Rivers of India – List of Major Rivers of India and Their Tributaries

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Major Rivers of India are important to the country’s overall development. They provide drinking water, irrigation for crops, and means of transportation. Additionally, the rivers of India generate power and sources of livelihood for so many people. Every major city in India is situated alongside a river as it significantly supports people’s livelihood. All the important rivers in India are considered to be holy in nature, according to Hindu mythology.

The Bay of Bengal is known to receive water from most of the rivers in India, whereas the west-flowing rivers release their water into the Arabian Sea. This article highlights the major rivers of India including information about the longest, national, peninsular, and southernmost rivers.

Major Rivers of India

Indus, Brahmaputra, Narmada, Tapi, Godavari, Krishna, and Mahanadi are the seven major rivers that make up the Rivers of India. The majority of Indian river systems join the Bay of Bengal in the east.

Rivers of India and Their Origin and Tributaries PDF

Some of the Indian rivers flow through the country’s west and then flow east into the state of Himachal Pradesh flows into the Arabian Sea. All the major rivers of India flow from one of three major watersheds:

  • The Himalayan and Karakoram Mountain Ranges;
  • The Chota Nagpur Plateau, as well as the Vindhya and Satpura Ranges;
  • The Western Ghats.

National River of India

On November 4, 2008, the Ganga River, often known as the Ganges River was declared to be the National River of India. The Ganga is considered to be the purest and most spiritual river in India.

Before flowing into the turbulent waters of the Bay of Bengal through the Sunderbans delta, these rivers of India course through five states in the northern plains where it originates from its glacial source in the high Himalayas.

  • The National River of India replenishes vast tracts of agricultural land along its 2,500 km course and supports a long line of towns and cities.
  • The largest river basin in the world, the Ganga basin spans 860,000 square kilometers across 11 states.
  • The main Ganga River tributary is the Ghagra River.

Major Rivers of India Names with States

Different Rivers of India are situated at different places in the country. Take a glimpse at where the major Rivers of India are discovered state-wise.

Major Rivers of India States
Bhadra, Tungabhadra, Cauvery, Tunga & Pennar Karnataka
Betwa, Tapti, Wainganga, Khan, Narmada, Kshipra, Beehar, Chambal & Mandakini Madhya Pradesh
Brahmini & Mahanadi Orissa
Cauvery, Adyar, Cooum, Vennar, Vaigai & Tambarani Tamil Nadu
Chambal Rajasthan
Damodar, Ganga & Subarnarekha Jharkhand
Diphu & Dhansiri Nagaland
Ganga Bihar
Ganga Uttranchal
Ganga, Damodar & Mahananda West Bengal
Godavari & Musi Andhra Pradesh
Krishna, Godavari, Tapi and Panchganga Maharashtra
Mandovi Goa
Pamba Kerala
Rani Chu Sikkim
Sabarmati Gujarat
Satluj Punjab
Yamuna, Ganga & Gomti Uttar Pradesh
Yamuna Delhi
Yamuna Haryana

List of Indian Rivers and Their Tributaries

Have a look at the list of rivers in India, which flow from west to north and south along the Indian coast. Below we have discussed some of the major rivers of India and their tributaries:

Important Rivers in India Left Bank Tributaries Right Bank Tributaries
Brahmaputra Burhi Dihing, Dhansiri, Kopili, Dikhow, Desang Lohit, Subansiri, Jiabharali, Manas, Dhansiri, Torsa, Teesta, Sankosh, Dibang
Godavari Indravathi, Pranhita, Purna, and Sabari Pravara, Maner, Manjira
Indus Zanskar, Jhelum, Suru, Chenab, Soan, Ravi, Satluj, Beas, and Panjnad Shyok, Gomal, Hunza, Kunar, Swat, Kurram, Gilgit, and Kabul
Cauvery Harangi, Shimsha, Hemavati, and Arkavati Lakshmantirtha, Suvarnavati, Kabbani, Noyil, Bhavani
Ganga Ramganga, Gomti, Garra, Gandak, Ghaghara, etc. Yamuna, Tamsa, Sone, Karamnasa, Punpun, etc.
Krishna Bhima, Peddavagu, Dindi, Halia, Paleru, Musi, and Munneru Venna, Panchganga, Koyna, Ghataprabha, Dudhganga, etc.
Mahanadi Seonath, Mand, Hasdeo, and Ib Ong, Jonk, and Tel
Narmada Kharmer, Banjar, Burhner, Sanair, Temur, etc. Silgi, Gaur, Balai, Hiran, Biranjo, Barna, Tendoni, etc.
Yamuna Hanuman Ganga, Hindon, Sasur Khaderi Giri, Sindh, Ken, Baghain, Tons, Betwa, Chambal
Tapti Nesu, Girna, Arunavati, Mona, Buray, Panjhra, Purna, Bori, Waghur, and Sipna Vaki, Arunavati, Gomai and Aner

Peninsular Rivers of India

The Western Ghats are the primary source of the Peninsular Rivers of India or Peninsular Drainage. These rivers either flow eastward into the Bay of Bengal or westward into the Arabian Sea because the Western Ghats create a water split. Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery are referred to as the major Peninsular rivers of India.

They create deltas at their mouths as they flow eastward across the plateau, draining into the Bay of Bengal, as opposed to the Narmada and Tapti, which flow west and create estuaries into the Arabian Sea. The Peninsular rivers of India are supplied by rain.

Major Rivers of India in Himalayas (North India)

Indus, Yamuna, Ravi, Ganga, Chenab, Ghaghara, Beas, Gomati, Jhelum, and Sutlej, are the rivers of North India. These rivers of India are a perennial part of the Himalayan river system. The Rivers of Himalayas in North India and information about them are incorporated below.

1. Ganga River

The Ganga river system crosses Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet (China), and India. It is the largest river basin in India, making up around one-fourth of the entire country’s surface. Along with the Union Territory of Delhi, this list also includes the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand.

2. Yamuna River

These rivers of India come from either Bandarpoonch Peak in the Mussoorie range of the lower Himalayas or the southwest slopes of the Yamunotri Glacier. Before entering Delhi and joining the Ganga close to Triveni Sangam in Allahabad, it runs through Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana (Prayagraj).

Just past Kalsi, before the Yamuna leaves the hills, the greatest tributary of the Ganga in the northern plains combines with the river.

3. Gomati River

Gomati River, sometimes known as Gumti, is a tributary of the Ganges (Ganga) river in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state. Its source is in northern Uttar Pradesh, around 32 miles (51 km) east of Pilibhit. For the first 35 miles (56 km) of its course, These rivers of India intermittent before becoming perennial at the Joknai’s confluence.

4. Ghaghara River

The Ghaghara River, also known as the Karnali River in Nepal and the Mapcha Tsangpo in Tibet is a perennial river that flows across international borders. These rivers of India rise on the Tibetan Plateau’s northern Himalayan slopes pass through Nepal’s Himalayas and then merge with the Sharda River at Brahmaghat in India.

Tributaries of Indus River of India

The Indus has its origins in the northern Kailash range in Tibet, near Lake Manasarovar. It travels in a northwesterly direction through Tibet. Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej are the major Indus River tributaries in India.

One of the largest and most significant rivers in South Asia is the Indus River system. It starts close to Mount Kailash and runs through Tibet in a small valley into Tibet’s northwest, where it is known as Singi Khamban or the Lion’s Mouth. These rivers of India pass through Ladakh almost directly between the Ladakh and Zanskar ranges.

1. Jhelum River

A river in the northern Indian subcontinent is called the Jhelum River. It starts at Verinag and runs through the Jammu and Kashmir region, which is controlled by India, through Kashmir, which is administered by Pakistan, before entering the Punjab province of Pakistan.

2. Chenab River

One of the five important rivers in the Punjab region, the Chenab River runs through both Pakistan and India. It is created when two headwaters, Chandra and Bhaga, which originate in the upper Himalayas in the Himachal Pradesh region of India’s Lahaul, come together.

Before entering the Indus River, these rivers of India travel through the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, India, before crossing into the plains of Punjab, Pakistan.

3. Ravi

The Ravi River is a transboundary river that connects eastern Pakistan to northwestern India. One of the five rivers connected to the Punjab region is this one. The waters of the Ravi River and two other rivers were given to India as part of the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

The Indus Basin Project, which sends water from the western Indus River to Pakistan to replace the section of the Ravi River located there, was subsequently built.

4. Beas River

The Beas River originates in the Himalayas in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh’s central region and flows for about 470 kilometers (290 mi) to the Sutlej River in Punjab. On the southern face of Rohtang Pass in Kullu, these rivers of India rise 4,361 meters (14,308 feet) above sea level.

5. Sutlej River

The Sutlej or Satluj River, which flows through the historic crossroads region of Punjab in northern India and Pakistan, is the longest of the five rivers. The Satadru name for the Sutlej River is also used. It is the Indus River’s easternmost tributary.

Southern Rivers of India

The Southern rivers of India are Krishna, Godavari, Periyar, Bhima, Pennar, Tungabhandra, Palar, Kollidam, Ponnaiyar, and Cauvery. These rivers of India enter the peninsular region and are primarily fed by rainfall. Below is a list of the Southern Rivers of India and information about them.

Krishna River

With a length of 1400 km, the Krishna river is peninsular India’s second-largest river after the Godavari River. About 64 kilometers from the Arabian Sea, the Western Ghats in Maharashtra are where the river Krishna begins to rise. From the western ghats to the Bay of Bengal, these rivers of India follow the length of the peninsula.

Godavari River

The Godavari river is the third-longest river in India and the largest of the peninsular rivers. These rivers of India originate in the Western Ghats at an elevation of 1,067 m close to Trimbak Hills in Maharashtra’s Nasik district. Other names of the Godavari river are Vridha Ganga and Dakshin Ganga.

Periyar River

In the Indian state of Kerala, Periyar is the longest river in India and has the greatest capacity for discharge. One of the few perennial rivers in the area, it supplies drinking water to a number of significant communities. The Periyar is of paramount importance to Kerala’s economy.

Bhima River

A significant river in both South and Western India is the Bhima river. These rivers of India travel through the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Telangana for 861 kilometers (535 mi) before emptying into the Krishna River. A fertile agricultural region with dense habitation is formed by the banks after the first 65 kilometers in a small valley across tough terrain.

Pennar River

One of the southern rivers of India is the Penna River. The Nandi Hills serves as the source of the Penna River, which thereafter flows as two distinct streams, one in a northerly and one in a southern direction.

The Penna begins in the Nandi Hills in the Karnataka state district of Chikkaballapur, and it flows through Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh until emptying into the Bay of Bengal in Andhra Pradesh.

Tungabhadra River

The majority of the Tungabhadra River’s course is in the Indian state of Karnataka. It then passes through the border states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh until coming together with the Krishna River close to Gundimalla hamlet in the Jogulamba Gadwal district of Telangana.

Palar River

One of the southern rivers of India is the Palar River. It originates in the Nandi Hills in the Karnataka state’s Chikkaballapura district, flows through Karnataka for 93 kilometers, Andhra Pradesh for 33 kilometers, and Tamil Nadu for 222 kilometers, totaling 348 kilometers before meeting the Bay of Bengal at Vayalur, which is located about 75 kilometers south of Chennai.

Kollidam River

Kollidam is one of the southernmost rivers in India. The Kollidam is the Kaveri River’s northern distributary as it passes through Thanjavur’s delta.

At the island of Srirangam, these rivers of India diverge from the Kaveri River’s main branch and run eastward into the Bay of Bengal. The Kollidam distribution system is located on Lower Anaicut, a Kollidam river island.

Ponnaiyar River

In Tamil, the South Pennar River is referred to as Thenpennai and Dakshina Pinakini, respectively. It is also known by the name Ponnaiyar.

These rivers of India travel through Tamil Nadu before draining into the Bay of Bengal and have their source in the Nandi Hills in the Chikkaballapura district of Karnataka.

Cauvery River

The Ganga of the South is said to be the Cauvery, sometimes called the Ponni River. The western ghats’ Talakaveri, located 1341 meters above sea level in the Brahmagiri range in Karnataka’s Coorg district, is the source of the Cauvery River. The size of the Cauvery River Basin is 81,155 square kilometers.

Longest Rivers of India

The table below illustrates that Indus is the longest river in India, having a total length of 3180 km, and flows over 1114 km in India, followed by Brahmaputra, Ganga, and Godavari.

River Total Length (km) Length in India (km)
Indus 3180 km 1114 km
Brahmaputra 2900 km 916 km
Ganga 2525 km 2525 km
Godavari 1465 km 1464 km
Krishna 1400 km 1400 km
Yamuna 1376 km 1376 km
Narmada 1312 km 1312 km
Mahanadi 890 km 890 km
Kaveri 800 km 800 km
Tapti 724 km 724 km

Rivers of India UPSC

The list of rivers in India is a significant part of Indian geography, and it finds its relevance in the GS 2 Paper of UPSC Mains. Several questions have been asked about the geographical and origin specifications of the river system of India and updates with respect to it. Aspirants must analyze this topic properly to tackle all the questions asked in the UPSC exam.

Major Rivers of India MCQs

In order to answer all of the questions being asked on rivers of India, aspirants must carefully understand this topic. The following are a few examples of sample questions from the major rivers of India topic of the UPSC Mains exam:
Question: Which of these is the longest river bridge in India? (1) Dibang River Bridge, (2) Dhola Sadiya Bridge, (3) Mahatma Gandhi Setu, (4) Bogibeel Bridge
Answer: Dhola Sadiya Bridge

Question: Name two west flowing rivers of India. (1) Narmada and Tapti, (2) Subarnarekha and Cauvery, (3) Krishna and Mahanadi, (4) Godavari and Krishna
Answer: Narmada and Tapti

Question: Which of the following rivers does not flow through India? (1) Ravi, (2) Nile, (3) Beas, (4) Lohit
Answer: Nile

Question: Which is the longest river of peninsular India? (1) Godavari, (2) Cauvery, (3) Mahanadi, (4) Narmada
Answer: Godavari

UPSC Notes
Dances of India 7th Schedule of Indian Constitution UPSC Notes
Salient Features of Indian Constitution Viceroy of India
Dams in India Civil Disobedience Movement
Directive Principles of State Policy Ramsar Sites in India
Federalism UPSC Notes Types of Writs
Schedules of Indian Constitution Important Articles in Constitution India
Our Apps Playstore
SSC and Bank
Other Exams
GradeStack Learning Pvt. Ltd.Windsor IT Park, Tower - A, 2nd Floor, Sector 125, Noida, Uttar Pradesh 201303
Home Practice Test Series Premium