List of Major Rivers of India – River System, Map, Names, Longest Rivers

List of Major Rivers of India – River System, Map, Names, Longest Rivers

The rivers present in India play a very vital and important role in the economy and society of India. The river system of India provides potable water, irrigation, transportation, and electricity as well as livelihood for Indians. This explains why, most of the important cities since ancient times are situated on the banks of rivers.

Rivers of India

Rivers of India

The seven most important rivers of India, which include Indus, Brahmaputra, Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Krishna, and Mahanadi; along with many of its tributaries account for the river system of India. The drainage of the rivers happens either into the Bay of Bengal or through the western part of the country and also towards the east of the state of Himachal Pradesh towards the Arabian Sea. The major drainage of India originates from either of the following:

  1. The Himalaya and the Karakoram Ranges
  2. Vindhya and Satpura Ranges and Chotanagpur plateau in Central India
  3. Sahyadri or Western Ghats in Western India

Map With Rivers of India

Rivers of India

Rivers of India

List of Rivers of India

Given below is the list of rivers of India along with states:

Sr. No.RiversLengthOriginEnd
1.Indus3,180 km

Tibetan Plateau and enters India through

Jammu and Kashmir

Merges to the Arabian Sea near Sindh
2.Brahmaputra2,900 kmFrom Tibet, it enters India through Arunachal PradeshMerges to Ganga and Bay of Bengal at the end.
3.Ganga2,510 kmUttarakhand’s Gangotri Glacier(Bhaigirath)Bay of Bengal
4.Godavari1,465 kmStarts in Maharashtra and travels 7 statesEnds in the Bay of Bengal
5.Narmada1,312 kmBeginning of Amarkantak, Madhya PradeshAlong the Gulf of Cambay, drains to the Arabian Sea
6.Krishna1,400 kmBegins in the Western Ghats of MaharashtraBay of Bengal near Andhra Pradesh
7.Mahanadi900 kmOriginates in Dhamtri, ChhattisgarhEnds in the Bay of Bengal in Odisha
8.Kaveri805 kmTalakaveri in the Karnataka in Western Ghats.Ends in the Bay of Bengal.

Rivers of India: Himalayan Rivers

The main rivers of the Himalayan river system include The Ganga, Indus, and Brahmaputra rivers systems. They have huge basins and the Himalayas are traversed by several rivers. During the time of uplifting of the Himalayas, the down-cutting of the river created deep valleys by sheer rock sides and carry massive loads of sand and silt; while engaging in erosional activities. Due to the physical processes, larger meanders and many depositional structures are formed which include flood plains, river cliffs, and levees. 

All the Himalayan Rivers are continuously flowing throughout the year because the main source of water for these rivers is melting snow and glaciers. During the monsoon months, the Himalayas receive very heavy rainfall and for that reason, the swelling of the rivers contains more water than normal which is the main cause of frequent floods in India. 

19 major rivers drained from the Himalayas, among them the Indus and the Brahmaputra are the largest. Five catchments of the Indus system named the Jhelum, the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, and the Sutlej have an area of about 132,000 square km, collectively spread in the Punjab state in India and Punjab province in Pakistan.

Himalayan Rivers
Sr. No.Names
1.The Indus River
2.The Ganga River
3.The Brahmaputra River

Rivers of India: The Indus River

The Indus river has its starting point on the northern Kailash range in Tibet, which is close to Lake Manasarovar. Through Tibet, it flows in the north-western direction. In Jammu and Kashmir, it enters the boundary of India and creates a very attractive gorge. In the Kashmir region, it is joined by rivers like Zaskar, Hunza, Nubra, and Shyok. The important tributaries of the Indus river include Jhelum, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, and Chenab.

Tributaries of the Indus River

  1. Jhelum: Jhelum originates in the southeastern part of Kashmir, in a spring at Verinag. It flows through Wular Lake and then Baramula. It follows the Indo- Pakistan border flowing into the plains of Punjab, flowing to Chenab at Trimmu.
  2. Chenab: Chenab originates at the confluence of two rivers, the Chandra and the Bhaga. It enters the plains of Punjab near Akhnur and is later joined by the Jhelum.
  3. Ravi: Ravi originates near Rohtang pass and runs past Kangra Himalayas and follows a north-western direction. It flows through the Indo-Pakistan border for some distance and enters Pakistan and joins the Chenab river.
  4. Beas: Beas originates in Beas Kund, lying near Rohtang pass, and runs past Manali and Kulu. It joins the Sutlej river near Harika.
  5. Sutlej: The Sutlej originates from Rakas Lake and is connected to the Mansarovar lake by a stream, in Tibet. It turns west below Rupar and is later joined by Beas.
Tributaries of the Indus River
Sr. NoName of RiversLength 
1.Jhelum725 km
2.Chenab960 km
3.Ravi720 km
4. Beas470 km
5. Sutlej1500 km

Rivers of India: The Ganga River

The Ganga River originates from the base of the Himalayan glacier known as Gangotri. The upstream of the Ganga river i.e. Bhagirathi joins the other stream named Alaknanda at Devprayag and forms the River Ganga. The right bank tributaries of the Ganga river are the Yamuna, Son, Damodar, and Punpun and the left bank tributaries are Gandak, Kosi, Gomti, and Ghaghara.

After flows through the Indian states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and the Ganges then skirts the Rajmahal Hills to the south and flows southeast, and then enters into Farakka, West Bengal state. Finally, the Ganga flows eastwards from here, the river bifurcates, one of the main branches of the Ganges after entering Bangladesh known as the Padma. Another part of the Ganga which remains in the part of India and finally after covering a 2,519 km long distance merges with the Bay of Bengal, known as the Hooghly river, and passes through some famous cities of West Bengal i.e., Murshidabad, Kolkata, Howrah, etc and the length of the Ganga is over 2510 km.

Tributaries of Ganga River
Sr. No.NameLength
1.Yamuna1,376 km
2.Chambal1,024 km
3.Gandak814 km
4.Ghaghara1,080 km
5.Kosi729 km

Rivers of India: The Brahmaputra River System

The Brahmaputra river origin from the east side of Tibet of the Manasarovar Lake region, north of the Kailash ranges of the Himalayas having an elevation of 5,150m. The majority of its course lies outside India, however, it is still significantly longer than Indus. According to its length, it is the second-largest river in the world after the Amazon river. 

The Brahmaputra course flows a distance of 2,900 km through four countries named Tibet, Bhutan, India, and Bangladesh before entering the Bay of Bengal. This river flows eastwards parallel to the Himalayas and it enters India in Arunachal Pradesh through a gorge. It is joined by the Dibang, the Lohit, and many other tributary rivers in Assam, and for that reason, the Brahmaputra forms huge deposits of silt on its bed, and this is the main cause of the river bed rise. Several tributaries join the Brahmaputra river as it runs through Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in India.

Tributaries of Brahmaputra River
Sr. No,NamesLength
1.Lohit450 km
2.Dibang195 km
3.Subansiri442 km
4.Manas400 km
5.Dhansiri352 km

Peninsular Rivers of India

The Peninsular rivers of India include Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Kaveri, and Mahanadi. The Peninsular rivers mostly traverse through narrow valleys and as their flow depends on rainfall, most of these rivers are seasonal. Due to the soft slope, the erosional activities are relatively less in intensity and there is not much meandering because of the firm granite and bed and lack of sand and silt. Due to the absence of meanders, rivers are mostly straight and horizontal courses and have much scope for hydroelectric electricity by the peninsular rivers.

Peninsular Rivers of India
Sr. No.Names
1.Godavari River
2.Narmada River
3.Krishna River
4.Mahanadi River
5.Kaveri River
6.Tapi River

Godavari River

Godavari is also called the Dakshin Ganga due to its largest length among the Peninsular rivers. The origin of the river is from the Nasik district of Maharashtra and discharges its water into the Bay of Bengal. Its tributaries run through the several states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh.

The principal tributaries of these rivers are Penganga, the Indravati, the Pranhita, and the Manjra. Due to the formation of the picturesque gorge in the lower belt, Godavari is responsible for heavy floods. Finally, after Rajamundri, it splits into several branches and forms a large delta.

Narmada River

The Narmada or Nebudda is the 5th longest river in India and is known for being the largest west-flowing river. Narmada river originated from the Amarkantak Plateau in the Anuppur district of Madhya Pradesh. It flows from east to west over a length of 1,312 km before draining through the Gulf of Khambhat into the Arabian Sea, and it forms the traditional boundary between North India and South India and flows mainly through Central India. Narmada River has 41 tributaries. 

Of these, some major tributaries of the Narmada river are Kolar, Uri, Hiran, Dudhi, Tawa, Sher, etc. Sardar Sarovar Dam, Indira Sagar Dam, and Kolar Dam are the three major dams constructed on the Narmada River.

Krishna River

It is the 4th longest river in India, after Ganga, Godavari, and Brahmaputra. Among those east-flowing Peninsular Rivers, it is the 2nd largest river that rises near Mahabaleshwar in Sahyadri of Maharashtra. The river is almost 1,400 kilometers long and it flows through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh to finally pour into the Bay of Bengal. 

Koyna Irrigation Project and The Warna Major Irrigation Project are the two major projects constructed on the Narmada River. The Koyna, the Tungabhadra, the Ghataprabha, Malaprabha, Musi, and the Bhima are its major tributaries and the largest tributary of the Krishna River is the Tungabhadra River. 

Mahanadi River

This is an important river of Odisha and it is a major river among the rivers of East-central India, after rising near Sihawa in the Raipur district of Chhattisgarh. Firstly, it flows towards the northern and then turns towards the East direction, in this way it runs through Orissa before discharging its water into the Bay of Bengal. The length of the river is 900 km.

Hirakud Dam Project, Ravishankar Sagar Project, and The Dudhawa Reservoir Project are the three major projects constructed on the Mahananda River. Its estimated drainage area of 1.42 lakh sq. km. and some navigation is also carried on in the lower course of the river. 48 percent of the drainage basin of this river lies in Orissa while resting in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It flows through the cities of Sambalpur, Cuttack, and Banki.

Kaveri River

Kaveri or Cauvery is a major river in Southern India and originates from Talakaveri in the Brahmagiri range in the Western Ghats. The length of the Kaveri river is 805 km. It is also known as the Ganges of the South, it is one of the holiest rivers in South India. The catchment area of the Kaveri basin is estimated to be 81,155 square kilometers and it has many tributaries such as Hemavati, Moyari, Shimsha, Arkavati, Honnuhole, Kabini, Bhavani, Noyyal, and Amaravati. 

It flows about 800 km across Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, and Pudducherry and it flows southeast to enter the Bay of Bengal. Krishna Raja Sagar Dam is one of the major multipurpose projects on Cauvery in Karnataka State For centuries, it has supported irrigated agriculture and served as the lifeblood of the ancient kingdoms and most of the modern cities of South India.

Tapi River

The Tapti or Tapi river is located in central India and the total basin area of this river is 65,145 The river originates from the East Satpura Mountain Ranges, in south Madhya Pradesh, and flows around 724km through the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh and at the last, it is draining into the Arabian Sea via the Gulf of Khambhat, close to the Surat City in Gujarat. Some famous tributaries of Tapti are Bori, Girna, Waghur, Purna, Mona, Vaki, Gomai, etc. The Ukai Project and The Kakrapar Project are the two major projects constructed on the Tapti River.

Rivers of India Names and States

Sr. No.StateRivers
1.Madhya PradeshTapi, Betwa, Wainganga, Narmada, Beehar, Chambal
2.MaharashtraKrishna, Tapi, Godavari, and Panchganga
3.Tamil NaduCauvery, Adyar, Cooum, Tambarani, and Vennar
4.KarnatakaBhadra, Tunga, Pennar and Tungabhadra
5.JharkhandGanga, Subarnarekha and Damodar
6.West BengalDamodar, Ganga and Mahanadi
7.Uttar PradeshGanga,Yamuna and Gomti
8.OrissaMahanadi and Brahmini

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