10 Longest Rivers in India (with images)

We have complied 10 longest rivers in India (includes entire stretch of a river)

Brief Intro: Rivers are one of nature’s most beautiful gifts to humanity. They are not only natural flowing watercourse (freshwater) that starts its course from up the mountains into the sea and the ocean but also a vital essence of human existence and a major contributing factor to the development of our nation’s economy. Some rivers in India are considered Holy Waters and are of great religious importance in India. With nearly 3,200 hydroelectric projects on the major rivers in India, it can be well understood how important rivers are in India.

The longest river is Ganga which is 2525 km in length and the smallest is the Poisar river in Mumbai which is 7 KM in length. The seven holy rivers of India are Ganga, Saraswathi, Yamuna, Godavari, Sindhu, Kaveri, and Narmada. All main rivers of India originate from the following ranges:

  • The Himalayan Ranges & The Hindu Kush Range (In North India)
  • Vindhya and Satpura Ranges (in Central India)
  • Sahyadri or Western Ghats (in western India)

Rivers also plays a vital role in the lives of people living in rural parts of India. They not merely utilize river water but worship them solely due to some divine powers. Below are some of the interesting facts about rivers:

  1. Rivers that flow from the Himalayas carry vital nutrient water that supplies excellent habitat and food for many of the soil organisms and to Indian fields.
  2. They even play an important part in the water cycle behaving as drainage channels for surface water.
  3. Many exceptional plants and trees like Reeds and bulrushes grow by rivers. Animals like a bear, antelopes use the river water for food & drink.
  4. Birds like duck & kingfishers eat small fish from the river. Many Indian Rivers have provided travel routes for commerce, exploration, and recreation.
  5. Most importantly, rivers provide an energy source to the entire nation. They are the only source to power large Dams and other small hydroelectric plants with electricity.

Please Note: We have arranged rivers sequence in longest flowing distance (from start to end, covering two or three nations on its way). Below are the top 10 Longest, Sacred and Important Rivers of India.

1.) Indus River

River Indus
Indus river, Ladakh, HP

It is one of the longest rivers in Asia which is 3200 KM in length. It originates from the Tibetan Plateau (surrounding area of Lake Mansarovar), enters the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and shortly takes a turn to the south-west direction to enter Pakistan and finally falls into the Arabian Sea. It has a large number of tributaries in both India and Pakistan and has a total length of about 3200 KM.

Now we know that that half of its part flows through Pakistan. But we can’t ignore its Riverscape and length in total. It is marked as the longest river in Asia and not to include in our list will be our idiocy.

The main tributaries of the Indus in India are:

  1. Chenab – 960 kilometres
  2. Jhelum – 813 kilometres
  3. Ravi – 720 kilometres
  4. Sutlej – 529 kilometres
  5. Beas – 460 kilometres


2.) Brahmaputra River

The Brahmaputra River, India
Brahmaputra River, Aerial View

The Brahmaputra originates from Angsi Glacier in the Himalayas. It is also commonly known as the only male river in India. The river is shorter than the Indus with a total of 2900 KM in length, and most of its route lies outside India. It flows from the Himalayas, reaches to Pi (Pe) in Tibet (river is known by the name of ‘Yarlung Tsangpo’ in Tibet.), and after a long stretch enters Siang in Arunachal Pradesh and thereafter enters Bangladesh.

In India, it flows through Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, and it is an important source for transportation and irrigation. The river is joined by several tributaries such as the Lohit, the Dibang, the Subansiri, the Jiabharali, the Dhansiri, the Manas, the Torsa, etc. Many of its offshoot rivers are worshiped in small villages across India. In Bangladesh, it is known by the name of ‘Jamuna’. After completing its course it meets with The Ganges and empties itself in the Bay of Bengal. It is second most longest river in India (due to its length)

3.) Ganga River

The Ganga River
The River Ganga, Haridwar

The great Ganga (The Ganges) is the National River of India and it is the third-longest river of India, flowing 2,525 kms. In Hindu religion, the Ganga or Ganges is considered one of the most sacred rivers as it is the visage of the goddess known as Ganga. It is believed that bathing in the Ganga river eradicates all sins and helps in Moksha. The river flows through the nations of India and Bangladesh with a total length of 2525 km. Tehri Dam is constructed across the Ganga river.

The Ganga is formed with the union of the Alaknanda River and Bhagirathi River and at Devprayag. The Bhagirathi rises from Gangotri Glacier, at ‘Gaumukh’ in the Himalayas. And Alaknanda from the foot of ‘Naina Devi’ & ‘Trishul’ Mountains. After flowing 250 KM through its narrow Himalayan gorge, the Ganga emerges from the mountains at ‘Rishikesh’ and after that pilgrimage town of ‘Haridwar’. The main tributaries of the Ganga rivers are Yamuna, Gomati, Ram Ganga, Ghaghara, Son, Damodar, and Sapt Kosi.

The major cities it flows through are Varanasi, Haridwar, Allahabad, Kolkata, Patna, and Ghazipur. Alas! due to human-induced pollution, The Ganges has become one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

4.) Godavari River

The Godavari River
Godavari River, Rajahmundry

The Godavari originates from Brahmagiri Mountain in Nashik, Maharashtra. It is the fourth-longest river in India and is commonly known as Dakshin (South) Ganga. The River is sacred to Hindus and many pilgrimage centers are there on the banks of this river from the past thousands of years. It flows for 1,465 KM in total starting its source from Nasik Hills (Triambakeshwar) Maharashtra. Several Dams are constructed across the river including Sriram Sagar Project and Babhali dam.

After flowing through the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka and Puducherry it ultimately empties itself into the Bay of Bengal. Some of its tributaries are Manjira, Indravati River, Bindusara, and Sabari. Some important cities and towns on its banks are Bhadrachalam, Nasik, Rajahmundry, and Narsapur.

5.) Yamuna River

Jamuna River
Yamuna River, Agra

The Yamuna is the fifth-longest river in India. It is also known as Jamuna which is the largest branch river of the Ganga. It travels a total length of 1,376 kilometers starting from Yamunotri Glacier in Uttarakhand and then travelling to the state of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and later Delhi before merging with the Ganga River at a holy spot of Triveni Sangam in Allahabad. It is of great mythological importance for the Hindu religion and is the main site for the famous ‘Kumbh Mela’, which is held every twelve years. Lakhwar-Vyasi Dam project is constructed on Yamuna River.

The Yamuna is considered a very important river as almost 58 million people of four states depend on the Yamuna waters. Like Ganga, the Yamuna River too is highly respected in Hinduism and worshipped as goddess Yamuna, throughout its route. The top cities of India like Delhi, Noida, Mathura, Agra, Firozabad, Etawah, Hamirpur, Allahabad lie on its banks.

6.) Narmada River

The Narmada river
Narmada river, Hoshangabad

The Narmada is also known as Rewa, which is in central India and the sixth-longest river in the Indian subcontinent with a length of 1312KM. The origin of the Narmada is from Amarkantak hill in Anuppur District of Madhya Pradesh. Its journey starts from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra and finishes at the Arabian Sea in the Bharuch district of Gujarat. The river is ‘Life Line of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh’. The Famous Sardar Sarovar dam is constructed on Narmada River.

To Hindus, the Narmada is one of the seven holy rivers of India and many hermits claim that the Narmada River is older than the river Ganga. Many important religious places and Ghats are there along the course of this river. Two main tributaries of Narmada, namely, Hallon and Banjar, flow through Kanha National Park (one of the best National Parks of Asia).

7.) Krishna River

The Krishna River
Krishna River flows through Bezawada (vijayawada)

The Krishna river is also known as Krishnaveni. The river is somewhat 1300 km in length which originates from Mahabaleswar (in Maharashtra) and flows to the state Karnataka before entering Andhra Pradesh and finally pours into the Bay of Bengal at Hamasaladeevi. It contributes to the major source of irrigation in the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Two major dams, namely, Srisailam and Nagarjuna Sagar are constructed across the Krishna River.

Its basin has an area of about 258,948 km2, which forms about 8% of the total geographical area of the country. The river’s most important tributary is the Tungabhadra River, which itself is formed by the Tunga and Bhadra rivers that originate in the Western Ghats. Other tributaries are Koyna, Bhima, Mallaprabha, Ghataprabha, Yerla, Warna, Dindi, Musi, and Dudhganga rivers. Like other rivers, Krishna too is considered holy by many Hindus and believed to eradicate all sins by taking a bath in this river.

8.) Mahanadi River

Mahanadi River
The Mahanadi River flows through Odisha state

Mahanadi is a major river in East Central India. It is the largest river in Orissa state. The river starts from Sihawa, in Chhattisgarh, flows over Madhya Pradesh & Odisha state, and finally joins the Bay of Bengal, covering a total course of 858 kilometers (and a drainage area of 141,600 square kilometers). The Mahanadi is known for its devastating floods for much of Odisha state recorded history. It is also important for trade and agriculture as it deposits more silt in the Indian subcontinent than any other river.

Famous Hirakud Dam is built on this River. It is best known for its fertile soil and flourishing agriculture. The river carried more silt than any other river in the Indian subcontinent. The main branches of River Mahanadi are Seonath, Mand, Hasdeo, Ong, Jonk, Telen. The important cities based on the banks of this river are Sambalpur, Cuttack, Sonepur, Birmaharajpur, Subalaya, Kantilo, Boudh.

9.) Kaveri River

Kaveri (Cauvery) River

Ninth on our list is the Kaveri River. It is also stated as ‘Cauvery’ in English. The river origins from Talakaveri (Kodagu in the Western Ghats in Karnataka) and travels to the state of Tamil Nadu and finally empties at the Bay of Bengal, covering a total length of 765 KM. It has many tributaries including Kapila, Hemavati, Shimsha, Arkavathy, Honnuhole, Lakshmana Tirtha, Noyyal, Kabini, Lokapavani, Bhavani, and Famous Amaravati. Popular Krishna Raja Sagar Dam is constructed on this river.

It is the third-longest river in South India. The river is an important source for an extensive irrigation system and for hydroelectric power. It served as the source of revenue in ancient kingdoms and today modern cities of South India. The cities of Bangalore and Mysore depend almost completely on the Kaveri river for their drinking water supply. Through its course, it covers the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Puducherry.

10.) Tapti River

The Tapti River
Tapti River flows through Burhanpur

Last on our list of the 10 longest rivers in India is Tapti or Tapi river. It is one of the important Rivers of peninsular India with a total length of around 724 KM. It begins its journey from eastern Satpura Range of southern Madhya Pradesh, and flows westward to Madhya Pradesh and then to Maharashtra and east Vidarbha regions of south Gujarat, before emptying into the Arabian Sea, in the Surat District of Gujarat.

Ukai Dam is built on this river. The chief tributaries of the Tapti River are the Waghur, Mindhola, Girna, Panzara, Bori, and Aner River. Major towns and cities along the river are Betul, Multai, Nepanagar, and Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh; Bhusawal in Maharashtra and Surat & Songadh in Gujarat.

For your better understanding, above mentioned river locations, we have enclosed a river map of India with this post below.

River Map of India

Conclusion:

There are somewhat 200 big small rivers in India. And many projects have started to help save and clean our major rivers; such as NMCG (National Mission for Clean Ganga), NRCD (National River Conservation Directorate), YAP (Yamuna action Plan), Namami Ganga, and so on. Whether it is for the production of Hydro-power electricity, Irrigation, Industrial projects, or just for clean Drinking water, rivers are the most important and contributing factor.

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