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River System in India

Published on Sunday, December 03, 2017
Rivers in India are divided into two types:
  1. The Himalayan River system
  2. The Peninsular river system

Differences between Himalayan River system and peninsular river system:

Himalayan River system Peninsular river system
Most of the Himalayan rivers
are perennial that is they have water
Throughout the year
They are seasonal not perennial
They receive water from rain as well as
Melting of snow
They receive water from rain only
They have long courses from their
Source to sea
They have shorter courses from their
Source to sea
Examples: Indus and Brahmaputra Examples: Krishna and Godavari

Himalayan River System:

The Himalayan River system are further divided into:
  • Indus river system
  • Ganga river system
  • Brahmaputra river system

Indus river system:

 a. Indus:

  • The river originates in Bokhar Chu glacier in Mt. Kailash near Mansarovar Lake in Tibet
  • It flows westwards and enters into India in Jammu and Kashmir, further flows through Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and enters Pakistan.
  • Flowing further westwards, it reaches the Arabian Sea near Karachi.
The Indus river system consists of following rivers:
  • Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Chenab and Jhelum are its other tributaries
  • Zanskar, Nubra and Shyok, and Hunza in Pakistan.
  • Jhelum Verinag spring in Kashmir Chenab Bara-lach la pass Sutlej Rakshastal lake in Tibet Beas Beas Kund in Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh Ravi Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh

Name of the river Place of origin
Indus Near Lake Mansarovar
Jhelum Verinag spring in Kashmir
Chenab Bara-lach la pass
Sutlej Rakshastal lake in Tibet
Beas Beas Kund in Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh
Ravi Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh

Indus water treaty:

  • It is a water distribution treaty between Indian and Pakistan.
  • The treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19th 1960.
  • It was signed by Jawaharlal Nehru from India and Pakistan President Ayub khan
  • According Indus water treaty 20% of total water discharged by Indus can utilize by India.
  • As per treaty three "eastern" rivers was given to India while control over the three "western" rivers was given to Pakistan.
  • Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej — was given to India
  • Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum — to Pakistan.

Ganga River System

  • Ganga (Ganges) River system is the largest river system in India.
  • It originates in the Gomukh glacier near Mana pass in Uttarakhand. At the point of origin it is known as Bhagirathi
  • The upstream Bhagirathi joins the other stream named Alaknanda at Devprayag to form River Ganga.
  • Ganga has tributaries on both banks; its
  • Right bank tributaries are the Yamuna (which is a major river), and Son.
  • Left bank tributaries: Gomti, Ghaghara, Gandak, Kosi.Ganges flows through Indian states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. It finally reaches the Bay of Bengal.

Important rivers in Ganga river system:

1. Yamuna:
  • It is originated in Yamunotri glacier.
  • It is the western most tributary of Ganga
2. Chambal:
  • It is originated in Chambal ranges
  • Gandhi Sagar dam and Rana Pratap Sagar are the important dams on this river
3. Kosi River:
  • River Kosi is known as Sorrow of Bihar
4. Damodar River:

Brahmaputra River system:

  • The Brahmaputra, one of the major rivers in India, originates in the Angsi glacier of the Himalayas in Tibet.
  • In Tibet Brahmaputra as known as the Tsangpo River.
  • Brahmaputra enters into India in Arunachal Pradesh. In Arunachal Pradesh Brahmaputra is known as the Dihang River.
  • In India the river flows in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Majuli which is the largest island in Asia lies in this river.

Peninsular River system:

Most of the Peninsular Rivers flow eastwards and enters into the Bay of Bengal. Only Narmada and Tapi rivers which flow westwards of the Western Ghats.
They are good for generating hydropower because these rivers form rapids & waterfalls.
The major peninsular rivers are Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri.


  • Godavari rises in the Western Ghats in the Nasik district of Maharashtra.
  • It is the largest peninsular river
  • Its length is about 1500 km.
  • Because of its length and the area it covers, it is also known as the ‘Dakshin Ganga’.
  • Its drainage basin is also the largest among the peninsular rivers.
  • The basin covers parts of Maharashtra (about 50 per cent of the basin area lies in Maharashtra), Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Some of the important tributaries of Godavari are Purna, the Wardha, the Pranhita, the Manjra, the Wainganga and the Penganga.
  • Finally it drains into the Bay of Bengal.


  • The River Krishna rises from a spring near Mahabaleshwar in the Western Ghats.
  • The river is also known as Krishnaveni.
  • The Tungabhadra, the Koyana, the Ghatprabha, the Musi and the Bhima are some of its tributaries.
  • Its drainage basin is shared by Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • It flows around 1,300 km and finally drains into Bay of Bengal.

River Kaveri

  • The Kaveri rises in the Brahmagri range of the Western Ghats
  • Total length of the river is about 760 km
  • Its basin drains parts of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu
  • Finally it reaches the Bay of Bengal in the south of Cuddalore, in Tamil Nadu.
  • The river Kaveri makes the second biggest waterfall in India, known as Sivasamudram.

The Mahanadi:

  • Mahanadi River rises in the Chattisgarh basin.
  • Cuttack city is located at the apex of the Mahanadi delta.
  • Total length of the river- 885 km

The Narmada:

  • The Narmada rises in the Amarkantak of the Maikal hills in Madhya Pradesh.
  • It is also known as Life line of Madhya Pradesh.
  • It flows towards the west in a rift valley formed due to faulting.
  • On its way to the sea, the Narmada creates many picturesque locations.

Model Questions:

1. In which year Indus water treaty was signed?
a. 1950
b. 1960
c. 1970
d. 1975

2. Majuli Island is located in which river?
a. Indus
b. Ganga
c. Brahmaputra
d. Yamuna

3. Bhakra-Nangal project is located on which river?
a. Beas
b. Ravi
c. Sutlej
d. Chenab

4. Which of the following river is known as Sorrow of Bihar?
a. River Damodar
b. Yamuna
c. Ganga
d. River Kosi

5. Which is the longest river in peninsular India?
a. Godavari
b. Krishna
c. Kaveri
d. Narmada

6. Hirakud dam is located on
a. Godavari
b Mahanadi
c. Yamuna
d. Ganga

7. Which of the following river drains into Arabian Sea?
a. Narmada
b. Godavari
c. Krishna
d. Kaveri

8. In which year Interstate dispute act was passed?
a. 1950
b. 1956
c. 1961
d. 1975

9. Shivanasamudra waterfalls is located on
a. Narmada
b. Godavari
c. Krishna
d. Kaveri

10. Dhuandhar Falls located on
a. Narmada
b. Godavari
c. Krishna
d. Kaveri


  1. b. 1960
  2. c. Brahmaputra
  3. c. Sutlej
  4. d. River Kosi
  5. a. Godavari
  6. b Mahanadi
  7. a. Narmada
  8. b. 1956
  9. d. Kaveri
  10. a. Narmada

We have also update the  Rivers in India - Length,Touching States and Facts
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