Drainage System of India

 India is the country of rivers. Here, more than 4000 big and small rivers are found, which can be divided into 23 large and 200 small river basins. On the basis of origin, Indian rivers are broadly divided into (A)Himalayan Rivers and (B) Peninsular Rivers. The differences in drainage pattern and water levels are found in these two types of river systems. In India, water mainly drains in two directions of the main water divide line of India. 90% of land water drains into the Bay of Bengal and the rest drains into Arabian Sea.

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(A) Himalayan Rivers

Indus System

This system includes the Indus and its tributaries, like Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sultej(The Panchnad), etc. It is 2880 km long, originates from Mansarovar lake in Tibet. In India, it flows between Zaskar and Ladakh ranges. It is also one of the largest river of the world. It is also known as the Sindhu and is India's westernmost Himalayan river. It flows from a glacier near Bokhar Chu in the Kailash Mountain range of Tibet. In Tibet, it is known as ‘Singi Khamban’; or Lion’s mouth.

Important tributaries of Indus System:

  • Jhelum - It originates from Verinag stream in J&K at 4900 m height & flows only in J&K. It passes through Wular Lake in Kashmir valley. It joins Chenab at Trimmu (Pakistan). Kishan Ganga and Lidar are important tributaries of Jhelum. Controversial Tulbul Project is located on this river.
  • Chenab - It originates from Chandra-Bhaga stream in Himachal Pradesh near Lahul & Spiti. It flows in Himachal Pradesh and J&K Jhelum and Ravi meet with Chenab in Himachal Pradesh. Controversial Baglihar Project is located across this river in Doda district of J&K. Salal, Dulhasti and Ranvir Sagar hydropower project is also located on river Chenab.
  • Ravi - It originates from Kullu hills near Rohtang pass (Himachal Pradesh). It flows in Himachal Pradesh, J&K and Punjab. Ranjit Sagar (also known as Thein Dam) is located on river Ravi.
  • Beas -  It originates from Beas kund near Rohtang pass in Himachal Pradesh and flows in Himachal Pradesh & Punjab. It joins Satluj at Harike (Punjab). Indira Gandhi Canal takes off from Harike barrage, which is the longest irrigation canal of India. It runs up to Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. Pong reservoir is constructed across this river.
  • Satluj - It originates from Rakshastal near Mansarovar Lake in Tibet and enters into India through Shipki-la pass (Himachal Pradesh). River Spiti is its major tributary. Satluj flows in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. It forms boundary between India and Pakistan near Ferozepur. Famous Bhakra-Nangal Projects located on the river Bhakra dam is also called Govind Sagar dam. Nathpa-Jhakri (Himachal Pradesh) is also located on this river and producing more power as compared to Bhakra-Nangal. Satluj is known as Langchen Khambab in Tibet.

Ganga System

Ganga System Ganga is the longest river of India (2510 km). It originates as Bhagirathi from Gangotri glacier in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Bhagirathi is joined by Alaknanda (originates from Badrinath) at Devprayag. Alaknanda and Bhagirathi flow in the name of Ganga below Devprayag. Major part of Ganga lies in Uttar Pradesh region Famous Tehri Dam is located on river Bhagirathi and it is considered as India's highest dam (265 m). 

Important tributaries of Ganga System:

Left Bank Tributaries - 

  1. Ramganga: It originates near Nainital and joins Ganga near Farrukhabad (Uttar Pradesh) 
  2. Gomti: It originates near Pilibhit and joins Ganga downstream to Varanasi near Ghazipur (Uttar Pradesh).
  3.  Kali or Sarda: It joins Ghaghra which meets Ganga near Chhapra (Bihar).
  4. Gandak: It originates from Nepal-China border in Tibet and joins Ganga near Hajipur (Bihar).
  5.  Kosi: It originates from Nepal-China border and is also known as Sorrow of Bihar. 
  6.  Mahananda: it originates from Nepal - Sikkim border and joins Ganga in Bangladesh.
Right Bank Tributaries - 
    1. Yamuna: It originates from Yamunotri glacier and joins Ganga at Prayagraj. Important tributaries of Yamuna are Chambal (originates from Mhow in Madhya Pradesh), Ken, Betwa, Dhasan etc.
    2. Son - It originates from Amarkantak plateau and flows towards north and joins Ganga near Manner (Danapur Bihar) upstream of Patna. It is the only peninsular river which directly joins Ganga Rihand river is its main tributary, Govind Vallabh Pant Sagar is located on Rihand river. It lies in Renukot region (near Hindalco) of Uttar Pradesh.

    Brahmaputra System

    It originates from Tumcho Khambhat glacier in Mansarovar Lake of Tibet. It is known as Tsangpo in Tibet( meaning "purifier"), Brahmaputra in Assam and Jamuna in Bangladesh.

    Brahmaputra is volume wise largest river of India where as lengthwise Ganga is the longest river of India. It is one of the longest rivers of the world and with regard to the volume of water it is among the four largest rivers of the world Its drainage system is spread in three countries- China (Tibet), India and Bangladesh and it takes a sharp south-westerly turn along the eastern side of the Namcha Barwa Mountain and forms a 5500 m deep gorge.

    Brahmaputra forms largest number of fresh water riverine islands in the world and among this, Majuli is the largest fresh water riverine island in the world.

    Important tributaries of Brahmaputra are Subansir Lohit. Tista, Pagladia, Puthumari, Jia Bhore Dibang or Sikang. Koppali, Jal-dhaka, Tor Barak, etc. Last four of these join in Bangladesh.

    (B) Peninsular Rivers

    The peninsular rivers are distinguished by their fixed course, lack of meanders, and nonperennial flow of water.
    The drainage system is older than the Himalayan drainage system.
    The Western Ghats, which run near the western coast, serve as a water divide between the major Peninsular rivers.
    Except for the Narmada and Tapi, the majority of the Peninsular rivers flow from west to east.
    The Peninsular drainage's other major river systems are the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri.

    Narmada River
    • It is the peninsular region's largest west-flowing river, flowing through a rift valley between the Vindhya (north) and Satpura Ranges (south). It rises in Madhya Pradesh from the Maikala range near Amarkantak. Major Tributaries of the river are Hiran, Orsang, Barna and Kolar.
    • The Narmada basin includes Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat. The Sardar Sarovar Project has been constructed on this river.

    • The Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, which is located in the Satpura ranges, is the source of another significant river that flows west. 
    • While much shorter in length than the Narmada, it too flows in a rift valley. 
    • Parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh are included in its basin.

    Mahanadi - 
    • The river origins in Chhattisgarh's Raipur area and flows through Odisha eventually discharging into the Bay of Bengal.
    • This river's drainage basin spans 53% of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and 47% of Odisha.
    • Seonath, Hasdeo, Mand, Ib, Jonking, and Tel rivers are among the major tributaries.
    • Its basin is bordered on the north by the Central India hills, on the south and east by the Eastern Ghats, and on the west by the Maikala range.
    Godavari -
    • It is also known as the "Dakshin Ganga" and is the largest Peninsular river system.
    • It rises in the Maharashtra district of Nasik and empties into the Bay of Bengal.
    • Its tributaries drain Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh.
    • Its main tributaries are the Penganga, Indravati, Pranhita, and Manjra.
    Krishna -
    • Krishna river is the second largest east-flowing Peninsular river, rising in Sahyadri near Mahabaleshwar.
    • Its major tributaries include the Koyna, Tungbhadra, and Bhima rivers.
    • Before entering the Bay of Bengal, it flows through the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.
    Kaveri -
    • The Kaveri river rises in the Brahmagiri hills of Karnataka's Kodagu district.
    • It is a holy river in southern India.
    • Its major tributaries include the Arkavathi, Hemavathi, Bhavani, Kabini, and Amravati.
    • It flows southeast through Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu before draining into the Bay of Bengal via Pondicherry.

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