin 30 km NE of Monywa (with Twin Taung crater lake)
  1. Hkamti
  2. Htamanthi
  3. Homalin
  4. Mawlaik
  5. Kalewa
  6. Kalaymyo
  7. Mingin
  8. Monywa [7]


Much of Chindwin's course lies within mountain ranges and forests. Due to the difficulty of access, much of it remains unspoilt. The government of Burma recently created a very large (2,500 square mile) sanctuary for the endangered tiger within the Hukawng Valley. [8]


The mountain ranges to the west of the Chindwin are formidable, yet not totally impregnable to armies. The Kabaw valley saw many an invasion by the kingdom of Manipur to the west, most notably during the reign of King Garibaniwaj (1709–1748) when his army crossed over the Chindwin and the Mu, took Myedu, and reached as far as Sagaing opposite the capital Ava. The tables were turned in 1758 after King Alaungpaya ascended the Burmese throne. [9] The Burmese army invaded and occupied Manipur and Assam marching across the western mountain ranges, and even encroached upon British India.

During World War II, when the Japanese had cut off sea access, the British army and other allied forces under General Joseph Stilwell retreated on foot to India across the same mountains, with disastrous results, mainly due to disease and hunger. The Ledo Road was built across the Hukawng valley to supply China. [10] The Chindwin was a major barrier both for the Japanese trying to invade India and for the Allied forces to reoccupy Burma. [11]

Ethnography and culture

The chindwin river has a great impact on the culture of western Burma.


The Chindwin is served by regular river-going vessels up to the town of Homalin. Teak forests within its drainage area have been a valuable resource since ancient times. The Hukawng Valley is known for its abundance of Burmese amber. Along the river, there are deposits of jade, but Hpakant in the headwaters of the Uyu river is the only place in the world where the finest jade - known as jadeite or imperial jade - is found, along with an abundance of fish. [5] [6]


  2. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chindwin"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 232.
  3. "Chindwin River". Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  4. "Earth from Space". NASA , November 1998. Archived from the original on 2007-08-02. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  5. 1 2 "Hpakan Other Rock Mine(Myanmar)". Retrieved 2008-12-27.
  6. 1 2 Richard W. Hughes; Fred Ward. "Heaven and Hell: The Quest for Jade in Upper Burma". Retrieved 2008-12-27.
  7. "Map of Sagaing Division". Asterism. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
  8. "Rationale for a National Tiger Action Plan for Myanmar" (PDF). Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-26. Retrieved 2008-12-27.
  9. Phanjoubam Tarapot (2003). Bleeding Manipur. Har-Anand Publications. pp. 112–3. ISBN   978-81-241-0902-1 . Retrieved 2008-11-19.
  10. Baruah, Sri Surendra. "The Stillwell Road A Historical Review". Tinsukia. Archived from the original on 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
  11. "Chindwin River". The Pacific War Online Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 2008-10-07.


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