Important Rivers of India

By Naveen Singh|Updated : July 26th, 2022

India's rivers play a significant role in people's life. They provide a large number of people across the country with potable water, cheap transportation, electricity, and livelihoods.

The Indian River system is categorized in-Himalayan Rivers and Peninsular Rivers based on their source.

Important Rivers of India

As the name indicates, the Himalayan rivers come from the Himalayas and flow through the Northern Plains.

The major rivers in the Himalayan System are:

  • The Indus River System
  • The Ganga River System
  • The Yamuna River System
  • The Brahmaputra River System

The main source of the Peninsular River System or Peninsular Drainage is the Western Ghats. Because the Western Ghats are forming a ' water divide, ' these rivers either flow eastward into Bengal Bay or westward into the Arab Sea. Peninsular rivers are rivers that are essentially rain-fed.

The major rivers in the Peninsular system are:

  • Mahanadi
  • Godavari
  • Krishna
  • Cauvery

Drain into the Bay of Bengal as they flow on the plateau eastward and create' delta' at their mouths; while the Narmada Tapti-the west-flowing rivers fall into the Arab Sea and create' estuaries.'

Not from glaciers, but from rain-fed rivers. During summer, these rivers significantly decrease or dry up.


Indus River System

In the early Hindu mythological texts, the mention of the Indus River or Sindhu River is witnessed. The river comes from Tibet near Lake Mansarovar. In Jammu and Kashmir, it flows westward into India, flows further through Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and reaches Pakistan.

It enters the Arab Sea near Karachi, flowing further west. Indus is Pakistan's biggest river and the national river of the country. Its Indian tributaries are Zanskar, Nubra, Shyok, and Pakistan's Hunza. Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Chenab and Jhelum are their other tributaries named after the state of Punjab.


Ganga River System

The Ganga river system (Ganges) is India's largest river system. It originates in the glaciers of Gangotri. The upstream Bhagirathi joins the other stream at Devprayag called Alaknanda to form the Ganga River. Ganga has tributaries on both banks; the Yamuna and Son are its right-bank tributaries.

Some of the left bank tributaries are Gomti, Ghaghara, Gandak, Kosi. The Ganges flows through Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal Indian countries. It lastly reaches the Bay of Bengal.

Yamuna River System

The Yamuna is Northern India's main river system. The river flows through Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana from Yamnotri. It crosses Delhi, Mathura, Agra and meets the Chambal, Betwa and Ken rivers to lastly join the Allahabad Ganga. Tons, Chambal, Hindon, Betwa and Ken are Yamuna's major tributaries. 

Brahmaputra River System

The Brahmaputra, one of India's main rivers, originates in Tibet's Himalayan Angsi glacier. It's called the Tsangpo River there. In Arunachal Pradesh, it enters India and is known as Dihang River.

 Dibang, the Lohit, the Kenula are tributaries which form the primary Brahmaputra River and flow through Assam, its longest course, enter Bangladesh and lastly falls into the Bay of Bengal. The Brahmaputra has the largest water quantity of all India's rivers.




The Mahanadi in East-central India is a significant river. It originates in Chhattisgarh's Sihava hills and flows through the state of Orissa (Odisha) through its main course. This river deposits more silt on the Indian subcontinent than any other river. Mahanadi runs through Sambalpur, Cuttack and Banki cities.


The Godavari River, after the Ganga, covers India's second-longest course. The river originates from Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra and flows along with its tributaries (Pravara, Indravati, Maner Sabri etc.) through the countries of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa (Odisha), Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Puducherry to lastly flow into the Bay of Bengal. The river is defined as Dakshina Ganga because of its lengthy course.

Krishna River

The Krishna is India's third-longest river, about 1300 km long. It originates from the Mahabaleshwar region of Maharashtra and flows through Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh to lastly pour into Bengal Bay. 

Kaveri River

The Kaveri (Cauvery) is a significant river in southern India and originates in Kogadu, Karnataka.

As many tributaries like Hemavati, Moyari, Shimsha, Arkavati, Honnuhole, Kabini, Bhavani, Noyill and Amaravati join it, Kaveri River expands.

Narmada and Tapti

The Narmada & Tapti river is the only major flowing rivers into the Arab Sea. Narmada's complete length flowing through Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat countries is equal to 1312 km. Amarkantak is Narmada's location of origin in Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh. From east to west, Narmada flows primarily through Central India and flows into the Arabian Sea.

The Tapti river follows a parallel course to the south of Narmada, flowing through the Maharashtra and Gujarat states on their way into the Gulf of Khambat. Purna, Girna and Panjhra are its three main tributaries.

Like most ancient religions, rivers are considered sacred by the Hindu faith and its mythology. The Ganges, Yamuna (a Ganges tributary), Brahmaputra, Mahanadi, Narmada, Godavari, Tapi, Krishna, and Kaveri are nine major Indian rivers. Indian soil also flows through parts of the Indus River.

The Indian river system comprises eight important rivers together with their various tributaries. Most rivers discharge their waters into the Bay of Bengal; nevertheless, there are a number of rivers whose itineraries take them across the west end of India and into the Arab Sea in the east direction.

Northern parts of the Aravalli range, Ladakh parts, and the barren Thar Desert regions have Inland Drainage.


River Systems of India


Length of River

Originates From

Area Covered

Ends in


3180/ 1114 in India

Tibet in northern slopes of Mount Kailash

India and Pakistan

Arabian sea

Ganga (Bhagirathi)


Gangotri in Uttrakhand

Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Bihar, West Bengal

Bay of Bengal

Yamuna (Jamuna)


Yamunotri in Garhwal

Delhi, Haryana and UP

Bay of Bengal


916 - in India

Angsi Glacier

Assam, Arunachal Pradesh

Bay of Bengal



Brahmagiri hills in Kogadu, Karnataka

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

Bay of Bengal

Godavari (Dakshin Bharat ki Ganga)


Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra

South-eastern part of Andhra Pradesh

Bay of Bengal



Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra

Maharashtra & Andhra Pradesh

Bay of Bengal



Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra

Arabian Sea



Betul, Madhya Pradesh district in the Satpura region

Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra

Arabian Sea



Sihava mountains of Chhattisgarh

Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa

Bay of Bengal



Varusanadu Hills

Madurai in Tamil Nadu

Bay of Bengal



Sivagiri peaks of Sundaramala, Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Bay of Bengal

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