List of major rivers of India 2024

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List of major rivers of India

List of major rivers of India: With its vast river system, India is home to some of the world’s most important waterways. These rivers have enormous cultural, historical, and ecological value in addition to being essential water sources for industry, drinking, and agriculture.

India’s rivers wind through the nation, influencing both its topography and way of life. From the powerful Ganges, considered sacred by millions, to the life-giving Brahmaputra in the northeast, the rivers crisscross the country. Major rivers such as the Yamuna, Krishna, Narmada, Godavari, and Indus run through a variety of landscapes, supporting ecosystems and supporting civilizations along their banks. These waterways are essential to India’s identity and legacy since they are its lifelines, impacting the country’s economy, agriculture, and cultural fabric.

The principal river systems in India are listed below

Sr. No.River NameKM
1.Ganga River2510
2.Brahmaputra2900
3.Indus River3180
4.Sutlej River1450
5.Krishna River1400
6.Yamuna River1376
7.Narmada River1312
8.Godavari River1465
9.Ghaghara River1080
10.Gomati River0960
11.Chenab River0960
12.Mahanadi River0900
13.Barak River0900
14.Kaveri River0805
15.Kali Gandaki River0814
16.Jhelum River0725
17.Koshi River0729
18.Tapi River0724
19.Manjra River0724
20.Painganga River0676
21.Betwa River590
22.Damodar River592
23.Penna River597
24.Tungabhadra River531
25.Indravati River535
26.Then Pennai River500
27.Luni River495
28.Subansiri River442
29.Subarnarekha River474
30.Beas River470
31.Palar River348
32.Mahananda River360

The Most Significant Indian River Systems: A List of Rivers and Their Origin

1. The Ganges (Ganga)

Origin: The Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand is the source of the Ganges, one of the most revered rivers in India.

Length: It is one of India’s longest rivers, spanning around 2,525 kilometers through the country’s northern plains.

Drainage Area: Parts of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal are included in the vast Ganges basin.

Significance: The Ganges is highly religious and culturally significant to millions of people in India. It is revered as a deity in Hindu mythology. Bathing in its holy waters is said to atone for sins and bring salvation. Numerous cities, towns, and villages along its banks have prospered for generations, depending on the river for transportation, irrigation, and food. The Ganges is being rejuvenated and preserved in order to ensure its vitality for future generations, despite pollution challenges.

2. The Yamuna

Origin: The Yamuna River rises in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, close to the Yamunotri shrine, on the Yamunotri Glacier.

Length: It travels through India’s northern plains for around 1,376 kilometers before joining the Ganges at Allahabad (Prayagraj).

Yamuna basin drainage area includes portions of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi.

Significance: The Yamuna is an essential part of Indian culture and religion. It is regarded as the Ganges’ sister in Hindu mythology. For millennia, its waters have sustained agriculture, industry, and urban centers, feeding civilizations. However, the health and sustainability of the river have been seriously threatened by pollution and encroachment, which has led to conservation efforts and measures to bring the river back to its former splendor.

3. The Brahmaputra

Origin: The Yarlung Tsangpo, also known as the Chemayungdung Glacier in Tibet, is the source of the Brahmaputra River.

Length: The river travels for almost 2,900 kilometers, emptiesing into the Bay of Bengal after passing through Bangladesh, India, and Tibet.

Drainage Area: Large portions of Tibet, India (especially Assam), and Bangladesh are included in the Brahmaputra basin.

Significance: The Brahmaputra, also referred to as Assam’s lifeline, is essential to the socioeconomic and biological dynamics of the area. With its assistance for transportation, agriculture, and fisheries, it provides a living for millions of people. The river’s yearly flooding is both a blessing and a curse since it restores soil fertility and supports a variety of habitats, even though it is damaging.

4. The Indus

Origin: The Tibetan Plateau, which is located near Lake Mansarovar, is where the Indus River begins.

Length: The river flows for around 3,180 kilometers, mostly across Pakistan, India, and China as they exist now.

Drainage Area: Parts of China, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are included in the huge territory that makes up the Indus basin.

Significance: The foundation of the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the earliest urban civilizations in history, is the Indus River and its tributaries, the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej. For millennia, it has supported human settlements by promoting trade, agriculture, and cross-cultural interactions. The economies of India and Pakistan rely on the Indus basin as a major supply of water for agricultural and hydroelectric production. Nonetheless, disagreements over the use and management of water resources continue to be a barrier to regional harmony and stability.

5. The Narmada

Origin: The Amarkantak Plateau in Madhya Pradesh is the source of the Narmada River.

Length: It empties into Gujarat’s Arabian Sea after flowing for about 1,312 kilometers.

Drainage Area: A portion of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh are included in the Narmada basin.

Significance: The Narmada is praised for its purity and beauty and is considered a goddess in Hindu mythology. It is said that blessings and sins can be washed away by taking a plunge in the river. The river’s ecological importance is demonstrated by the variety of plants and animals that make the Narmada valley home, including the critically endangered Gharial. The Narmada River is still a representation of resiliency and renewal even in the face of threats from dams, pollution, and deforestation.

List of major rivers of India
List of major rivers of India

6. The Krishna

Origin: The Krishna River rises in the Maharashtra region of the Western Ghats, close to Mahabaleshwar.

Length: The river travels through Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka for around 1,400 kilometers before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

Drainage Area: A portion of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh are included in the Krishna basin.

Significance: The Deccan plateau’s agriculture depends on the Krishna River to sustain the growth of sugarcane, rice, and other crops. The Satavahanas and the Vijayanagara Empire are two examples of the ancient civilizations that grew stronger because to its waters. The Krishna basin is now a hive of economic activity, with metropolitan areas, industry, and hydropower projects thriving along its banks. Nonetheless, the necessity of sustainable management and conservation initiatives is highlighted by worries about pollution, water scarcity, and ecological destruction.

7. The Mahanadi

Origin: The Sihawa Ridge in Chhattisgarh is the source of the Mahanadi River.

Length: The river travels through Odisha and Chhattisgarh for around 858 kilometers before draining into the Bay of Bengal.

Water Area: A portion of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra are included in the Mahanadi basin.

Significance: The Mahanadi River sustains agriculture, industry, and biodiversity in the region, serving as a key lifeblood for the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha. By building dams and reservoirs, its waters have been used for irrigation, making it easier to grow rice, lentils, and oilseeds. In addition, the river generates hydropower, which helps the area meet its energy needs. Sustainable management techniques and conservation activities are necessary to address the threats to water quality and ecosystem health posed by pollution from industrial effluents and agricultural runoff.

8. The Tapti (Tapi)

Origin: The Madhya Pradesh district of Betul is where the Tapti River begins.

Length: The river travels across Gujarat and Maharashtra for around 724 kilometers before draining into the Arabian Sea.

Water drainage Area: A portion of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh are included in the Tapti basin.

Significance: The Tapti River, often referred to as Tapi, which, is essential to the irrigation and farming of the area, enabling the production of sugarcane, grain, and cotton. By building dams, its waters have been used to generate hydropower, which helps the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat meet their energy needs. Like many other rivers in India, the Tapti is threatened by industrial discharge, pollution, and irresponsible water usage, which emphasizes the critical need for sustainability and long-term management strategies.

9. The Kaveri 

Origin: The Brahmagiri Hills in Karnataka’s Western Ghats are the source of the Kaveri River.

Length: It travels across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for around 800 kilometers before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

Length: It travels across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for around 800 kilometers before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

Significance: Millions of people in South India regard the Kaveri River to be a sacred river, and its waters are cherished as such. It also provides the region’s agriculture with a vital lifeline, enabling the growth of rice, sugarcane, and other crops. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka share the river’s waters, which causes disagreements about how to distribute and use it. In spite of these obstacles, the Kaveri continues to be a representation of natural diversity and cultural cohesion, and initiatives are being made to advance conservation and sustainable water management techniques.

10. The Godavari River

Origin: The Godavari River rises in the Maharashtra district of Nashik, close to Trimbak.

Length: After the Ganges, it is the second-longest river in India, spanning over 1,465 kilometers.

Drainage Area: Parts of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Karnataka are included in the Godavari basin.

Significance: The Godavari River has great religious and cultural importance in India and is frequently referred to as the Ganga of the South. It is revered as a goddess and is essential to Hindu celebrations and rites. Along its course, the river supports a variety of ecosystems and supports industry, livelihoods, and agriculture. Rice, sugarcane, and other commodities can be grown in the extremely fertile Godavari delta. However, pollution, deforestation, and dam development pose threats to the river, underlining the necessity of environmentally friendly approaches to maintain the river’s health and vitality for its entire lifespan.

11. The Ghaghara

Origin: The Tibetan Plateau, close to Mansarovar Lake, is the source of the Ghaghara River.

Length: It flows through Tibet, Nepal, and India for over 1,080 kilometers before joining the Ganges in Bihar.

Drainage Area: A portion of Tibet, Nepal, and India are included in the Ghaghara basin.

Significance: An important contributor to the hydrology of the area, the Ghaghara River is one of the Ganges’ principal tributaries. Along its path, it supports ecosystems, fisheries, and agriculture while also enhancing the Ganges basin’s biodiversity, water availability, and sediment transfer. During the monsoon season, when the river is likely to flood, soil fertility is restored and agricultural productivity in the plains of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh is maintained. Integrated flood management and conservation techniques are necessary, nevertheless, as unplanned growth, deforestation, and climate change have increased flood risks and negatively harmed the health of the river.

12. The Tungabhadra River

Beginning with: The Eastern Ghats in the state of Karnataka are the source of the Tungabhadra River.

length: Mainly passing through the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, it is about 531 kilometers long.

Water Area: A portion of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are included in the Tungabhadra basin.

Significance: The Tungabhadra River, a tributary of the Krishna River, is essential to the area’s agriculture and irrigation systems. For millennia, people have utilized its waters by building dams and reservoirs, such as the well-known Tungabhadra Dam, which facilitates irrigation, the production of hydropower, and the provision of water for both urban and rural areas. With several temples and ancient monuments scattered along its banks, the river valley is well-known for its historical and cultural value. On the other hand, comprehensive watershed management and conservation strategies are required to handle the new issues of pollution, sedimentation, and water scarcity.

13. The Beas River

Origin: The Beas River rises in the Himalayas near the Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh, at the Beas Kund.

Length: It passes mostly across the states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh for a distance of about 470 kilometers.

Irrigation Area: A portion of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are included in the Beas basin.

Significance: Known as the “land of five rivers,” the Punjab region is made up of five rivers, including the Beas River. It is an important tributary of the Indus River that is vital to the region’s agriculture, irrigation, and hydroelectric power production. With its verdant forests, snow-capped hills, and bountiful plains, the Beas Valley is well known for its breathtaking natural elegance. But as the river’s environment has been strained by growing urbanization, industrialization, and tourism, problems with pollution, habitat degradation, and lack of water have arisen, necessitating conservation and sustainable management solutions.

14. The Chambal River

Origin: The Vindhya Range in Madhya Pradesh is the source of the Chambal River.

Length: It travels mostly across the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for a distance of about 960 kilometers.

Irrigation Area: A portion of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh are included in the Chambal basin.

Significance: Having maintained most of its natural habitat, the Chambal River has been dubbed “the cleanest river in India.” It is a branch of the Yamuna River which supports many different kinds of wildlife, including some extremely few species like the Gharial and the Red-crowned Rooftop Tortoise. The river basin is essential to agriculture since it provides water for irrigation and supports the local population’s way of life. Despite challenges from sand mining, pollution, and dam development, the Chambal continues to be a symbol of the resilience of ecosystems and the beauty of environment.

15. The Tista River

Origin: The Indian state of Sikkim is where the Tista River rises in the Himalayas.

Length: Before entering Bangladesh, the river flows for around 315 kilometers, mostly through the states of West Bengal and Sikkim.

Irrigation Area: A portion of Bangladesh, West Bengal, and Sikkim are included in the Tista basin.

Significance: The transboundary Tista River plays a significant role in the economic and biological dynamics of the region. It is an important branch of the Brahmaputra River that supports the fishing, farming, and hydropower sectors in West Bengal and Sikkim. The river basin has unique cultural importance because of the numerous holy sites & festivals associated with its waters. The Tista is hindered by sedimentation, erosion, and projects that divert water, which impacts biodiversity and the livelihoods of those who depend on its supplies on top of to the river’s flow.

Conclusion

India’s rivers are vital to the country; they maintain ecosystems, shape landscapes, and support incomes for people in many different areas and cultures. Every waterway, be it the serene meandering of the peninsular rivers or the snow-fed rivers of the Himalayas, has its own special qualities, importance, and difficulties.

A concentrated effort is needed to deal with the complex interactions of environmental, social, and financial variables in order to safeguard the future of the country’s rivers. This include encouraging environmentally friendly methods of using water, repairing damaged ecosystems, and reinforcing laws pertaining to pollution prevention and river maintenance. We can guarantee a future in which India’s rivers flow freely, supporting life and wealth for future generations, by acknowledging the intrinsic worth of these waterways and collaborating to protect and restore them.

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