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The holy Ganga and the Brahmaputra are the great north flowing rivers in India

Updated on March 12, 2016

River Ganga meandering through the Shivalik ranges, Rishikesh


Ganga story


Ganga Action Plan


The tributaries of the River Ganga join it in its course through the northern plains

The Ganga basin is the largest river basin in India and covers more than one – fourth of the country's total surface. Of its total length of 2,525 km, 1,450 km lies in Uttar Pradesh, 445 km in Bihar and 520 km in west Bengal. This basin supports the densest population of the world.

Many important cities are located on this plain. These include Delhi, Agra, Kedarnath, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Allahabad, Varanasi, Kanpur, Mirzapur, Munger, Bhagalpur, Patna and Kolkata.

The Ganga rises from the Gangotri glacier of the Great Himalayas. It is formed by two head-streams Alaknanda and Bhagirathi which join at Devprayag. Alaknanda flows southward from the Alkapuri glacier. Above Devprayag it is called Bhagirathi and below it is referred to as the Ganga. Beyond Farakka in West bengal, the mainstream of the Ganga which flows east – south – eastwards into Bangladesh is known as Padma. A bifurcation channel runs southwards through the deltaic plain into the sea. Here the river is known as the Hooghly. Here it receives the minor plateau streams. Before falling into the bay of Bengal below Chandrapur in Bangladesh, the river Padma joins the Brahmaputra which is known here as the Jamuna.

The tributaries of the River Ganga join it in its course through the northern plains.

The main right bank tributaries of the Ganga include the Yamuna, the Son and other minor streams. The Yamuna is the largest and the most important tributary of Ganga. It rises from the Yamunotri glacier. It joins the Ganga at Allahabad.

The left bank tributaries of the Ganga are Ramganga, Gomti, Ghagra, Gandak and Kosi.

Some tributaries of the ganga do not originated from the Himalayas. The Son and Damodar have their source in the Peninsular Plateau. Chambal, Sind and Betwa, the tributaries of Yamuna also originate from the Peninsular Plateau.

The Ganga plains

These plains lie in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They consists of a number of regions, i.e., the Ganga – Yamuna doab,Awadh plains and Mithila plains. These plains have been formed by the sediments brought down by the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Ghagra and their tributaries. Both the bhabar and tarai belts are well formed in the Uttar Pradesh plain. The Ganga Plain of Uttar Pradesh merges with the deltaic plain in Bengal through a transitional zone lying in Bihar.

River Brahmaputra in Assam


Brahmaputra River flowing


Brahmaputra river system

The Brahmaputra plains

These low – level plains extend in Assam for about 640 kilometres with a width of 90 to 100 kilometres. They have been formed by deposits from the Brahmaputra river and its tributaries and are bordered by high mountains. The small, meandering streams of the north form marshy areas. In some places on the plain, many, steeply - rising hillocks are found. Besides, there are a number of riverine islands, including Majuli, which is the largest river island in the world.

The Brahmaputra basin

The Brahmaputra river system is one of India's most important river systems. It runs for 2,900 km (885 km in India).

The Brahmaputra rises in Tibet near Lake Mansarovar and flows eastwards as River Tsangpo. At Namcha Barwa, through a gap in the Eastern Himalayas, the river enters India. It cuts deep gorges in the Himalayas. In Assam, it is joined by numerous other streams namely the Dihang, Dibang and Lohit. Other tributaries are Tista, Dhansun Manas, etc. The river is navigable from Sadia to Dhubri. It flows through a braided channel in the drier months and becomes very voluminous in the rainy season. The river often floods its banks.

The Brahmaputra Basin is sometimes said to be the continuation of the northern plains towards the east. It is clearly demarcated by the Eastern Himalayas of Arunachal Pradesh in the North, the Garo – Khasi – Jaintia and Mikir Hills in the South, Patkai and Naga Hills in the East and the lower Ganga Plain in the West.

The innumerable tributaries of the river form a number of alluvial fans due to deposition of coarse alluvial debris, which have led to the formation of large marshy tracks.

brahmaputra river



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    • 10000001 profile image

      madugundu krishna 2 years ago from Yemmiganur

      thanks for reading

    • Happy Moment profile image

      James 2 years ago from The Eastern Bypass

      The place looks very beautiful. Good article.