Ganga River System: About, Origin, Tributaries, Map

By Ritesh|Updated : July 23rd, 2022

The Ganga River System, which includes several perennial rivers and non-perennial rivers, is the largest river system in India. It has its southern origins in the peninsula and northern origins in the Himalayas. It originates in the Gangotri glacier, very close to Gaumuk in Uttarkashi. It is called Bhagirathi at this point. The Ganga is the name given to the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Alakhnanda in Devprayag.

The Ganga River system is a very important part of Indian geography and UPSC GS 2. Several questions have been asked about the advancements and updates with respect to the Ganga River system.

Table of Content

What is the Ganga River System?

The river system Ganga extends across Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet, and India covering almost 10,86,000 square kilometers of area.

  • It makes up nearly one-fourth of India's total land area and is the country's biggest river basin covering nearly 8,61,452 square kilometers of area.
  • The sacred river is fueled by melting Himalayan snowfall, rain, and freshwater from tributaries.
  • The area covered by it includes the union territory of Delhi, the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.

Download Ganga River System Notes PDF

Ganga Drainage System

Alaknanda

Alaknanda is one of the Ganga's headstreams. In Uttarakhand, it emerges from the confluence and base of the Satopanth glacier and Bhagirath glacier. At Devprayag, when it emerges from the Bhagirathi River, it acquires the name Ganga. The Mandakini, Nandakini and Pindar rivers are its principal tributaries. Parts of the districts of Chamoli, Pauri, and Tehri are drained by the Alaknanda river system.

Bhagirathi

Bhagirathi headstreams join the Alaknanda at the Devprayag leading to the formation of the Ganga river. It is the most crucial headstream of the Ganga river. The Bhagirathi rises at Gaumukh, which is located at the height of 3892 metres above sea level, near the base of Chaukhamba peak, in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, at the foothills of Gangotri glacier. Along the river, Gangotri, Tehri, and Uttarkashi were some of the significant townships.

Dhauliganga

It hails from Vasudhara Tal, called Uttarakhand's biggest glacier lake. One of the Alaknanda's significant tributaries, along with the Mandakini, Nandakini, Pindar and Bhagirathi, is the Dhauli Ganga. The Rishiganga river joins the Dhauliganga in Raini. At Vishnuprayag, it combines with the Alaknanda River. The Alaknanda then sheds its identity and continues to flow in the south-western direction until it meets the northbound Mandakini river at Rudraprayag. The Alaknanda continues past Srinagar after swallowing up Mandakini until it meets the Ganga at Devprayag. The powerful Ganga continues its voyage after Alaknanda vanishes, initially pouring south and then west, past significant pilgrimage sites like Rishikesh before finally plunging into the Indo-Ganga lands at Haridwar.

Rishiganga

The Rishi Ganga river rises through the Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. It emerges from the Nanda Devi mountains Utri Nanda Devi glacier. Near the townlet of Raini, it passes across the Nanda Devi National Park before joining the Dhauli Ganga river.

Ganga River System Map

The map for the Ganga river system is given below:

Ganga River System

Ganga River Tributaries

The tributaries of the Ganga river are divided into two categories for easier understanding. These are as follows:

Ganga Right Bank Tributaries

  • Yamuna: The Yamuna river is one of the longest tributaries of the Ganga river system. The Yamunotri glacier acts as its source, which is 6316 km long and is found on the western foothills of the Bandarpunch range.
  • Son: This significant Ganga Southbank tributary provides water to the Amarkantak plateau. The river creates a series of waterfalls before flowing westward to Arrah, located in the west of Patna, the spot it enters the Ganga river system.
  • Punpun: The Punpun river rises in the Palamu district of Jharkhand and flows through Chatra, Aurangabad, Gaya, and Patna.
  • Falgu: Falgu or Phagu is the river flowing past Gaya, a district in the state of Bihar. Falgu is an important tourist destination and holds importance from the pilgrimage point of view. Falgu River is also famous as the 'Niranjana River.
  • Kiul: Kiul river is the tributary of Ganga, and originates in Jharkhand. It also flows through the districts of Lakhisarae, Sheikhpura, and Jamui in Bihar. This river is 110km long and drains an area of about 16,500kms.
  • Chandan: Chandan river can be found flowing in the district of Bhagalpur in Bihar. Popularly, this river is known as Champa to the locals as on its banks, the Champa village was established.
  • Ajoy: Jharkhand's Ajoy or Ajay river originates from a small hill in Deoghar, which is about 300mt in height. Ajay river originates from Jharkhand and ends up in Simjuri of West Bengal, via Bihar.
  • Damodar: Damodar is an important tributary of Ganga river. Damodar originates from the region of ChhotaNagpur Plateau, the Palamau district of Bihar.
  • Rupnarayan: Rupnarayan river originates from Dhalkisor, in the foothills of ChhotaNagpur Plateau, and ends up in the town of Bankura, where it becomes the Dwarkeshwar river.
  • Tamsa: Tamsa river is the tributary of the Ganga, that flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It originates from Tamkund in the Kaimur range.
  • Karamnasa: Karamnasa is the tributary of the Ganga river that originates from the Kaimur region and flows through the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Ganga Left Bank Tributaries

  • Ramganga: The Ramganga tributary drains the south-western region of Kumaun. It originates from the Southern slopes of Dudhatoli hill located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
  • Garra: Major industrial regions of the Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh are traversed by the Garra River, a tributary of the river Ganga.
  • Gomti: The Gomti River rises from Gomti Taal, also called Fulhaar Jheel, which is located close to Madho Tanda in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh. It travels 900 km in UP before coming along with the Ganga river in Ghazipur.
  • Ghaghara: The glaciers in Mapchachungo are the source of the Ghaghara river. It traverses the Nepalese Himalayas before joining the Sharada river in Brahma Ghat, India. It joins the Ganga in Chhapra in Bihar and is a significant left-bank tributary to the Ganga river system. It is 1080 km long. The principal tributaries of this river are Sarju, Sharda, Rapti, and Chhoti Gandak.
  • Gandak: The Gandak River is created by the confluence of the Kali and Trisuli river, which originated in Nepal's great Himalayan range. It travels a tortuous 765 km before entering the Ganga in Sonepur, which is located in Patna.
  • Burhi Gandak: Burhi Gandak is a 320 km long river that passes through the East Champaran district before beginning its journey from Chautarwa Chaur near Bishambhar Pur in the West Champaran district of Bihar. Burhi Gandak traverses 32 km through the Muzaffarpur district before heading South East.
  • Kosi: It is also known as the Saptakoshi. Saptakoshi is an ancient transboundary river that flows across Nepal and India and has seven Himalayan tributaries. Arun, Bhote Koshi, and Sun Kosi are a few of the rivers that originate in Tibet, which are a part of the Kosi river system. One of the Ganga's major tributaries, the Kosi river has a 729 km long stretch and meets Ganga in Kursela in the Katihar district.

Ganga River System UPSC

The Ganga river system is an integral part of the UPSC mains syllabus. It is important to be well versed with current affairs as well as regularly go through the UPSC study material available. For mock practice, you can also refer to the UPSC previous year's test questions.

Download Ganga River System UPSC Notes PDF

National Mission for Clean Ganga

The National Mission for Clean Ganga was launched in 2011 and was listed under the Societies Registration Act 1860. This mission was initiated to address the increasing and decreasing levels of pollution in the entire Ganga River Basin. The operational area of the national mission for Clean Ganga includes the entire Ganga basin that passes through all the states including Delhi.

In the lieu of a national mission for Clean Ganga, a flagship program was initiated named does Namami Gange program in June 2014 specification for the conservation and rejuvenation of river Ganga.

The prime motive of the national mission for Clean Ganga was to incorporate working on the existing sewage treatment plants to curve the problem of pollution on the riverfront. Also, it aims for restoring and maintaining the groundwater and regenerating the natural vegetation of the nearby area.

UPSC Sample Question on Ganga River System

Question: Which of the following is right true to the Ganga river system?

  1. Mahanadhi
  2. Narmada
  3. Kaveri
  4. Yamuna

Answer: D

Other Important UPSC Notes
Ramsar Sites in IndiaCenter-state Relations
Masala BondsNo Confidence Motion
Financial Action Task Force (FATF)Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code [IBC]
SEBI UPSCIndia-China Relations
Attorney General of IndiaSimon Commission
Wahabi MovementPESA ACT 1996

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FAQs for Ganga River System

  • The river system Ganga extends across Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet, and India covering almost 10,86,000 square kilometres of area. It makes up nearly one-fourth of India’s total land area and is the country‘s biggest river basin covering nearly 8,61,452 square kilometres of area. The sacred river is fueled by melting Himalayan snowfall, rain, and freshwater from tributaries. The area covered by it includes the union territory of Delhi, the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.

  •  In Uttarakhand, Alaknanda emerges from the confluence and base of the Satopanth glacier and Bhagirath glacier. At Devprayag, when it emerges from the Bhagirathi River, it acquires the name Ganga. The Mandakini, Nandakini and Pindar rivers are its principal tributaries. Parts of the districts of Chamoli, Pauri, and Tehri are drained by the Alaknanda river system.

  • The Kosi river is also known as the Saptakoshi. Saptakoshi is an ancient transboundary river that flows across Nepal and India and has seven Himalayan tributaries. Arun, Bhote Koshi, and Sun Kosi are a few of the rivers that originate in Tibet, which are a part of the Kosi river system. One of the Ganga‘s major tributaries, the Kosi river has a 729 km long stretch and meets Ganga in Kursela in the Katihar district.

  • The right bank tributaries of the Ganga River System includes:

    • Yamuna
    • Tamsa
    • Karamnasa
    • Sone
    • Punpun
    • Falgu
    • Kiul
    • Chandan
    • Ajoy
    • Damodar
    • Rupnarayan

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