Drainage a total channel length of 2,880

Drainage Patterns and Drainage system of

Drainage is
basically surface flow of water. Surface drainage in India is major source of

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Division of Indian Drainage System on the Basis of Origin

(1)   The
Himalayan river system including Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganga and their

(2)   The
Peninsular river system which include Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery,
Narmada, Tapi and their tributaries.

Division of Indian Drainage system on the basis of Orientation towards the

(1)   The
Bay of Bengal drainage

(2)   The
Arabian sea drainage.

Bay of Bengal drainage system consists around 77% of
drainage area while The Arabian Sea Drainage system consist of approximately
23%. Rivers like Ganga, Brahmaputra, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery, Penneru,
Vaigai etc. are part of Bay of Bengal System while Major Rivers like Indus,
Narmada, Tapi, Sabarmati, Mahi and large number of swift flowing western coast
rivers are part of Arabian Sea Drainage System.

Division of
Indian Drainage System on the basis of Size of the Catchment area.

Major river basins -catchment area of 20,000 sq
km and above.

Medium river basins have catchment area between
2,000 and 20,000 sq km and

Minor river basins- catchment area less than
2,000 sq km.


Himalayan drainage system mainly comprises the basin areas
of the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. These rivers are, in their
youthful stage carving out deep gorges, V-shaped valleys, rapids and water
falls in their mountain reaches.


The Indus

The Indus originates from a glacier near Bokhar
Chu in the Tibetan region east of Mt. Kailas .

It flows north-west in the trans-Himalayan
region and cuts across the Ladakh Range forms a spectacular gorge near Gilgit.

It has a total channel length of 2,880 km which
makes it one of the largest river systems of the world.

The Indus flows in India only through the Leh
district in Jammu and Kashmir.

It finally discharges into the Arabian Sea, east
of Karachi.

Tributaries of Indus- Such as the Shyok, the Gilgit, the
Zaskar, the Hunza, the Nubra, the Shigar, the Gasting and the Dras.

The Panjnad is the name given to the five rivers of Punjab
which are also part of Indus River System, namely the Satluj, the Beas, the
Ravi, the Chenab and the Jhelum.


The Chenab originates from near the Bara Lacha
Pass in the Lahul-Spiti part of the Zaskar Range.

It is the largest tributary of the Indus.

At an altitude of 4900m, two small streams on
opposite sides of the pass, Chandra and Bhaga, form headwater, which join at
Tandi near Keylong in Himachal Pradesh.




























Jhelum, rises from a spring at Verinag situated
at the foot of the Pir Panjal.

Flowing through the Wular lake it makes a deep
gorge at Basmangal near Pakistan border and finally joins the Chenab at Trimmu.


Ravi has its source in Kullu hills near the Rohtang
Pass in Himachal Pradesh.

Flowing in the northwest direction, it drains
the area lying between the Pir Panjal and the Dhauladhar ranges. It enters
Punjab plains near Madhopur and enters Pakistan 26km south of Amritsar.

It debouches into Chenab at Sarai Sindhu near


It originates near the Rohtang Pass, at a height
of 4,062 m, on the southern end of the Pir Panjal Range, close to the source of
the Ravi.

Beas river flows through the Kullu valley and
forms gorges at Kati and Lorji in the Dhauladhar range.


The Satluj rises from the Manasarovar-Rakas Lakes
near Darma Pass in western Tibet.

It flows almost parallel to the Indus for about
400 km before entering India through the Shipki La Pass.

It has created a 900 m deep gorge in Nari
Khorsan province of Tibet.

Its main tributary Spiti joins it at Namgia.

It is a very important river as it feeds the
canal system of the Bhakra Nangal project

Table- Indus
Drainage System



Length (km)


Near Manasarovar Lake



Verinag Spring



Bara Lacha Pass



Near Rohtang Pass



Near Rohtang Pass at 4,062m height



Manasarovar-Rakas Lake



Water Treaty
Signed by India and Pakistan in 1960.
India has got the exclusive right of utilizing
the waters of three eastern most rivers (Satluj, Beas and Ravi) of the Indus
system and Pakistan for the remaining three western rivers (after meeting the
needs of Jammu and Kashmir)



Ganga is formed by the confluence of the Bhagirathi and the
Alaknanda at Deva Prayag.


The Ganga originates as Bhagirathi from the
Gangotri glacier in Uttar Kashi District of Uttarakhand at an elevation of
7,010 m.

Alaknanda, the other headstream of Ganga, has
its source in the Satopanth glacier near Badrinath.

The Alaknanda consists of the Dhauli and the
Vishnu Ganga which meet at Joshimath.


The Yamuna has a length of 1,384 km.

It is the most important tributary of the Ganga.

It rises on the western slopes of Bandarpunch
(6316 m) in the Yamnotri glacier and runs almost parallel to Ganga to join the
latter at Prayag (Allahabad).


Ramganga originates near Gairsain in the Lesser
Himalayas and flows through Corbett National Park before its confluence with
Ganga near Farrukhabad.

It has a length of 600Km.


Rises from Signar Chauri Peak (843 m) near Mhow
and flowing through Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh joins the
Yamuna near Etawah.

The Banas is an important tributary of the


Rises in the hills of the Chotanagpur plateau
and flows through a rift valley.

It used to cause devastating floods due to which
it was called  ‘Sorrow of Bengal’.


The Son river springs from the Amarkantak
Plateau, near by the origin of the Narmada.


The Ghaghra river originates near the Gurla
Mandhata peak, south of Manasarovar in Tibet.


rises in the high glaciers of the trans-Himalaya.

It has several feeders in the high ranges and
forms the boundary between Nepal and Kumaon.

 It is
known as the Sarda or Chauka after it reaches the plains near Tanakpur.


The Kosi river consists of even streams
namely Sut Kosi, Tamba Kosi, Talkha, Doodh Kosi, Botia Kosi, Arun and Tamber
and is popularly known as Saptkaushiki.



Length (in km)


Gangotri Glacier at 7, 010 m



Yamnotri Glacier at 6, 330m



Near Mhow (Madhya Pradesh)



Garhwal district at 3, 110m



Near Gurla
Mandhota peak south of



Tibet-Nepal border at 7 ,620 m

425 in India


Sikkim-Nepal-Tibet Himalaya

730 in India

Table-Ganga River System




Brahmaputra is Known as the Tsangpo (meaning ‘The
Purifier’), in Tibet. The Brahmaputra is well-known for floods, channel
shifting and bank erosion. This is due to the fact that most of its tributaries
are large, and bring large quantity of sediments owing to heavy rainfall in its
catchment area.


The Brahmaputra has a braided channel for most
of its passage through Assam. There is a constant shifting of the river

Major left bank tributaries: Burhi Dihing, Noa Dihing,
Dhansiri (South), Dibru, Dikhu, and Kalang

Right bank tributaries: Subansiri, Kameng, Dhansiri
(north), Manas, and Sankosh.

The Brahmaputra enters Bangladesh near Dhubri
and flows southward.

In Bangladesh, the Tista joins it on its right
bank from where the river is known as the Jamuna.

It finally merges with the river Padma, which
falls in the Bay of Bengal


Evolution of the peninsular drainage

Three major geological events in the distant past have
shaped the present drainage systems of Peninsular India:

Subsidence of the western flank of the Peninsula
leading to its submergence below the sea during the early tertiary period.

Upliftment of the Himalayas when the northern
flank of the peninsular block was subjected to subsidence and the consequent
trough faulting.

Slight tilting of the Peninsular block from
northwest to the southeastern direction gave orientation to the entire drainage
system towards the Bay of Bengal.


It rises near Sihawa in Raipur district of
Chhattisgarh and runs through Orissa to discharge its water into the Bay of

Left Bank Tributaries- Mand, Hasdo and Sheonath

Right Bank Tributaries- Ong, Jonk, and Tel


It is the largest peninsular river.

It is also called the Vridha Ganga or the
Dakshin Ganga.

It rises from the Triambak plateau in the Nasik
district of Maharashtra and discharges its water into the Bay of Bengal.

Right bank tributary- Manjra (724 km).

Left bank tributaries-Penganga, the Ware/ha, the
Wainganga, the Indravati and the Sabari


Krishna is the second largest east flowing peninsular river which rises
near Mahabaleshwar.

Major Tributaries: The Koyna, the Muneru, the Ghatprabha,
the Malprabha, the Tungbhadra, the Musi, and the Bhima.

Koyna is a small tributary of Krishna River which
is famous for Koyna Dam which led to Reservoir induced seismicity in 1967.

On the banks of Musi, city of Hyderabad is


It rises from Taal Kaveri in Brahmagiri hills in

About 3 per cent of the Kaveri basin falls in
Kerala, 41 per cent in Karnataka and 56 per cent in Tamil Nadu.

Major Tributaries:-Herangi, Hemavati, Lokpavani, Shimsha
and Arkavati from the north and Lakshamantirtha, Kabini, Suvarnavati, Bhavani
and  Amravati from south.

The Narmada System

The Narmada, is the largest west flowing river
of the peninsula, originates on the western flank of the Amarkantak plateau.

The river is navigable in its lower course.

Tapi (Tapti)

The Tapti rises near Multai in Betul district.

It is 724 km long.

About 79% of its basin area lies in Maharashtra,
15% in Madhya Pradesh and 6% in Gujarat.

Major Tributaries-The Puma, Gima, Panjara and Aner are
its main tributaries.

The Kakrapara and the Ukai projects have been
launched to harness the Tapi water.


Rises in the Pushkar valley of the Aravallis and
flowing parallel to and west of the Aravallis ends.

The river contains water during rainy season

flowing rivers

Major west flowing rivers of peninsular India-
Narmada and Tapi.


West flowing Rivers of Goa -Mandovi, Zuari and Rachol;

West flowing rivers of Karnataka
-Gangavalli-Bedti, Sharavati and Netravati.

West flowing Rivers of  Kerala -Beypore, Pannam, Bharatapuzha,
Periyar and Pamba.

Pamba river falls in the Vambanad lake after
traversing a course of 177 km.

Bharathapuzha is the longest river of Kerala, which
rises near Annamalai hills.


Small Rivers Flowing towards East

Subarnrekha, Baitarni, Brahmani, Vamsadhara, Penner, Palar
and Vaigai are important rivers.

Subarnarekha river originates from the Ranchi
Plateau in Jharkhand.

The Brahmani river comes into existence by the
confluence of the Koel and the Sankh rivers near Rourkela.

Penner (Penneru) (length 560 km) rises from Nandi hills in Chikballarpur district of Kamataka.


between Himalayan River System and Peninsular River System


The Himalayan River System

The Peninsular River System


rivers originate from Himalayan ranges.

rivers originate in the Peninsular Plateau.


Basin and catchment areas.

rivers have small basins and catchment areas.


through deep valleys called gorges.

Peninsular rivers flow in comparatively shallow valleys.

Flow of Water

The Himalayan rivers are
perennial in nature.

Peninsular rivers receive water only from rainfall und water flows in these
rivers in rainy season only.


These rivers flow across the
young fold mountains und are still inn youthful stage

rivers have been flowing in one of the 
oldest plateaus of the world and have reached maturity.


The upper reaches of the
Himalayan rivers are highly tortuous.

hard rock surface and non-alluvial character of the plateau permits little
scope for the formation of meanders

Deltas and Estuaries

Himalayan rivers form big deltas at their mouths. The Ganga-Brahmaputra delta
is the largest in the world.

rivers likeNarmada and the Tapi form estuaries. Rivers such as the Mahanadi,
the Godavari form Deltas






It is the pattern formed by the streams, rivers, and lakes
in a particular drainage basin.

Types of Drainage Pattern

Dendritic Drainage System

Dendritic drainage systems are the most common
form of drainage system.


In a dendritic system, there are many contributing streams which are
analogous to the twigs of a tree.

This pattern develops in a variety of structural
and lithological environments such as in the mountainous and hilly areas (e.g.
dendritic pattern is one of the dominant patterns in the Himalayas), on
extensive plateau surface (e.g. Deccan plateau), in the alluviated plains (e.g.
Great Plains of North India), in the desert plains (e.g. Rajasthan desert), in
the glaciated lowland regions.

Parallel drainage system


Parallel drainage pattern comprises numerous rivers which are
parallel to each other and follow the regional slope.

This system forms on uniformly sloping surfaces,
for example, rivers flowing southeast from the Aberdare Mountains in Kenya.

The western coastal plains of lndia also represent
several examples of parallel drainage patterns.


Trellis drainage system

When the primary tributaries of rivers flow
parallel to each other and secondary tributaries join them at right angles then
this type of pattern is formed.


The geometry of a trellis drainage system is similar to that of a
common garden trellis used to grow vines.

As the river flows along a strike valley,
smaller tributaries feed into it from the steep slopes on the sides of

These tributaries enter the main river at approximately
90 degree angles, causing a trellis-like appearance of the drainage system.

Trellis drainage is characteristic of folded
mountains, such as the Appalachian Mountains in North America.

In India it is found in Chotanagpur plateau.


drainage system

drainage develops on rocks that are of approximately uniform resistance to
erosion, but which have two directions of jointing at approximately right angles.

Concentrated in places were exposed rock is the




Drainage Pattern

·       Annular pattern, is also known as ‘circular

·       In an annular drainage pattern streams
follow a roughly circular or concentric path along a belt of weak rock, resembling
in plan a ring like pattern.

drainage pattern has developed over denuded domes in the Weald of England.


Radial Drainage Pattern

It is also known as centrifugal Drainage System.


Pattern is formed by the streams which diverge from a central higher
point in all directions.

The rivers originating from the Amarkantak range
present a good example of it.

The local upland situated to the south-west of
Ranchi city has given birth to radial drainage pattern wherein the South Koel,
the Subarnarekha, the Kanchi and the Karo rivers take their sources and radiate
in different directions.

Volcanos usually display excellent radial

Other geological features on which radial
drainage commonly develops are domes and laccoliths.

Centripetal Drainage Pattern

·       When the rivers discharge their waters from
all directions in a lake or depression, the pattern is known as ‘centripetal’.

·       Centripetal or inland drainage pattern  is opposite to ·the radial drainage pattern.

·       The Kathmandu valley of Nepal presents an
ideal example of centripetal drainage pattern wherein the tributary streams of
the Baghmati converge in the tectonically formed circular basin.




















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