Himalayan Drainage System – Ganga Brahmaputra River

Himalayan Drainage System

  • It consists of river originating in the Himalayas and Trans Himalayan region. It further consists of three river systems namely –
          • Ganga
          • Brahmaputra
          • Indus

Ganga River System

The Ganga Above all, is the river of India which has held India’s heart captive and drawn uncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history. The story of the Ganga from her source to the sea, from old times to new, is the story of India’s civilization and culture.”

 – Jawaharlal Nehru (Discovery of India)

  • The Ganga River system is the largest in India having number of perennial and non-perennial rivers originating in Himalaya in north and the peninsular plateau in the south respectively.
  • It accounts for about 27% of geographical area of the country and a shared by 10 state.
  • Ambala is located on the water divide between Indus and Ganga.

 Ganga Brahmaputra river system

Major River Of Ganga River System



Bhagirathi (Ganga)

Gangotri glacier


Yamunotri glacier on Banderpunch peak


Janapav Hills in vindhya range


Aravalli range


Bhopal district


Barner range


Amarkantak plateau


Chota Nagpur Plateau


Garhwal district of Uttarakhand


Gurla Mandhota peak, south of Mansarovar in Tibet


Glaciers of Trans Himalaya


Tibet Nepal border

Burhi Gandak  

Sumesar Hills near India Nepal


Tumar, Arun and Sun Kosi unite at Triveni, north of the Mahabharat range to form the Kosi.


The Ganga


      • Originates at Gangotri glacier near Gaumukh in Uttar Kashi district as Bhagirathi in Uttarakhand at an elevation of 7010 m.
      • Alaknanda River joins Bhagirathi at Dev Prayag.
      • From Dev Prayag it is known as Ganga.
      • Major tributaries of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river
            • Alaknanda
              • East Trisul joins at Karan Prayag
              • Pindar rises from Nanda Devi
              • Mandakini or Kaliganga joins at Rudra Prayag
              • Dhauliganga
              • Bishenganga
            • Bhagirathi
              • Bheling
        • Total length of Ganga River from its source to its mouth is 2525 km.

River Course

      • Ganga enters from hills into plains at Haridwar.
      • From here, it flows in in south and southeast direction for about 770 km to reach Prayagraj. Here it is joined by Yamuna at Triveni Sangam.
      • From there it covers a distance of about 300 km to reach Bihar plains
      • Near Rajmahal hills it turns to south east.
      • At Farakka, it bifurcates into Bhagirathi-Hugli in West Bengal and Padma-Meghna in Bangladesh. (It ceases to be known as Ganga after Farraka).
      • Brahamputra known as Jamuna in Bangladesh joins Meghna-Padma there.
      • The river finally discharge itself into Bay of Bengal near Sagar Island.

Ganga Brahamputra Delta

      • Before entering Bay of Bengal the Ganga-Brahamputra forms the largest delta of the world between Bhagirathi-Hugli and Padma-Meghna covering an area of 58752 sq. Km.
      • The coastline of delta is highly indented area.
      • The delta is made up of web of distributaries and islands are covered of dense forests.
      • A major part of Delta is low lying swamp which is flooded by marine water during high tides.

Tributaries of Ganga River System

      • Right bank tributaries
        • Son, Yamuna
      • Left Bank tributaries
        • Ramganga, Gomati, Ghaghra, Gandak, Kosi, Mahananda

Tributaries of Ganga,Tributaries of Yamuna, Tributaries of Brahamaputra

Tributaries of Ganga River System (Right Bank)


Tributaries of Ganga River (Right Bank)


Origin and course












  • Origin – Originates from Yamunotri glacier from Banderpunch peak in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand at an elevation of about 6000
  • It cuts through Nag Tibba, the Mussoorie and the Shiwalik.
  • Emerges out of hilly area and enters Plains here.
  • Takes southerly course upto Mathura and then turns South east upto Prayagraj.
  • Unites with Ganga near Triveni Sangam Prayagraj.
  • Total Length – from origin to Prayagraj is 1376 km.
  • Creates highly fertile alluvial plain.

Tributaries of Yamuna –

Non Peninsular

      • Rishi Ganga
      • Uma
      • Hanuman Ganga
      • Tons
      • Hindon


      • Chambal
      • Sind
      • Betwa
      • Ken
      • (most of these flows between Agra and Prayagraj)

  • Westernmost and longest tributary of Ganga
  • Joins Ganga at Prayag.
  • Creates highly fertile Alluvial, Yamuna Ganga doab region between itself and Ganga in the Indo gangetic plain.
  • Only Himalayan River to join on right Bank of Ganga.






Tributaries of Yamuna




  • Origin – Rises from Banderpunch glacier at an altitude of 3900 m

  • Joins Yamuna below Kalsi before Yamuna leaves the hills.








  • Origin – Rises in highland of Janapav Hills (700m) in Vindhya Range, Mhow, MP.
  • Flows through Malwa plateau and afterwards enters the gorge at Chaurasigarh upto Kota.
  • Joins Yamuna in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • River flows much below its Bank due to severe erosion because of poor rainfall and numerous deep ravines have been formed in
  • Total Length – 1050 km

 Dams on Chambal

Gandhi Sagar dam – first of four dams, located on Rajasthan – Madhya Pradesh border.


Rana Pratap Sagar Dam – located 52 km downstream of Gandhi Sagar dam on across the Chambal River near Chittorgarh district in Rajasthan.


Jawahar Sagar Dam – located 29 km upstream of Kota city and 26 km downstream of Rana Pratap Sagar dam.


The Kota Barrage – fourth in series, located about 0.8 km upstream of Kota district.


Water released after power generation at Gandhi Sagar dam, Rana Pratap Sagar dam, Jawahar Sagar dam is diverted by Kota barrage for irrigation in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh by canals.



  • Chambal ravines – recent geological uplift poor rainfall and resulting sever erosion have given rise to numerous ravines and Badlands topography in Chambal basin.








  • Origin – Originates in southern part of Aravalli hills.
  • Joins Chambal on Rajasthan – Madhya Pradesh border near Sawai Madhopur.
  • Total Length

  • Important tributary of Chambal.





  • Origin- Originates in Vidisha Plateau of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Total Length – 415 km

  • Joins Yamuna.





  • Origin – Rises in Bhopal district in Vindhya Range at elevation of 470 m.
  • Total Length – 590 km
  • The Dhasan is its important tributary.

  • Joins Yamuna near Hamirpur, UP.





  • Origin – Originates from Barner range of MP.
  • Joins Yamuna at Chila.
  • Total Length – 360  km

  • Joins Yamuna at Chila.







  • Origin – Rises in Amarkantak plateau at an elevation of about 600 m.
  • Source is close to the origin of Narmada River.
  • Flows north from Origin and Passes along Kaimur range in north east direction.
  • Joins Ganga at Danapur district of Bihar.
  • Total Length – 784 km.
  • Important tributaries – Johilla, Gopat, Rihand, Kanhar and North Koel. Almost all joins at right bank.

  • After forming series of waterfalls at the edge of Amarkantak plateau, it reaches Arrah west of Patna to join Ganga.








  • Origin – Rises in the Hills of Chota Nagpur Plateau and flows through rift valley.
  • Rich in mineral resources.
  • It has numerous tributaries and sub tributaries – Konar, Barakar, Bokaro and Haharo etc.
  • Barakar is most important tributary.
  • It used to cause devastating flood in Bengal as a result it earned the name of ‘sorrow of Bengal’. Now, the river is tamed by construction of numerous dams.
  • First dam on Barakar River, tributary of Damodar.
  • It joins Hugli River 48 km below Kolkata.
  • Total Length – 541 km.
  • Dams used for hydroelectricity, hence, called ‘Ruhr of India’.

  • Rich in mineral resources, home to mining and industrial activities.
  • Once known as sorrow of Bengal the Damodar River has
    transformed into life giving lifeline of large scale industrial production by Damodar valley corporation multipurpose project.
  • Dams are used for hydroelectricity hence now called as Ruhr of India.



Tributaries of Ganga River System (Left Bank)


Tributaries of Ganga River (Left Bank)


Origin and course







  • Origin – Rises in Garhwal district of Uttarakhand
  • Enters Ganga plains at Kakagarh.
  • The Tributaries are – Gangan, Aril, Kosi, Deoha etc.

  • Tributary of Ganga.





  • Origin – Source near Gurla Mandhata peak, south of Mansarovar Peak in Tibet.
  • Known as Karnaili in Western Nepal.
  • Important Tributaries – Sarda, Sarju and Rapti.
  • After reaching plain area, its stream gets divided
    into many branches of which Koriyab and Garwa are important.
  • River bed is sandy and sudden bends start occurring in stream.
  • River has high flood frequency and has shifted its course several times.
  • It joins Ganga at Chhapra in Bihar few Km downstream

  • Joins Ganga at Chhapra





  • Origin – Rises in high glaciers of Trans Himalaya.
  • Forms the boundary between Nepal and Uttarakhand.
  • Known as Sarda after it reaches the plains near

  • Tributary of Ganga.






  • Origin – Originates near Tibet Nepal Border at the height of 7620 m.
  • Receives large no. of tributaries in Nepal Himalaya.
  • Its important tributaries – Kali, Gandak, Mayangadi, Bari, Trishulli.
  • Enters Ganga plains in Champaran district of Bihar.

  • Flows in Ganga in Hajipur, Bihar.
  • It comprises of two streams namely Kaligandak and Trishulganga.



Burhi Gandak


  • Origin– Originates from western Slopes of Sumesar Hills near India Nepal Border.
  • Joins Ganga near Monghyr town.

  • Tributary of Ganga.







  • Origin – Originates in the north of Mt. Everest in Tibet.
  • Consist of seven streams namely Sut Kosi, Tamba Kosi, Talka, Doodh Kosi, Botia Kosi, Arun and Tambar. It is also popularly known as SuptaKoshi in Nepal.
  • These streams flow through eastern Nepal which is known as Sapt Kaushik region.
  • The source receives huge rainfall and is covered by snow. Hence huge amount of water flow tremendously.
  • Seven streams mingle with each other to form three streams named Tumar, Arun and Sun Kosi.
  • Rivers enters Tarai of Nepal after cutting a narrow gorge in Mahabharat range.
  • Soon after debouncing into plains the river become sluggish.
  • It joins Ganga at

  • The river channel is braided and it shift its course frequently.
  • This has resulted in frequent devastating flood and has converted large tract of cultivable land into wasteland in Bihar. Thus, the river is named as ‘Sorrow of Bihar’.




Sarda or Saryu


  • Origin – Rises in Milan glacier in Nepal Himalaya.

  • Forms border between Nepal and Kumaon.
  • It is known as Goriganga in Nepal Himalaya. Along Indo Nepal border known as Kali or Chowk where it joins Ghaghra.






  • Origin – Rises in Darjeeling Hills

  • Joins Ganga as its last left bank tributary in West Bengal.


Brahamputra River System

  • Brahamputra (meaning – the Son of Brahama)
  • Total length 2500 km

Brahamputra River , Brahmaputra river system, Brahmaputra and its tributaries, Indian drainage system, North indian rivers


      • Originates in Chemayungdung Glacier of the Kailash range near Mansarovar Lake. Mariam La separates the source of Brahamputra with the Mansarovar Lake.
      • Its source is very close to the source of Indus and Satluj.

River Course

      • Most of river course lies in Tibet. In Tibet it flows eastward in Southern Tibet for about 1800 km.
      • It passes through the depression formed by the Indus-Tsangpo structure zone between Greater Himalaya and Kailash range in South and north respectively.
      • The Tsangpo has gentle slope inspite of high altitude. The river is sluggish and has a wide navigable channel for about 640 km.
      • Receives large number of tributaries in Tibet. First major tributary is the Raga Tsangpo meeting in Tsangpo near Latse Dzong.
      • The river Ngangchu flows through the trade centre of Gyantse in South and joins the main river.
      • Towards the end of its journey in Tibet, its course abruptly takes a south ward turns around Namcha Barwa (7756 m) (syntaxial bend).
      • Here, it cuts across the eastern Himalaya through the Dihang or Siang Gorge and emerges from the mountains near Sadiya in Assam Valley.

Brahamputra River System

      • Here it flows with the name of Siong and then as Dihang.
      • In north eastern part of Assam valley it is joined by two important tributaries – Dihang from the north and Lohit from the south.
      • From Sadiya (Assam valley) onwards, this mighty river is known as Brahmaputra.
      • The main stream merging with the Brahmaputra from the north are Subansiri, Kameg, Dhansiri, Raidak, Tista etc.
      • The Tista was tributary of Ganga prior to flood of 1787 afterwards it diverted its course eastwards to joins Brahmaputra.
      • The Brahmaputra has braided channels (flows into shallow interconnected channels divided by deposited earth) for most of its passage through Assam, where channels keep shifting. It carries lot of slit and hence excessive meandering happens.
      • The river is nearly 16 km wide at Dibrugarh and forms many islands, the most important of which MANJULI. It is 90 km long and 20 km wide at its widest.

Manjuli island, Largest river island of the world, Manjuli island, Brahmaputra, Brahmaputra river basin

      • With rainfall concentrated during monsoon month only the river has to carry enormous quantity of water and silt which result in disastrous flood. Thus, Brahmaputra is truly river of Sorrow.
      • The river is navigable for a distance of 1384 km upto Dibrugarh from its mouth and serves as an excellent inland water transport route.
      • It bends southwards and enters Bangladesh near Dhubri.
      • It flows for a distance of 270 km in the name of Jamuna river and joins Ganga at Goalundo and afterwards known as Padma.
      • Further downstream it is joined by Meghna on left bank originating from mountainous region of Assam.
      • From the confluence of Meghna and Padma, the combined river is known as Meghna which makes a very broad estuaries before pouring into Bay of Bengal.

Other Names of Brahmaputra

      • Tibet – Tsangpo
      • China – Yarlung, Zangbo, Jiangin
      • Assam – Dihang or Siang, south of Sadiya as Brahmaputra
      • Bangladesh – Jamuna river

Padma River – combined water of Ganga and Brahmaputra

Meghna River – from the confluence of Padma and Meghna

Tributaries of Brahmaputra

      • Left Bank Tributaries

Burhi Dihang, Dhansiri, Kalang

      • Right Bank Tributaries

Subansiri, Kameng, Manas, Sankosh


That’s all about Ganga-Brahamputra River System.

In the next post (Click here), we would study in detail about West Flowing Peninsular Rivers.

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