Under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960, the waters of the Ravi and five other rivers are divided between India and Pakistan. Subsequently, the Indus Basin Project has been developed in Pakistan and many inter-basin water transfers, irrigation, hydropower and multipurpose projects have been built in India.
According to ancient history traced to Vedas, the Ravi River was known as Iravati (also spelt Eeraveti; Sanskrit: इरावती, परुष्णि) The Ravi was known as Parushani or Iravati to Indians in Vedic times and as Hydraotes to the Ancient Greeks.
The Ravi River, a transboundary river of India and Pakistan, is an integral part of the Indus River Basin and forms the headwaters of the Indus basin. The waters of the Ravi River drain into the Arabian Sea (Indian Ocean) through the Indus River in Pakistan. The river rises in the Bara Bhangal, District Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, India. The river drains a total catchment area of 14,442 square kilometres (5,576 sq mi) in India after flowing for a length of 720 kilometres (450 mi). Flowing westward, it is hemmed by the Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges, forming a triangular zone.
The Ravi River originates in the Himalayas in the Multhan tehsil of Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. It follows a north-westerly course and is a perennial river. It is the smallest of the five Punjab rivers that rises from glacier fields at an elevation of 14,000 feet (4,300 m), on the southern side of the Mid Himalayas. It flows through Barabhangal, Bara Bansu and Chamba districts. It flows in rapids in its initial reaches with boulders seen scattered in the bed of the river. The Ravi River in this reach flows in a gorge with a river bed slope of 183 feet per mile (34.7 m/km) and is mostly fed by snow melt, as this region lies in a rain shadow. Two of its major tributaries, the Budhil and Nai or Dhona join 64 kilometres (40 mi) downstream from its source. The Budhil River rises in Lahul range of hills and is sourced from the Manimahesh Kailash Peak and the Manimahesh Lake, at an elevation of 4,080 metres (13,390 ft), and both are Hindu pilgrimage sites. The entire length of Budhil is 72 kilometres (45 mi) where it has a bed slope of 314 feet per mile (59.5 m/km). It flows through the ancient capital of Bharmwar, now known as Bharmour in Himachal Pradesh. During 1858–1860, the Raja of Bharmour had considered the Budhil valley as an excellent source of Deodar trees for supply to the British Raj. However, a part of the forest surrounding the temple was considered sacred and declared a reserved area. The second tributary, the Nai, rises at Kali Debi pass, and flows for 48 kilometres (30 mi), with a bed slope of 366 feet per mile (69.3 m/km), from its source at Trilokinath to its confluence with the Ravi. This valley was also exploited for its forest wealth during the English period.