India is one of the top five countries in the world with favourable water resources (others are Canada, Brazil, Russia and Congo). Among the total water resources of the country, Indian rivers constitute the major share.The water in these rivers is used for various purposes including agriculture, production of electricity, storing water in dams and so on. Indian rivers are mainly divided into two types:




As the name suggests, these rivers originate from Himalayan Mountains. The sources of water are rainfall and melted snow. As they come from high altitudes they flow with high speed and have larger and deep courses. INDUS, GANGES, and BRAHMAPUTRA along with their respective tributaries are the main Himalayan Rivers.

Read Also: Water Resources of India


SOURCE: The Indus River rises in Tibet near Manas Sarovar Lake. Flowing westwards, it enters India in Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir.

COURSE: It flows through the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh andPunjab in India then enters Pakistan and flowing further south reaches the Arabian Sea, east of Karachi.

TRIBUTARIES: Zaskar, Nubra, Shyok, and Hunza are the tributaries in India. Ravi, Chenab, Sutlej, Jhelum, and Beas are the tributaries in Pakistan.

CHARACTERISTICS: The slope is very gentle and with 2900 km length, Indus River is one of the longest rivers in the world.


SOURCE:The Ganges River originates in Gangotri glacier as Bhagirathi and joined by Alaknanda at Devprayag, It turns into Ganga.

COURSE: The Ganga River enters plains in Haridwar and from there it flows eastwards enlarged by the tributaries joining from left and right. The river divides in West Bengal and the distributary Hooghly flows southward to reach the Bay of Bengal. The main river enters into Bangladesh and joins with Brahmaputra river.It covers the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

TRIBUTARIES: Yamuna River joins Ganga at Allahabad as a right bank tributary. Ghagra, Gandak and Kosi Rivers arising from Nepal Himalayas join as left bank tributaries. Chambal, Betwa and Son rivers from central Highlands join as right bank tributaries. It covers the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar

CHARACTERISTICS: The length is 2500 km and the slope is almost steep in the Himalayas and gentle in the plains. With more number of tributaries, the basin of the river is very huge.

Must Read: Important River Valley Project


SOURCE: The Brahmaputra River originates in Tibet to the east of Manas Sarovar Lake.

COURSE: The Brahmaputra River mostly flow outside India from the point of its origin and in the middle course, enters Arunachal Pradesh and later into Assam. Then, it flows eastwards into Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, Brahmaputra River is called as River Padma.

TRIBUTARIES: In Arunachal Pradesh Dibang, Lohit and Kenula Rivers are its tributaries.

CHARACTERISTICS:The length of the river is 2900 km and is one of the longest rivers of the world.


These rivers are confined to the peninsular region and are dependent on rainfall for water. Unlike Himalayan Rivers, these rivers are shorter with small basins. NARMADA, TAPI, GODAVARI, KRISHNA, CAUVERY and MAHANADI are the main rivers.


It originates in Amarkantak hills in Madhya Pradesh and flows towards the west to join the Arabian Sea. It covers the states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.


It rises in Madhya Pradesh and covering the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra join the Arabian Sea.

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It is known as DAKSHIN GANGA due to its area covered (over 1500 km). The Godavari River originates in Nasik in Maharashtra and covers the states of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh. Flowing eastwards, it joins in the Bay of Bengal.


It rises near MAHABALESHWAR in Maharashtra and covering an area of 1300 km, it flows through Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh and reaches the Bay of Bengal.


Cauvery River originates in the Western Ghats and covering an area of 760 km, it reaches the Bay of Bengal in Tamil Nadu. The states covered are Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Besides the above other rivers include Mahi, Sabarmati, Subarna Rekha and so on.


All the rivers in India, despite their location, are considered holy by the people. There is a proposal of interlinking all the Indian rivers in order to utilise the waste flowing water in drought areas.

Also, Read:

Rivers, Waterfalls, and Glaciers

Monsoon, Floods, and Droughts

Ken-Betwa Project : Panel warns of Ecological Harms


  1. Please correct the information…
    Godavari originates at Trimakeshwar (Sahyadris) Nashik and covers state of Maharashtra, Telangana, & Andhra Pradesh, (not Madhya Pradesh and Orissa) to reach Bay of Bengal.

    • Yes sir u r right that godavari basin originates in
      Trimekeahwar at Nasik district but it draining the Indian states (Maharashtra, Telengana,Andhra Pradesh, Chattisham, kerala, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh).

  2. plz make correction in the article.
    for Godavari river pathway from states.
    it is not going through m.p

  3. Laddakh is a region which have two district , kargil and leh , both are collectively called laddakh, suru river is also one of the major tributary of indus

  4. godavari bese to MP or ORISSA jati nhi h , or agar jati bhi hoti to MP se oriisa kya udkar jati agar galat info d hi rahe ho to CG bhi add kar lo .. nd ppl replying very good notes…

  5. Godavari :

    The river is 1,465 km long and ranks as the second longest river in the country (after the Ganges). The drainage basin of the river is present in six states of India: Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh , Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Orissa.

  6. In Bangladesh Bhramputra is known as jamuna, not padma. River ganga is known as padma in Bangladesh.

      • Mixed flow of Ganga & Brahmaputra in Bangladesh is known as Meghna. In Bangladesh, the main distributary of Ganga is known as Padma & Brahmaputra is knowns as Jamuna. Padma & Jamuna together create a flow named Meghna.

  7. Who owns rivers in India? Is it owned by center? What is the role of states in it? Is river water considered as natural resource when compared to other resources such as minerals, ores, oil and gas?

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