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Statewise Major Rivers

No State *
1 Andhra Pradesh More details
2 Arunachal Pradesh More details
3 Assam More details
4 Bihar More details
5 Chhattisgarh More details
6 Goa More details
7 Gujarat More details
8 Haryana More details
9 Himachal Pradesh More details
10 Jammu and Kashmir More details
11 Jharkhand More details
12 Karnataka More details
13 Kerala More details
14 Madhya Pradesh More details
15 Maharashtra More details
16 Manipur More details
17 Meghalaya More details
18 Mizoram More details
19 Nagaland More details
20 Odisha More details
21 Punjab More details
22 Rajasthan More details
23 Sikkim More details
24 Tamil Nadu More details
25 Tripura More details
26 Uttar Pradesh More details
27 Uttarakhand More details
28 West Bengal More details
29 Telangana More details
Union Territories
1 Andaman and Nicobar Islands More details
2 Chandigarh More details
3 Dadra and Nagar Haveli More details
4 Daman and Diu More details
5 Lakshadweep More details
6 Delhi More details
7 Puducherry More details

India is a land of many rivers. Its geographical area is intersected by a large number of big and small rivers. Rivers are our lifeline. It may not be an exaggeration to say that the rivers are the heart and soul of Indian life.

Indian River Systems

The river systems of India can be classified into four groups viz.

The Himalayan rivers are perennial as they are fed by melting glaciers every summer. During the monsoon, these rivers assume alarming proportions. Swollen with rainwater,they often inundate villages and towns in their path. The Gangetic basin is the largest river system in India, draining almost a quarter of the country. The rivers of the Indian peninsular plateau are mainly fed by rain. During summer, their flow is greatly reduced, and some of the tributaries even dry up, only to be revived in the monsoon.The Godavari basin in the peninsula is the largest in the country, spanning an area of almost one-tenth of the country. The rivers Narmada (India’s holiest river) and Tapti flow almost parallel to each other but empty themselves in opposite directions. The two rivers make the valley rich in alluvial soil and teak forests cover much of the land. While coastal rivers gush down the peaks of the Western Ghats into the Arabian Sea in torrents during the rains, their flow slow down after the monsoon.Streams like the Sambhar in western Rajasthan are mainly seasonal in character, draining into the inland basins and salt lakes. In the Rann of Kutch, the only river that flows through the salt desert is the Luni. The major river systems and Independent river of India are discussed in below link.

Indus River System

Indus River, Tibetan and Sanskrit Sindhu, Sindhi Sindhu, or Mehran, great trans-Himalayan river of South Asia. It is one of the longest rivers in the world, with a length of some 1,800 miles (2,900 km). Its total drainage area is about 450,000 square miles (1,165,000 square km), of which 175,000 square miles (453,000 square km) lie in the Himalayan ranges and foothills and the rest in the semiarid plains of Pakistan.

The Indus originates in the northern slopes of the Kailash range in Tibet near Lake Manasarovar. It follows a north-westerly course through Tibet. It enters Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir. It forms a picturesque gorge in this part. Several tributaries - the Zaskar, the Shyok, the Nubra and the Hunza join it in the Kashmir region. It flows through the regions of Ladakh, Baltistan and Gilgit and runs between the Ladakh Range and the Zaskar Range. It crosses the Himalayas through a 5181 m deep gorge near Attock, lying north of the Nanga Parbat and later takes a bend to the south west direction before entering Pakistan. It has a large number of tributaries in both India and Pakistan and has a total length of about 2880 km from the source to the point near Karachi where it falls into the Arabian Sea. The main tributaries of the Indus in India are Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Satluj.

The principal rivers of the Indus River system are snow-fed. Their flow varies greatly at different times of the year: the discharge is at a minimum during the winter months (December to February); there is a rise of water in spring and early summer (March to June); and floods occur in the rainy season (July to September). Occasionally there are devastating flash floods. The Indus and its tributaries receive all their waters in the hilly upper parts of their catchments. Therefore, their flow is at a maximum where they emerge out of the foothills, and little surface flow is added in the plains, where evaporation and seepage considerably reduce the flow volume. On the other hand, some water is added by seepage in the period after the monsoon months. In the main stream of the Indus, the water level is at its lowest from mid-December to mid-February. After this the river starts rising, slowly at first and then more rapidly at the end of March. The high-water level usually occurs between mid-July and mid-August. The river then falls rapidly until the beginning of October, when the water level subsides more gradually.

Brief description of some of the important tributaries of Indus River other then Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi,Beas and Satluj is given below. :

Shyok river

The Shyok river draining the northern Karakoram mountains in the Lingzi Thang area, is joined by Chang Chenmo and Galewan nallas in the upper catchment. Further down it is joined by a major tributary, the Nubra river from the north opposite Diskit village, and the combined course of the two river enters the Pak occupied Kashmir below Boagdoong. Catchment area of Shyok is 19540 sq kms.

Zanskar river

Zanskar river is formed by two major tributaries in Zanskar valley called Stot and Lugnek river. The former originates from Pansi pass and glaciers on Southern range of mountains at high altitudes about 4500 M. Umasi-la glacier 5234 M is the main glacier contributing to it in lower reach near Tungri. The Lugnek river drains the catchment adjacent to Himachal Pradesh in the East. Both tributaries join at Padam (Zanaskar Tehsil) to constitute Zanaskar river which joins Indus at Nimu.


Suru river

Suru river originates from glaciers on south of Pansi pass and flow north till Ringdom from where it takes a bearing towards west and passes through Parkhachik, Kargil and flow down to meet Indus at Marol (in Pak occupied Kashmir). The Drass is an important tributary of Suru which joins on the left bank below Kargil.

A typical feature of Ladakh region is that a number of lakes exist here which serve as inland drainage receiver in some of the areas. A few prominent lakes are described here in brief:

a) Pangong Lake

The lake is partly in China and partly in India. Water of this lake is highly brackish and runs in the form of a narrow stream with about 128 km. Length and 5 km width. It is situate east-west of Chushul at RL 4714 M.


b) Spanggur Tso

Spanggur Tso is also known as bitter lake with a length of 24 km. and width of 2.5km. The lake is situated adjacent to the international border with China and 6 kms. south of Pangong lake. The water of the leak is extremely bitter.

c) Tso Morari Lake

Known as mountain lake also. It is 24 km in length with a width of 6 kms. Its water is brackish and is situated at RL 5000m surrounded by mountains ranging from 700 mts. To 1700 mts in Rupshu area.

d) Tsokar Lake

It is one of the beautiful lakes of world known as white lake and is situated at RL 5228 m in almost north of Tsomorari. Its length and with are 6.9 km and 3.7 km respectively. Its water is bitter and brackish. It is irregular in shape and contains high content of sub-carbonates of Soda.

Brahmaputra River System

The river Brahmaputra covers a catchment area of about 5,80,000 Sq.km. right from its origin in Himalayan Lake Manasarover at an elevation of about 5,150 m in Tibet to the outfall in the Bay of Bengal. It flows eastward in Tibet and south, south-west in India and traverses a distance of about 2900 km out of which 1,700km is in Tibet, 900 km is in India and 300 km is in Bangladesh. In the upper reaches, the river is fed by the glaciers and in the lower reaches, it is joined by a number of tributaries which originates at different elevation in the hills encircling the catchment forming watershed. Among the tributaries Subansiri, Manas, Jiabharali, Pagladiya, Puthimari and Sankosh etc are snow fed. The break up of catchment area in India is as follows:

State Area
ASSAM (Excluding Barak valley) 70,634 Sq.Km.
NAGALAND 10,803 Sq.Km.
MEGHALAYA 11,667 Sq.Km.
Total 1,94,413 Sq.Km.

The Tibetan name of river is "TSANGPO" and Chinese name is "YALUZANGBU". The watershed area is mostly on the northern side of the river in this region. After traversing a distance of about 1700 km eastwardly, the river changes its course from east to south and then enters the Arunachal Pradesh in Indian territory. Its name also changes from "TSANGPO" to Siang and Dehang in Arunachal Pradesh . The river then flows almost in Southern direction for another distance of about 200 km upto Passighat. Before touching plains it is joined by two major Himalayan tributaries viz. Lohit and Debang. The combined flow of these rivers is known as the Brahmaputra and passes through the plains of Assam and Bangladesh before falling into the Bay of Bengal. From Passighat to Dhubri where it travels in plains of Assam is well known as Brahmaputra valley.

The river Brahmaputra receives a number of tributaries at its north and south banks, in the catchment area in India. The major tributaries are as follow

Tributaries from North bank Tributaries from South bank
The Jiadhal The Noa Dehing
The Subansiri The Buridehing
The Siang The Debang
The Kameng (Jiabharali in Assam) The Dikhow
The Dhansiri(North) The Dhansiri(S)
The Puthimari The Kopili
The Pagladiya The Digaru
The Manas The Dudhnai
The Champamati The Krishnai
The Saralbhanga
The Aie
The Sankosh

In addition, six tributaries namely the Tista, the Sankosh, the Raidak-I, the Raidak-II, the Torsa  and the  Jaldhaka flowing through the northern West  Bengal also join the main stream of Brahmaputra  but, in the  plains  of  Bangladesh. The North bank  tributaries are flashy and have steep slopes, shallow braided channels, coarse sandy beds, carry a heavy silt charge. The South bank tributaries have flatter grades, deep meandering channels, fine alluvial soils and comparatively  low silt charge.

Ganga River System

The Ganga (Ganges) rises from the Gangotri Glacier in the Garhwal Himalayas at an elevation of some 4100 metres above the sea level under the name of Bhagirathi. This main stream of the river flows through the Himalayas till another two streams – the Mandakini and the Alaknanda – join it at Dev Prayag, the point of confluence. The combined stream is then known as the Ganga. After traversing a distance of 1450 km. in Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh, the river forms boundary between Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for length of about 110 km. The Ganga, then flows through a length of 445 km. in Bihar/Jharkhand and 520 km. in West Bengal before its outfall into Bay of Bengal. The river after traversing a distance of 2525 kms from its source meets the Bay of Bengal at Ganga Sagar in West Bengal. In Uttar Pradesh, the major tributaries of river Ganga are the Ramganga, the Yamuna, the Gomti, and the Tons. The river Ganga enters into state of Bihar near Buxar and leaves Jharkhand near Rajmahal. Its important tributaries in Bihar are the Ghaghra, the Gandak, the Burhi Gandak, the Kosi, the Sone, the Punpun and the Kiul. The Ganga drains a total catchment area of 10.631 lakh sq.km., out of which 8.61 lakh sq.km.lies in India. Thus Ganga basin covers 26 percent of geographical area of the country. The annual rainfall in the Ganga basin varies from 500 mm. to 2500 mm in the mountains and 400 mm to 1250 mm in the plains. Most of rainfall is concentrated during the months of June to September

Yamuna River System

The River Yamuna originates from the Yamunotri glacier, 6387m above mean sea level (msl), at the Banderpoonch peak in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. The catchment of the river extends to states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh,Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and the entire union territory of Delhi. The river flows 1211 km from here to its confluence with the River Ganga at Allahabad. The main tributaries joining the river include the Hindon, Chambal, Sind, Betwa and Ken.

Narmada River System

The Narmada or Nerbudda is a river in central India. It forms the traditional boundary between North India and South India, and is a total of 1,313 km (801 mi) long. Of the major rivers of peninsular India, only the Narmada, the Tapti and the Mahi run from east to west. It rises on the summit of Amarkantak Hill in Madhya Pradesh state, and for the first 320 kilometres (200 miles) of its course winds among the Mandla Hills, which form the head of the Satpura Range; then at Jabalpur, passing through the 'Marble Rocks', it enters the Narmada Valley between the Vindhya and Satpura ranges, and pursues a direct westerly course to the Gulf of Cambay. Its total length through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat amounts to 1312 kilometres (815 miles), and it empties into the Arabian Sea in the Bharuch district of Gujarat.

Tapi River System

The Tapi is a river of central India. It is one of the major rivers of peninsular India with the length of around 724 km; it runs from east to west. The Tapi River originates in the Betul district from a place called Multai. It is one of only three rivers in peninsular India that run from east to west - the others being the Narmada River and the Mahi River. The Tapi is the second largest westward draining inter-state river basin. It covers a large area in the State of Maharashtra besides areas in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Godavari River System

The river with second longest course within India, Godavari is often referred to as the Vriddh (Old) Ganga or the Dakshin (South) Ganga. The name may be apt in more ways than one, as the river follows the course of Ganga's tragedy. The river is about 1,465 km (900 miles) long. It rises at Trimbakeshwar, near Nasik and Mumbai (formerly Bombay) in Maharashtra around 380 km distance from the Arabian Sea, but flows southeast across south-central India through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, and empties into the Bay of Bengal. At Rajahmundry, 80 km from the coast, the river splits into two streams thus forming a very fertile delta. Some of its tributaries include Indravati River, Manjira, Bindusara and Sabari. Some important urban centers on its banks include Nasik, Bhadrachalam, Rajahmundry and Narsapur. The Asia's largest rail-cum-road bridge on the river Godavari linking Kovvur and Rajahmundry is considered to be an engineering feat.

Krishna River System

The Krishna is one of the longest rivers of India (about 1400 km in length). It originates at Mahabaleswar in Maharashtra, passes through Sangli and meets the sea in the Bay of Bengal at Hamasaladeevi in Andhra Pradesh. The Krishna River flows through the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The traditional source of the river is a spout from the mouth of a statue of a cow in the ancient temple of Mahadev in Mahabaleshwar. Its most important tributary is the Tungabhadra River, which itself is formed by the Tunga and Bhadra rivers that originate in the Western Ghats. Other tributaries include the Koyna, Bhima, Mallaprabha, Ghataprabha, Yerla, Warna, Dindi, Musi and Dudhganga rivers.

Cauvery River System

The Cauvery (also spelled Kavery) is one of the great rivers of India and is considered sacred by the Hindus. This river is also called Dakshin Ganga. The headwaters are in the Western Ghats range of Karnataka state, and flows from Karnataka through Tamil Nadu. It empties into the Bay of Bengal. Its waters have supported irrigated agriculture for centuries, and the Cauveri has been the lifeblood of the ancient kingdoms and modern cities of South India. The source of the river is Talakaveri located in the Western Ghats about 5,000 feet (1,500 m) above sea level. It flows generally south and east for around 800 km, emptying into the Bay of Bengal through two principal mouths. Its basin is estimated to be 27,700 square miles (811,55 km²), and it has many tributaries including Shimsha, Hemavati, Arkavathy, Kapila, Honnuhole, Lakshmana Tirtha, Kabini, Lokapavani, Bhavani, Noyyal and Famous Amaravati.

Mahanadi River System

The Mahanadi River system is the third largest in the peninsula of India and the largest river of Orissa state. The basin (80º30’–86º50’ E and 19º20’–23º35’ N) extends over an area approximately 1415,89 km2, has a total length of 851 km. The basin is characterized by a tropical climate with average annual rainfall of 142 cm (NWDANational water development agency, 1981) with 90% occurring during the SW-monsoon. The river begins in the Baster hills of Madhya Pradesh flows over different geological formations of Eastern Ghats and adjacent areas and joins the Bay of Bengal after divided into different branches in the deltaic area. The main branches of River Mahanadi meet Bay of Bengal at Paradip and Nuagarh (Devi estuary). The tidal estuarine part of the river covers a length of 40 km and has a basin area of 9 km2. Based on physical characteristics, the estuary has been characterized as a partially mixed coastal plain estuary.

Independent Rivers in India

List of independent rivers in India Read More--

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