East Flowing Rivers in India

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

East flowing rivers in India form a significant part of the Indian subcontinent and the river system of India. These rivers are also known as the peninsular rivers. As we know that rivers have been the basis of many human activities, being one of the most important natural resources. The East flowing rivers of India are the ones that sail towards the Bay of Bengal.

Rivers are essential for many human activities such as agriculture, irrigation, navigation, and even hydropower generation. The East flowing rivers in India have led to the formation of deltas and possess a number of tributaries.

East Flowing Rivers in India

The major East flowing rivers in India are Krishna, Godavari, Subarnekha, Kaveri/Cauvery, Pennar, etc. These peninsular rivers are known to bring along large quantities of sediments compared to the West-flowing rivers. The majority of the river systems of India that are present in the Deccan region are known to be flowing in the east direction.

The East flowing rivers in India is an important topic in the Geography syllabus. It is also a crucial topic with respect to the UPSC exam. Various questions can be expected from this topic which forms a part of the General Studies, Paper 1.

List of East Flowing Rivers

India possesses a strong river system which is divided into a number of categories. There are 3 major river systems out of which the Peninsular River System forms an integral part. This system is composed of the major peninsular or east-flowing rivers such as Krishna, Cauvery, Godavari, and Mahanadi river systems. Here is a list of all the major East flowing rivers in India:

  • Subarnarekha River
  • Krishna River
  • Godavari River
  • Mahanadi River
  • Damodar River
  • Ponnaiyar River
  • Kaveri River
  • Sarada River
  • Vaigai River
  • Pennar River
  • Brahmani River

All the above-mentioned rivers form an integral part of the Indian river system and contain several tributaries. Let us discuss in detail the specific characteristics of each of these East flowing rivers of India.

East Flowing Rivers of India: Features, Characteristics

The main east-flowing rivers are the Krishna, Cauvery/Kaveri, Godavari, Mahanadi, Damodar, Pennar, etc. All of these rivers possess their own peculiar characteristics and form a separate ecosystem around them. The region where they exist has its own characteristics and biodiversity.

  • Some of the East flowing rivers in India are seasonal and they majorly depend on the kind of rainfall the area receives.
  • The east flowing rivers possess small basins as opposed to the large basins of the Himalayan rivers.
  • The peninsular rivers possess short and superficial courses.
  • Let us discuss in detail each of the east flowing rivers of India and understand their characteristics.

Subarnarekha River

Subarnarekha River is known as one of the longest rivers that comes under the category of the east flowing river. It emerges from the Ranchi Plateau located in the state of Jharkhand. It comes through at an elevation of 600 meters and merges with the Bay of Bengal later forming a delta. This delta is formed between the Mahanadi and Ganga deltas.

  • The total length of the Subarnarekha River is supposed to be 395 km before it merges with the Bay of Bengal.
  • The Subarnarekha River shares its borders with the Chota Nagpur plateau in the west and the north directions.
  • The south-west border is shared with the Brahmani basin, the south-eastern border with the Bay of Bengal and lastly, the southern border is shared with the Burhabalang basin,
  • Some of the main tributaries of the Subarnarekha River are Kharkai, Kanchi, Roro, Harmu Nadi, Gurma, Damra, Kodia, Dulunga, Chinguru, Garra, and Karkari.
  • Hundru Falls are said to have been formed along the Subarnarekha River course.
  • The height of Hundru Falls is almost 322 feet / 98 m.
  • A number of rock formations exist alongside the Subarnarekha River owing to soil erosion in the area.
  • Subarnarekha Basin extends to the states of Odisha, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.
  • This basin is greatly affected by the south-west monsoon which spans from the month of June till October.
  • A major part of the land around the basin is utilized for agricultural activities.

Krishna River

The Krishna River is another very important name among the east flowing rivers in India. It is situated mostly in the central-southern part of India. It is also denoted by the name of Krishnaveni. It plays a very significant role as a source of water which is used by states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka for irrigation purposes.

  • Krishna originates from the city of Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra. The main point of origin is situated near Jor village.
  • Krishna River is also known as one of the most calamitous east flowing rivers of India.
  • The reason behind it is that it results in heavy corrosion of land in its area during the rainy season.
  • The most significant tributary of Krishna is Tungabhadra which is a result of an amalgamation of Bhadra and the Tunga River.
  • Other major tributaries are Venna, Koyna, Bhima, Malaprabha, Ghataprabha, Musi, Dindi, Dudhganga, and Paleru rivers.

Godavari River

One of the other important east flowing rivers is the Godavari. It originates somewhere in Nashik which is a district in Maharashtra. Its course of flow happens to be along the Deccan Plateau. The point at which it merges with the Bay of Bengal is located near Narsapur, Andhra Pradesh.

  • Godavari is also known by another name; Dakshin Ganga or Southern Ganges.
  • The river Godavari is considered a sacred one for the Indian people and therefore a number of holy places have been built around it.
  • Some of the important tributaries of the Godavari River are Indravati, Manjira, Bindusara, and Sabari Rivers.
  • Godavari drainage basin exists in 6 Indian states that are Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, and Maharashtra.

Damodar River

The Damodar River is an east flowing river which flows past Jharkhand and West Bengal. The meaning of the word ‘Damodar’ is a ‘rope around the belly’. The river originates from the Khamarpat hill which is located on the Chotanagpur plateau in the state of Jharkhand. The length of the river is estimated to be around 591 km before it merges with the river Hugli.

  • The Damodar River was also known as the “ River of Sorrows” in the past.
  • It was known to bring heavy floods in its surrounding areas during monsoons.
  • Some of its main tributaries are Konar, Haharo, Barakar, Khadia, Bhera, and Guaia.
  • The biggest of them all is the Barakar tributary which originates from the district of Hazaribagh.
  • The Damodar Valley is a large area that spans 24, 235 square kilometers.
  • The valley is supposed to be enriched with coal which is high in demand.
  • A number of steel plants have been developed in the Damodar Valley.

Ponnaiyar River

There are a number of east flowing rivers in India. Ponnaiyar River is one among them. It is also known as the Dakshina Pinakini (Kannada) and Thenpennai (Tamil). Most popularly it is called Ponnaiyar. The point of origin of the Ponnaiyar River is the Nandi Hills in Karnataka. Before it merges with the Bay of Bengal, it flows across Tamil Nadu as well.

The Ponnaiyar River does not cover a very large area and covers three states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. There are two important dams built on this river namely – Krishnagiri and Sathanur. Another remarkable point of this east-flowing river is that the Moongilthuraipattu Sugar Factory has been built on its bank.

Brahmani River

The Brahamani basin is known to flow across the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Orissa before it merges with the Bay of Bengal. The origin of this river lies at the junction of the Sankh and Koel Rivers. The Brahmani River results in the formation of a large delta along with the Baitarani River before it empties into the Bay of Bengal.

Pennar River

One of the major east flowing rivers in India is the Pennar River, which is also called Uttara Pinakini. The length of this river is estimated to be 597 km before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The Pennar basin spans Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh with a total area of approximately 55000 square kilometres.

    • The Pennar River originates from the Chennakesava Hill of Nandidurg, which is located in Karnataka.
    • The Pennar basin is known to be fan-shaped.
    • A large part of the basin has been occupied with agricultural activities which amounts to almost 59 % of the total area.
    • The main tributaries of the Pennar River are Jayamangali, Chitravati, Kunderu, and Papagni.
    • A number of projects that are ongoing on this east flowing river are the Mylavaram Dam, the Somasila Project, and the Penna Ahobilam Balancing Reservoir.

Kaveri River

Another important one among the east flowing rivers of India is the Kaveri River. It is also considered to be very sacred and important by the Hindus. It originates from Talakaveri in the Western Ghats. The origin of the Talakaveri River itself lies in Karnataka somewhere in the Kodagu district. It is known to flow across Karnataka and Tamil Nadu towards the southeast.

Try this: Which of the Following Rivers Does Not Fall into the Bay of Bengal?

Before the Kaveri merges with the Bay of Bengal, it travels across the Deccan terrains and the southeast plains. Some of the major tributaries of Kaveri are Shimsha, Hemavati, Bhavani, Amaravati, Kabini, Arkavathy, and Noyyal.

Sarada River

The Sarada River can be considered a medium-sized one among all other east flowing rivers in India. It is also counted as an important river in the Indian river system. It originates in the Eastern Ghats and has an elevation of 1000 m. The length of the Sarada River is 122 km before it empties into the Bay of Bengal. The Sarada River basin is famous as it houses one of the largest cities – Visakhapatnam.

The city is accompanied by other smaller ones such as the Anakapalli, and the Yelamanchili. The Sarada River acts as an important place of irrigation for the district of Visakha.

Vaigai River

The Vaigai River originates from the Varusanadu Hills and is considered an important river in the list of east flowing rivers of India. The Vaigai basin is divided into two parts – a hilly area and a plain area. The Vaigai River merges itself with Palk Bay and is mainly situated in Tamil Nadu.

  • Vaigai River is also known as Shiva Ganga and Kritamaala.
  • It is named Kritamaala as it forms a garland as it passes through Madurai.
  • The important tributaries of the Vaigai River are Mullaiyaru, Manjalaru, Suruliyaru, Varaaga Nadhi, Kridhumaal, Upparu, and Kottagudi.
  • The Vattaparai Falls are also situated on the Vaigai River.
  • The river plays an important role in fulfilling the water requirements of 5 districts of Tamil Nadu.

East Flowing Rivers in India – MCQs

East-flowing rivers in India is an extremely important topic for the UPSC exam. Many questions on this topic have appeared in previous exams. Therefore, we have provided a few questions as examples related to the east flowing rivers of India.

Question 1: Which of the following is among the east flowing rivers in India? – (1) Cauvery, (2) Tapi, (3) Godavari, (4) Vaigai

Ans: Options 1, 3, and 4 – All except river Tapi are east flowing rivers of India. Tapi is a west-flowing river.

Question 2: Which river is called the ‘Bengal’s Sorrow’? (1) Krishna, (2) Godavari, (3) Subarnarekha, (4) Damodar

Ans: Option 4 – Damodar was earlier given the name Bengal’s Sorrow as it resulted in heavy floods every year in its surrounding areas and caused havoc.

Question 3: The Vaigai River rises in which of the following hills? (1) Varusanadu Hills (2) Agathiyar Hills (3) Kolli Hills (4) Nandi Hills

Ans: Option 1 – The Vaigai River originates from the Varusanadu Hills and merges with the Palk Bay later.

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