Indian Rivers The drainage system of India

Indian Rivers the drainage system of India. The role of rivers in India plays a major role in the lives of people. Indian Rivers is the drainage system of India. A drainage system is an integrated system of tributaries and a trunk stream that collects and drains surface water into the sea.

The total area drained by a river and its tributaries is known as a drainage basin. The drainage pattern of an area is the result of the geological structure of the respective areas.

The river system provides irrigation, drinking water, navigation, power as well as grant livelihoods for a large number of populations. The drainage system of India is broadly divided into two major groups on the basis of their location:

  • The Himalayan rivers
  • The Peninsular rivers

Himalayan Rivers

  • Indus
  • Ganga
  • Brahmaputra

Peninsular Rivers

  • Mahanadi
  • Godavari
  • Krishna
  • Cauvery
  • Narmada
  • Tapti

Himalayan Rivers

Himalayan rivers are found in north India. These are originating from Himalayas. Himalayan rivers are perennial rivers.

The Indus River

The Indus River is one of the largest rivers of the world. It originates from the northern slope of the Kailash range in Tibet near Mana Sarovar Lake.

Its length is about 2,880 km. But in India its length Only 709 km. The river has a total drainage area extending 11,65,500 sq. km in which 321,289 sq. km areas are drained in India.

The Indus river flows through the Ladakh and Zaskar ranges and creates deep gorges. The river runs through Jammu and Kashmir, turns south near Chillar and enters Pakistan.

Its major tributaries are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. It enters into with the Arabian Sea. Chenab is the largest tributary of Indus.

The Ganga River

The Ganga River system is the largest drainage system of India. it extends over and area of 8,61,404 sq km in India.

The Ganga plain is the most densely populated place in India and many towns are developed on the banks of this river.

The river Ganga originates as Bhagirathi from the Gangotri Glacier in Uttar Khasi District of Uttarakhand state. The length of the river Ganga is about 2,525 km.

Its major tributaries from the north are Gomti, Gandak, Kosi and Ghaghra and from south, Yamuna, Son, Chambal etc. Yamuna is the largest tributary of Ganga.

In Bangladesh, The river Ganga is known as the River Padma.

The combined river of Ganga and Brahmaputra creates the World’s largest delta known as Sundarbans.

The Brahmaputra River

The river Brahmaputra originates from the Chemayungdung Glacier of the Kailash range to the east of Lake Mana Sarovar in Tibet at an.

The total area of Brahmaputra is about 5,80,000 sq km. The drainage area lying in India is 1,94,413 sq. km This river is known as Tsangpo (Purifier) in Tibet.

The length of this river is about 2,900 km. In India its length is about 900 km. It enters into India through a gorge in Arunachal Pradesh which name is Dihang. It has many tributaries namely Tista, Manas, Barak, Subansiri.

This river is called as Jamuna in Bangladesh. After it joins with the river Ganga in Bangladesh, the river is called as Meghna.

Peninsular Rivers

The rivers in south India are called the Peninsular rivers. Most of these rivers originate from the Western Ghats.

These are seasonal rivers. These are non–perennial rivers. They have a large seasonal fluctuation in volume of water as they are solely fed by rain.

These rivers flow in valleys with steep gradients. Based on the direction of flow, the peninsular rivers are divided into:

  • The East flowing rivers
  • The West flowing

East Flowing Rivers

Rivers which are flowing to East.


The river Mahanadi originates near Sihawa in Raipur district of Chattisgarh. It flows through Odisha. Its length is 851 km. Seonath, Telen, Sandur and Ib are its major tributaries.

The main stream of Mahanadi gets divided into several distributaries such as Paika, Birupa, Chitartala, Genguti and Nun. All these distributaries form the Delta of Mahanadi which is one of the largest deltas in India. The Mahanadi empties its water in Bay of Bengal.


Godavari is the longest river in the Peninsular rivers. Its length is about 1,465km with an area of 3.13 lakh km. It is also called Vridha Ganga.

It originates in Nasik district of Maharashtra, a portion of Western Ghats. It flows through the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh before joining Bay of Bengal.

Purna, Penganga, Pranitha, Indravati, Tal and Salami are its major tributaries.

The river near Rajahmundry gets divided into two Channels called Vasistha and Gautami and forms one of the largest deltas in India. Kolleru, a fresh water lake is located in the deltaic region of the Godavari.


The river Krishna originates from a spring at a place called Mahabaleshwar in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra. Its length is 1,400 km and an area of 2.58 lakh sq km.

The river Krishna is the second longest Peninsular river.

Bhima, Peddavagu, Musi, Koyna and Thungabhadra are the major tributaries of this river. It flows through Andhra Pradesh and joins in Bay of Bengal, at Hamasaladeevi.


The river Kaveri originates at Talakaveri, Kudagu hills of Karnataka. Its length is 800 km.

The river kaveri is called Dhakshin Ganga or Ganga of south.

Harangi, Hemavati, Kabini, Bhavani, Arkavathy, Noyyal, Amaravathi etc are the main tributaries of the river Kaveri.

In Karnataka the river bifurcates twice, forming the sacred islands of Srirangapatnam and Sivasamudram. While entering Tamil Nadu, the Kaveri continues through a series of twisted wild gorges until it reaches Hogenakkal Falls and flows through a straight, narrow gorge near Salem.

The Kaveri breaks at Srirangam Island with two channels, river Coleroon and Kaveri. It empties into the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar.

West Flowing Rivers

Rivers which are flowing to West.


This river rises in Amarkantak Plateau in Madhya Pradesh. Its length is about 1,312 km. it covers for the area of 98,796 sq km and forms 27 km long estuary before outfalling into th Arabian Sea through the Gulf of Cambay.

It is the largest among the west flowing rivers of Peninsular India. The name of its tributaries are Burhner, Halon, Heran, Banjar, Dudhi, Shakkar, Tawa, Barna and Kolar.


The Tapti is one of the major rivers of Peninsular India. Its length of about 724 km. It covers an area of 65,145 sq km.

Tapti river rises near Multai in the Betul district of Madhya Pradesh. The major tributaries are Vaki, Gomai, Arunavati, Aner, Nesu, Buray, Panjhra and Bori. It outfalls into the Arabian Sea through the Gulf of Cambay.

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