Drainage System of India

The flow of water through well- defined channels is known as drainage and the network of such channels is known as drainage system. The drainage pattern of...

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12th March,2020

The flow of water through well- defined channels is known as drainage and the network of such channels is known as drainage system. The drainage pattern of an area is the result of the geological condition, nature, rocks composition, topography, slope, etc. In India, there are more than 400 big and small rivers spread across the country. Here, in this blog we are providing all the necessary details related to Drainage System of India which will be very useful for various exams like UPSC, SSC, State PSCs, NDA, CDS, and Railways etc.

Drainage Pattern

As the river flows from its origin towards the ocean, it forms a lot of patterns. Following are the major drainage patterns formed during the course of a river:-

  1. Dendritic drainage pattern
  2. Radial drainage pattern
  3. Centripetal drainage pattern
  4. Trellis drainage pattern

  1. Dendritic drainage pattern :- This is a type of drainage pattern which looks like tree branches. These are formed in the rivers of northern plain.
  2. Radial drainage patterns :- This is a type of drainage pattern which is formed when rivers originate from a hill and flow in all directions. An example of Amarkantak. 
  3. Centripetal drainage pattern :- This is a type of drainage pattern which is formed when a river discharge its waters from all directions into a lake or a depression. For example, Loktak lake in Manipur.
  4. Trellis drainage pattern:- This is a type of drainage pattern which is formed when the primary tributaries of main rivers flow parallel to each other and secondary tributaries join them at right angles. These types of pattern are formed in northern region.

Classification of Drainage

Drainage system in India is classified on the basis of the mode of origin, nature, and characteristics, the Indian drainage is classified as −

  1. The Himalayan drainage and
  2. The Peninsular drainage.

Himalayan Drainage

It Is considered as one of the largest drainage systems in the world. Rivers are mainly originating from the great Himalaya. Major Himalayan drainage systems are the Indus, the Ganga, and the Brahmaputra rivers.


  1. To the Hindus, the Ganges is the most sacred river.
  2. The Ganges starts from Gangotri Glacier (Uttarakhand).
  3. The standard of the stream starts at the juncture of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda waterways at Devprayag (Uttarakhand).
  4. The river moves through the conditions of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and afterwards, enters Bangladesh.
  5. Real urban communities situated at the banks of the Ganges are – Rishikesh, Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Bhagalpur, Farakka Barrage (Malda).
  6. The total length that the Ganges covers during its voyage is 2,525 kilometers (1569 miles) before it releases in the Bay of Bengal.


  1. In contrast to different rivers of India, the Brahmaputra (Son of Brahma) is maybe the mainstream in India which has a male name.
  2. The rivers start from Angsi Glacier close Mansarovar Lake situated in Tibet, China, as Yarlung Tsangpo River and enter India through Arunachal Pradesh.
  3. It streams southwest through Assam Valley as the Brahmaputra before going into Bangladesh.
  4. Real tributaries of the Ganges are– The Yamuna, Son, Gomti, Ghaghara, Gandak, and Koshi.
  5. Significant Indian urban communities situated on the banks of Brahmaputra are – Dibrugarh and Guwahati.
  6. All out length of Brahmaputra is 3,848 Kilometers according to discoveries (prior length was assessed at 2,900 Kilometers). In any case, Brahmaputra streams just 916 Kilometers inside India.


  1. India is Derived from Indus (India is a Greek/Latin the expression for the nation of waterway Indus).
  2. Indus river begins close Lake Mansarovar and goes through zones of Ladakh, Gilgit, Baltistan before going into Pakistan.
  3. One of the most punctual urban human advancements – Indus Valley Civilization thrived other than Indus River.
  4. Significant tributaries of stream Indus are – Jansker, Soan, Jhelam, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas.
  5. Real Cities situated on the banks of Indus are – Leh, Skardu.
  6. The total length of the Indus River is 3,180 kilometers. In any case, Indus streams just 1,114 kilometers inside India.


  1. Yamuna - Like others on this rundown, Yamuna additionally begins from an ice sheet - explicitly the Yamunotri Glacier.
  2. The Yamuna at that point keeps on streaming for 1,376 km, where it supports the job of more than 50 million individuals.
  3. The Yamuna is remarkable for being the most significant river in the nation that does not ever stream to the ocean.
  4. It is one of the Ganges River's primary tributaries.

Peninsular River System

The Peninsular drainage system is older than the Himalayan Rivers. This drainage system is relatively smaller in comparison with Himalayan Drainage System. The characteristics of river channels of these rivers like the fixed course, absence of meanders, etc., indicates that these rivers are older than Himalayan rivers. Major rivers of this drainage system are as follows:-


  1. The Godavari also is known as 'Dakshin Ganga' – the South Ganges is the second-longest stream/river of India.
  2. It begins from Triambakeshwar, Nasik (Maharashtra), and goes through Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, before releasing into the Bay of Bengal.
  3. It covers an entire region of 1,465 kilometers during the adventure.
  4. Significant tributaries of waterway Godavari are –Banganga, Indravati, Purna, Pravara, and so on.
  5. Real urban communities situated at the banks of waterway The Godavari are – Nashik, and Rajahmundry.


  1. Krishna – the third-longest river in India – begins close to Mahabaleshwar (Maharashtra) and courses through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh, before releasing into the Bay of Bengal.
  2. It covers roughly 1,400 kilometers during its adventure.
  3. Significant tributaries are – Bhima, Panchganga, Dudhaganga, Ghataprabha, Tungabhadra, and so on.
  4. Sangli and Vijayawada are the real urban areas situated at the banks of this river.


  1. The Narmada – The Narmada flows through the central part of the nation.
  2. When considering streams that stream just completely inside India, the Narmada is the third-longest river of India, after the Godavari and the Krishna.
  3. The Narmada is one of a kind for the way that it streams westbound, not at all like numerous different waterways in the nation which stream eastbound.
  4. The Narmada is viewed as the holiest waterway in the nation.


  1. Mahanadi- Mahanadi River, a river in focal India, ascending in the slopes of south-eastern Chhattisgarh state.
  2. The Mahanadi ("Great River") pursues a complete the course of 858 kms and has an expected waste territory of 51,000 square miles (132,100 square km). 
  3. It is a standout amongst the most dynamic sediment saving streams in the Indian subcontinent. Its upper course runs north as an irrelevant stream, depleting the eastern Chhattisgarh Plain.
  4. In the wake of getting the Seonath River, beneath Baloda Bazar, it turns east and enters Odisha express, its stream enlarged by the seepage of slopes toward the north and south.
  5. At Sambalpur, the Hirakud Dam on the stream has shaped a human-made lake 35 miles (55 km) long; the dam  has a few hydroelectric generators. Underneath the dam Mahanadi turns south along a convoluted course, puncturing the Eastern Ghats through a woodland clad crevasse.
  6. Twisting east, it enters the Odisha fields close Cuttack and enters the Bay of Bengal at False Point by a few channels.
  7. The waterway supplies a few water system channels, for the most part, close Cuttack. Puri, at one of its mouths, is a renowned journey site.


  1. Kaveri - Kaveri River additionally spelled Cauvery, the holy waterway of southern India.
  2. It ascends on Brahmagiri Hill of the Western Ghats in southwestern Karnataka state, streams in a south easterly bearing for 475 miles (765 km) through the conditions of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and drops the Eastern Ghats in a progression of extraordinary falls.
  3. The Cauvery is a delightful stream in South India. The stream is adored as a goddess by the Hindus.
  4. Before purging into the Bay of Bengal south of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, the waterway breaks into countless distributaries shaping a vast delta called the "greenhouse of southern India."
  5. Known to faithful Hindus as Dakshina Ganga ("The Ganges of the South"), the Kaveri River is praised for its landscape and sacredness in Tamil writing and its whole course is viewed as a sacred place.

The following table illustrates the major differences between Himalayan and the Peninsular River system


Himalayan River

Peninsular River

Place of origin

Himalayan mountains (covered with glaciers).

Peninsular plateau and central highland.

Nature of flow

Perennial; receive water from glacier and rainfall.

Seasonal; dependent on monsoon rainfall.

Type of drainage

Antecedent and consequent leading to dendritic pattern in plains.

Super imposed, rejuvenated resulting in trellis, radial, and rectangular patterns.

Nature of river

Long course, flowing through the rugged mountains experiencing head ward erosion and river capturing; In plains, meandering and shifting off course.

Smaller, fixed course with welladjusted valleys.

Catchment area

Very large basin.

Relatively smaller basin.

Age of the river

Young and youthful, active and deepening in the valleys

Old rivers with graded profile, and have almost reached their base levels.

Few of the important topics related to Geography which would be very helpful for various Government exams are as below:-

  1. Landforms of India
  2. Climate of India
  3. Natural Vegetation and National Parks
  4. Types of Soils in India
  5. World Climate Zones
  6. Wildlife Sanctuaries in India
  7. List of Rivers in India
  8. Highest Mountain Peak in India
  9. List of National Park In India
  10. Biosphere Reserves in India
  11. UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India
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