The Chindwin River (Chindwin Myit) is a river in Burma (Myanmar) and the largest tributary of the Ayeyarwady River. It flows entirely within Burma and is known as Ning-thi to the Manipuris.
The Chindwin river originates in the broad Hukawng Valley
of Kachin State
of Burma, roughly , where the Tanai, the Tabye, the Tawan, and the Taron (also known as Turong or Towang) rivers meet.
The headwaters of the Tanai are at about 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, when it turns to the west and flows through the middle of the plain
, joined by the Tabye, the Tawan, and the Taron from the right bank. These rivers drain the ranges to the north and northeast of the Hukawng valley.
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. It passes the town of Singkaling Hkamti
on the left bank, then the town of Homalin
, also on the left bank.
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 and Pakokku districts.
It enters the Ayeyarwady River (Irrawaddy) at about . 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. Satellite pictures show this lowest channel to be the widest one today.
- Uyu River is the largest tributary joining the Chindwin river just below Homalin on the left. The famous jade mines of Burma lie in the headwaters of Uyu river.
- Yu River, which drains the Kabaw valley, is next to enter the Chindwin on the right.
- Myittha River, draining the Kale valley, joins on the right further downstream. The town of Kalewa is on the left bank of their confluence.
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
Ethnography and culture
The Chindwin is served by regular river-going vessels up to the town of Homalin. Teak
forests within the 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 the best jade is in the headwaters of the Uyu river.
The mountain ranges to the west of the Chindwin are formidable, yet not totally impregnable to armies. The Burmese army in the 18th century invaded and occupied Manipur
marching across these 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. The Chindwin was a major barrier both for the Japanese trying to invade India and for the Allied forces to reoccupy Burma.
- J. G. Scott, Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States. 5 vols. Rangoon, 1900-1901