Major Rivers of India

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The major rivers of India can be classified into two categories:

major rivers of india

i) Rivers of North India

ii) Rivers of South India

The rivers of north India originate from the Himalayas. They are perennial and fed by snow. The major rivers are Ganga, Brahmaputra, Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Indus and their tributaries.

The major rivers of south India include the Narmada, Krishna, Cauvery, Tapti, Mahanadi, and Godavari. They are not perennial as they dry up in summer. They originate from different hill ranges in south India.



The Ganga is also referred to as Mother Ganga. About 2,400 kms in length, It originates from the Gangotri glacier in the Himalayas. Flowing through the mountain bed for about 320 kms as “Bhagirathi”, it joins river Alaknanda at Devprayag. They combine to form ‘the Ganga’. It finally enters the Haridwar plains.

While Ganga flows on the plains, its tributaries like the Rama Ganga, the Gomati, and the Ghaghara, joins Ganga from its left bank. The Yamuna, Chambal, and the Son flows towards the east. In the lower reaches, Ganga joins with the Brahmaputra and finally flows into the Bay of Bengal as river Padma. Several measures are being taken for cleaning and purifying river Ganga.



Yamuna is the principal tributary of river Ganga. Originating from the glacier ‘Yamunotri’, the river flows parallel with the Ganga and finally joins with each other at Allahabad. Prayag – is the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna. It is a world famous pilgrimage center.


Brahmaputra is about 2,880 kms in length. Originating from the glacier Mount Kailash (near lake Manasarovar), it flows in Tibet in the name of Tango and enters India through Arunachal Pradesh. After flowing through the states of Assam and Meghalaya, It ultimately joins with Ganga and finally flows into the Bay of Bengal.


With a length of about 858 kms, Mahanadi is the largest river in the state of Orissa. Originating in the Amarkantak Plateau of Madhya Pradesh, the mighty river enters Orissa through the district of Jabalpur. It finally flows into the Bay of Bengal. The Paradip port is located on the mouth of the Mahanadi river.


With a length of about 1440 kms, Godavari is the largest river in south India . It origi­nates from Nasik. Flowing in the eastward direction, the river finally drains into the Bay of Bengal. Its delta starts from Rajahmundry inAndhra Pradesh. The river’s two major tributar­ies are the Indravati and Yen Ganga rivers.


Originating from Mahabaleshwar situated in the Western Ghats, the Krishna river finally flows into the Bay of Bengal. Its major tributaries are the Tungabhadra and the Bhima. Its delta begins at Vijayawada.

Kaveri (Cauvery)


Kaveri is described as ‘the Ganga of south India’. Originating from Coorg, it flows about 805 kms and enters the Bay of Bengal. In its course, there is a waterfall of about 98 meters near Shivanasamudra.

The Narmada and Tapti rivers are the major rivers flowing in the west of India. The Narmada originates from the Amarkantak Plateau. The Dhuandhar waterfall lies on its course.

The Tapti river also flows through the rift valley of the Satpura range and finally flows into the Bay of Cambay. 

Many torrential and water­fall-studded rivers originate from the Western Ghats and finally drain into the huge Arabian Sea. For example, the Surakarta and Prewar rivers. With a height of about 253 meters, the Jog Falls created by the Sharavati river, is one of the prominent waterfalls in India.

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