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Short Notes – Rivers & Drainage System of India – SSC, RRB & TNPSC Exams

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Short Notes - Rivers & Drainage System of India – SSC, RRB & TNPSC Exams

General Knowledge is one of the most loved by the candidates preparing for SSC CGL, Railways RRB like competitive exams for scoring good marks. The Candidates need to have sufficient knowledge of General Knowledge, Social Awareness and Current affairs to score good in such examinations.

So here we have provided a GK article on the Rivers & Drainage System of India to help you with the General Knowledge section of your exam. Today’s focus will be on Geography, specifically on the Rivers & Drainage System of India.

Rivers & Drainage System in India – Expected Questions PDF

Students who preparing for SSC, Railway, State PSC (TNPSC, Kerala PSc etc) are advised to read the content carefully and Download the Most expected Multi-choice Questions Material as Mobile Optimized PDF format at the end of this post.


The river is the biggest source of water. Rivers provide us water to drink, irrigation, electricity, cook, clean things and easy & cheap transportation.  It is also a source of fresh water that flows naturally towards an ocean, lake, sea or another river. Rivers flow in channels. The bottom of the channel is called the bed and sides of the channel are called the banks. Sometimes a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water.

Rivers begin at their source in the higher ground such as mountains or hills, where rainwater or melting snow collects and forms tiny streams. When one stream meets another and they merge together, the smaller steam is known as a tributary. It takes many tributary streams to form a river.

As a river flows, it carries along with material or debris, called its load. A river’s load includes rocks, stones, and other large particles, which are washed along the river bed.  Finer particles float in the water. A river grows larger as it collects water from more tributaries along its course.

The river ends at a mouth. In larger rivers, there is often also a wider floodplain shaped by flood waters over-topping the channel. Floodplains may be very wide in relation to the size of the river channel.

Important Rivers in World

There are so many rivers in all over the world. The rivers are determined by its length.  The River Nile is the longest river in the world. It measures 6,695 kilometers from its source Burundi, along the White Nile, to its delta on the Mediterranean Sea. Officially, the shortest river is the D River, Oregan, USA, which is just 37 meters long.

The biggest river in the world is the Amazon, measured by the amount of water that flows down in it. On average 120,000 cubic meters of water flows out of its mouth every second.

The longest river in Europe is the River Volga. It flows primarily in a southerly direction through Russia into the Caspian Sea.

Important Rivers in India

The important rivers of India are Ganga, Yamuna, Brahmaputra, Indus, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Narmada and Tapti.

Ganga: Ganga is the holiest river according to Hindu. It has started from the Gangotri in the Himalayas and poured into the Bay of Bengal by traveling of around 2525 km. It is the 3rd largest river in the world. There are a number of cities had been developed across the banks of Ganga like Pataliputra, Kashi, Allahabad, Varanasi, Kolkata, etc. It had also created the World’s largest delta in West Bengal named as Sundarban delta.

Yamuna: Yamuna River had originated from Yamunotri Glacier in the Himalayas, then travels across several states and merged into the Ganga at Triveni, Allahabad. Its total length is 1376 km. Yamuna River’s water contributed nearly 70% of Delhi’s water supply. The Taj Mahal is situated on the banks of Yamuna River.

Brahmaputra: Brahmaputra River is originated from Angsi Glacier, the northern Himalayas in Tibet, then entered into the Arunachal Pradesh to Assam and then merges with the Padma river in Bangladesh. Its length is around 2900 km and plays an important role in irrigation and transportation. It emptied into the Bay of Bengal.

Indus River: The Indus River is historically famous in Asia. It originated from the Tibetan Plateau and then flows through the Ladakh then entered into Pakistan and finally merge into the Arabian Sea after traveling a distance of 3180 km.

Mahanadi River: Mahanadi is a major river in the state of Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Mahanadi’s water is used in the irrigation and drinking purpose, it is also called the ruin of Orissa due to its devastating floods over the years but till Hirakud Dam was constructed. Its total length is 858 km.

Godavari: The Godavari is the longest river in southern India and 2nd largest in India after Ganga. It is originated from Maharashtra and flows through Andhra Pradesh, then merges into the Bay of Bengal after traveling a distance of 1465 km.

Krishna: The 3rd longest river in India after Ganga and Godavari, Krishna River which is originated from Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and flows through the state of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and finally merges into the Bay of Bengal by traveling a distance of 1400 km.

Kaveri: The Kaveri River is one of the large rivers in India which is originated from Talakaveri in the Western Ghats of Karnataka and flows through the states of Karnataka & Tamilnadu, finally merges into the Bay of Bengal by traveling a distance of 765 km.

Narmada: Narmada River is the 5th Longest in the Indian sub-continent. It is also called the Lifeline of Madhya Pradesh due to its huge contributions. Narmada River is originated from Narmada Kund, Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh and merges into the Arabian Sea near Gujarat after traveling a distance of 1312 km.

Tapti: Tapti River is one of the major rivers in Central India. Its total length is around 724 km which flows through the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra and finally merges into the Gulf of Cambay of Arabian Sea near Gujarat

Geography – Rivers & Drainage System of India

The flow of water through channels is called drainage. The network of such channels is known as the drainage system. On the basis of origin, an Indian drainage system is divided into – Himalayan rivers and Peninsular rivers.

Himalayan Rivers

The major Himalayan rivers are the Ganga, the Indus and the Brahmaputra.

These rivers are very long compared to the rivers of South India.

They are called perennial rivers as they are fed by both rainfall and the melting of snow.

Indus River System

It is also known as Sindhu river. Total length is 2880 km.

Source – Kailash Range, Tibet near Mansarovar Lake. Destination – Arabian Sea.

Panchnad – Jhelum (Vitasta), Chenab (Chandrabhaga), Ravi (Iravati), Beas (Bipasha) and Sutlej (Satadru).

ChenubBara Lacha PassDul Hasti
Ravi BeasRohtang Pass
SultujNear MansarovarGovind Sagar/Bhakra Nangal Dam

Ganga River System

Source – Gangotri glacier near Gomukh, Uttrakhand in the Kumaon Himalaya.

It is named as Bhagirathi here. At Devprayag, Alakananda joins Bhagirathi and becomes Ganga.

In Allahabad it is joined by the Yamuna, the largest tributary of Ganga, rising from Yamunotri glacier.

Left bank tributaries – Ramganga, Gandak, Kosi, Gharghara, Gomati.

Right bank tributaries – Son.

Kosi, a tributary, is flood prone. So it is known as “Sorrow of Bihar”.

Ganga flows through Uttrakhand, UP, MP, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand and WB.

It bifurcates into Bhagirathi and Hooghly in WB and Padma-Meghna in Bangladesh.

Ganga-Brahmaputra delta is the largest delta in the world.

Total length of Ganga – 2530 km.

Ganga Basin area is 9,51,600 sq. km.

The plain area from Haridwar to Ganga’s mouth is fertile with alluvial soil.


Source – Chemayung-Dung glacier near Mansarovar in Tibet.

In Tibet it is known as Tsangpo.

It turns SW near Namcha Barwa in Arunachal Pradesh and enters India as Dihang

Near Sadiya, Dihang enters into India where Dibang and Lohit join it to make Brahmaputra.

Finally it enters into Bangladesh as Jamuna and meets Padma to drain into Bay of Bengal.

Right bank tributaries – Subansiri, Kameng, Manas.

Left bank tributaries – Buri Dihang, Kameng.

Majuli is a large riverine island of Brahmaputra.

Total length of Brahmaputra is 2900 km.

Peninsular River Systems

Peninsular rivers are both west and east flowing.

Narmada and Tapi drain into Arabian Sea where Mahanadi, Godavari, Cauvery and Krishna drain into Bay of Bengal.

East flowing rivers form delta where west flowing rivers don’t form delta.

Narmada and Tapi are rift valleys.

MahanadiDandakaranya, Raipur, ChattishgarhHirakudLargest and longest river of Odisha
GodavariTrimbak plateau, Nasik, MaharashtraLargest river of South India Known as South Ganga
KrishnaMahabaleswar in MaharashtraNagarjuna SagarTributaries – Tungabhadra, Koyna, Ghatprabha, Bhima, Dudhganga.
KaveriTala Cauvery, Western Ghat Shivasamudram Waterfalls
NarmadaAmarkantak Plateau, MPNarmada Valley projectDuan Dhar falls. Flows through rift valley between Vindhayan and Satpura range
TapiMultai in Betul district, MPUkaiKnown as the twin of Narmada

Inter-State River Disputes - Rivers & Drainage System of India

Cauvery Water Dispute

Cauvery is an interstate river that originates in Karnataka and flows through Tamil Nadu and Puducherry before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

In 1892, the Cauvery agreement was made between Mysore state and other Princely states

In 1924, the agreement was renewed for another 50 years

In 1970, The Tamil Nadu government asked the Central government to set up a tribunal and in the same year, the Tamil Nadu Farmers Association filed a civil suit in the Supreme Court.

The Cauvery Water disputes tribunal was set up in the year 1990

The Tribunal passed an interim in the year 1991 ordering the state of Karnataka to release 205 thousand million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu from it’s reservoirs.

Karnataka refused to obey the order and after 16 years of hearing, another judgement was passed allocating 419 thousand million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu.

Karnataka again refused to obey the order and a case of contempt of court was filed against the state.

The matter is still under judicial view.

Satluj Yamuna Link Canal Issue

The dispute started when the state of Haryana was separated from Punjab in the year 1966

To enable Haryana to use its share of water from Sutlej and Beas, the construction of a canal was planned in the year 1982.

The construction was stopped in 1986 due to protests from Punjab

Haryana approached the Supreme Court for completing the construction of the canal in 2002. The court ordered Punjab to finish construction in 12 months.

In 2004, Punjab assembly passed a water sharing act which scrapped all its water sharing dues.

The Supreme Court declared this act as Unconstitutional 12 years later in 2016

The Centre has opted to act as a mediator in this case.

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