Major rivers of India
Rivers of India play an important role in the lives of the Indian people. The river systems provide irrigation, potable water, cheap transportation, electricity, and the livelihoods for a large number of people all over the country and to rural areas. This easily explains why nearly all the major cities of India are located by the banks of rivers. The rivers also have an important role in Hindu Dharma and are considered holy by all Hindus in the country.
Seven major rivers along with their numerous tributaries make up the river system of India. Most of the rivers pour their waters into the Bay of Bengal; however, some of the rivers whose courses take them through the western part of the country and towards the east of the state of Himachal Pradesh empty into the Arabian Sea. Parts of Ladakh, northern parts of the Aravalli range and the arid parts of the Thar Desert have inland drainage. Dr.Francis Buchanan surveyed the courses of the rivers of India along with their tributaries and branches in 1810-11 AD and presented a minute account of it. The shifting of the courses and bed over the centuries is very remarkable. Many of the channels mentioned in that survey have now become dead, dried or even extinct.
All major rivers of India originate from one of the three main watersheds:
- The Himalaya and the Karakoram ranges
- Vindhya and Satpura ranges and Chotanagpur plateau in central India
- Sahyadri or Western Ghats in western India
The Indo-Gangetic Plains
Popularly known as Ganga-Satluj Ka Maidaan (गँगा सतलुज का मैदान), this area is drained by 16 major rivers. The major Himalayan Rivers are the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra. These rivers are long,and are joined by many large and important tributaries. Himalayan rivers have long courses from their source to sea.(in India Arabian sea and Bay of Bengal)
Ganges River System
The major rivers in this system are (in order of merging, from west to east)
- Yamuna - Starting from Mansarovar Lake in Tibet
- Chambal - Not Himalayan river, covers MP and UP before merging into Yamuna
- Betwa - Not Himalayan river, covers Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh before merging into Yamuna
- Ganga - Yamuna runs its most of the course parallel to Ganga before contributing its water to Ganga at Allahabad
- Gomti - Starts near the junction of three borders viz. Nepal, Uttarakhand and UP
- Ghaghra - Starts in Nepal near Uttarakhand
- Son - Not Himalayan river, covers MP, UP, Jharkhand and Bihar. Largest of Ganga's southern tributaries
- Gandak - Starts from Nepal
- Kosi - Starts from Bihar, near Indo-Nepal border
- Brahmputra - Merges with Ganga to form the grand river (but short in length) - Padma in Bangladesh. By now, flow velocity of both rivers slow down to considerable extent as they are in plains now.
Indus River System
The 'Indus River originates in the northern slopes of the Kailash range near Lake Mansarovar in Tibet. Although most of the river's course runs through neighbouring Pakistan, as per as regulation of Indus water treaty of 1960, India can only use only 20 percent of water of river. A portion of it does run through Indian territory, as do parts of the courses of its five major tributaries, listed below. These tributaries are the source of the name of the Punjab of South Asia; the name is derived from the punch("five") and aab ("water"), hence the combination of the words (Punjab) means "land with the water of five rivers". Indus is 3200 km long.
The major rivers in Indus river system are (in order of their length)
The Peninsular River System
The main water divide in peninsular rivers is formed by the Western Ghats, which run from north to south close to the western coast. Most of the major rivers of the peninsula such as the Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna and the Kaveri flow eastwards and drain into the Bay of Bengal. These rivers make delta at their mouth. The Narmada and Tapti are the only long rivers, which flow west and make estuaries.