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Indian Geography / Indian River System

South Indian Rivers

    South Indian rivers are those rivers that are flowing in the peninsular India. The most important rivers that are flowing in this part of India are Mahanadi, Godavari, Cauvery, Krishna, Narmada and Tapti. All the major rivers drain into the Bay of Bengal except Narmada and Tapti or Tapi.

    South Indian rivers are seasonal or ephemeral rivers and their source is mainly Monsoons. Only Cauvery is regarded as perennial river of Peninsular India because it receives rains from both South-West as well as North-East monsoons. Generally, the Peninsular rivers are called consequent rivers because here the topography is formed first and channels are formed next. These are old or mature rivers having meandering course. The inflows in these rivers is less and Damming is relatively easier on these rivers.

    Major Rivers of Peninsular India

    • River Godavari

      • Godavari river originates in Trimbak near Nasik. It is also called Vridha Ganga or Dakshin Ganga. It is the biggest of the South Indian rivers and is the second largest river in India next only to river Ganga, having a total length of 1465 km.

      • The catchment area of Godavari is highest in Maharashtra having a share of 48.6%. The other states it covers are Telangana (18.8%), Madhya Pradesh (10.0%), Chhattisgarh (10.9%), Odisha (5.7%), Andhra Pradesh (4.5%) and Karnataka (1.4%).

      • Its important left bank tributaries are Pranahita, Indravati, Sabari, Sileru, etc. and important right bank tributaries are Pravara, Sindphana, Manjira, Kinnerasani, etc. Rivers Wardha, Penganga and Wainganga confluence together to form Pranahita, which remains the biggest tributary of Godavari.

      • Beyond Rajahmundry, river Godavari splits into 2 streams named Vriddha Gautami and Vasishta. Again the Vriddha Gautami splits into two streams namely, Gautami and Nilarevu and Vasishta branch splits into 2 streams namely, Vasishta and Vainateya.
    • River Kishna

      • The source of river Krishna is Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra. The river runs through the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

      • Its important left bank tributaries are Bhima, Dindi, Musi, Paleru, Munneru, etc. and important right bank tributaries are Koyna, Ghataprabha, Malaprabha, Tungabhadra, etc. Tungabhadra remains the largest tributary of Krishna.

      • It joins Bay of Bengal at Hamsaladeevi in Andhra Pradesh.
    • River Mahanadi

      • The source of Mahanadi is Sihawa Range in Raipur district of Chhattisgarh and drains into Bay of Bengal near False Point in Odisha. The river flows Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The famous Hirakud Dam in Sambalpur is located on this river.

      • Its important left bank tributaries are Hasdeo, Seonath, Ib, etc. and right bank tributaries are Jonk, Ong, Tel, which is the largest tributary.
    • River Cauvery

      • It originates near Talakaveri in Brahmagiri hills in Karnataka. It descends the plateau through a waterfall at Shivasamudram in Karnataka. It merges with Bay of bengal in Kaveripattinam in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.

      • Cauvery flows through the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The upper catchment area of Cauvery receives rainfall by South-West monsoon in summer and the lower catchment area by North-East monsoon in winter. Hence, it is perennial in nature. Cauvery is regarded as "Dakshin Gangotri".

      • The left bank tributaries are Harangi, Hemavati, Shimsha, Arkavati, Lokapavani, etc. The right bank tributaries are Lakshmana Tirtha, Kabini, Suvarnavathi, Bhavani, Amravati, etc.
    • River Narmada

      • It is the largest river flowing towards west. Its source of origin is Amarkantak plateau in Madhya Pradesh and it runs through Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

      • It flows through the rift valley between Vindhya and Satpura ranges and emerges into the plains in Gujarat and joins in the Gulf of Khambhat ( part of Arabian Sea ) near Bharuch city of Gujarat.

      • Hiran, Barna, Kolar, Choral, etc. are its right bank tributaries and Sher, Shakkar, Dudhi, Tawa ( largest tributary ) are its left bank tributaries. Alia Bet is the largest island formed by river Narmada.
    • River Tapti

      • River Tapti is the second largest west flowing river after Narmada. It is also known as "The Handmaid" or "The Twin" of Narmada.

      • It raises near Multai in Betul Plateau of Madhya Pradesh. It runs through Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

      • Its tributaries include Poorna ( largest tributary ), Amaravati, Arunavati, Gomai, etc.

    Other Important Rivers in Indian Peninsula

    • In between Mahanadi delta and Hooghly Delta, there exits three important rivers namely, (i) Brahmani, which comes into existence by the confluence of the Koel and Sankh rivers near Rourkela in Odisha, (ii) Baitarani and (iii) Subarnarekha, which forms the boundary between West Bengal and Odisha. Jamshedpur steel city is located on the banks of River Subarnarekha.

    • South of Cauvery in Tamil Nadu, Vaigai river is located. It is the southernmost major river in the South Indian rivers, on the banks of which the city of Madurai is located.

    • River Sabarmati rises from the hills of Mewar in the Aravali Range and runs through the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

    • Luni remains the largest river system of Rajasthan. Its source lies in the west of Ajmer in the Aravallis. It is lost into the Rann of Kutch.

    • Coastal Drainage System - Rivers Mandovi, Zuari and Rachol in Goa, Sharavati in Karnataka and Pamban and Idukki in Kerala are the western coastal rivers which are rich in Hydro power potential. Harnessing them for irrigation is very difficult. These are parallel drainage systems.