Physiography and Drainage Pattern of India

Category : UPSC


Physiography and Drainage Pattern of India





‘Physiography’ of an area is the outcome of structure, process and the stage of development. The land of India is characterized by great diversity in its physical features. It is well-marked off from the rest of Asia by mountains and He Sea, which give the country a distinct geographical unity. The North has a vast expanse of rugged topography consisting of series of mountain ranges with varied peaks, beautiful valleys and deep gorges. The South consists of stable table land with highly dissected plateaus and denuded rocks. In between these two lies the vast North Indian plain.





  • India lies in the northern and eastern hemispheres of the globe between \[8{}^\circ \] 4’ N and \[37{}^\circ \]6’ N latitudes and \[68{}^\circ \]7’ E and \[97{}^\circ \]25’E longitudes. Thus, its latitudinal and longitudinal extent is about thirty degrees.
  • The Indian sub-continent justs out from the Eurasian landmars into the Indian ocean in the form of triangular peninsula lies to the south of the tropic of cancer.
  • The southernmost point extent upto \[6{}^\circ \]45’ N latitude to cover the last island of the Nicobar group of islands. The southern extreme is called Pygmalion Point or Indira Point.
  • The Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal are situated on western and eastern side of peninsular India respectively.
    • The tropic of cancer \[\left( 23\frac{{{1}^{o}}}{2}N\,latitudes \right)\] passes through the middle part of India and crosses the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura and Mizoram (8 states).
  • It is natural to look upon India as being divided into Northern temperate and Southern tropical lands by the tropic of cancer.
  • Its total length of land frontier of 15,200 kilometres passes through marshy lands, desert, level plains, rugged mountains, snow covered areas and thick forests.
  • Besides land there is a maritime boundary of 6,100 kilometres along the main land mass which increases to 7,516 kilometres of the coastlines of Andaman-Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands are added to it.


•      India-Afghanistan and Pakistan - Afghanistan international boundary is called the Durand Line, determined as a “militarily strategic border between British India and Afghanistan”.

•      The India-China boundary (4,225 km) is a natural boundary running along the Himalayan ranges and is based on various treaties. Its eastern part (1,140 km) is called the Mc Mahon Line.

•      The boundary with Pakistan and Bangladesh (the East Pakistan) was finalized at the time of partition in 1947 through the ‘Red Cliffe Award’.

•      The Tin Bigha Corridor is a strip of land belonging to India is a part of West Bengal and lies adjacent to the Bangladesh border. In 1947, the border between India and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was also demarcated by Sir Redcliffe.

•      Sir creek forms the boundary between Gujarat State of India and Sind province of Pakistan.


  • India is the only country which has given its name to an ocean, i.e. Indian Ocean encircled by 46 countries (27 littoral including Australia, 7 island states and 12 land locked countries).
  • India commands a total geographical area of 32,87,263 sq. km which is roughly 0.57% of the area of the earth and 4% of the total area of the land hemisphere.
  • India has roughly a quadrangular shape. It measures about 3,214 km from north to south and about 2,933 km from east to west, the difference between the two being just 281 km.
  • The latitudinal extent of India is about one-third the angular distance between the Equator and the North Pole and its longitudinal extent is about one-twelfth of the circumference of the equator.
  • The longitudinal difference between saurashtra in the west and Arunachal Pradesh in the east is about\[30{}^\circ \].
  • Because of great longitudinal extent, the difference in local time between Eastern and Western extremes of the country is of two hours. In order to avoid the confusion with regard to the time at different places of the country, the local time along \[82{}^\circ \]30’ East longitudes is taken as the standard time of India, i.e. India Standard Time (1ST).
  • This meridian is known as the Standard Meridian of India. It passes through Mirzapur (UP). The Tropic of Cancer divides India almost into two equal halves.
  • Thus, the Northern half of India is situated entirely in the Northern hemisphere and also belongs to the Eastern hemisphere because of its situation to the East of the Prime Meridian.
  • After Russia, China, Canada, USA, Brazil and Australia, India is the seventh largest country of the world. Its area is almost equal to the area of Europe (excluding Russia), one-third of Canada, one fifth (1/5) of Russia, eight times of Japan and twelve times of United Kingdom.
  • In population-size, India is the second giant country in the world after China.
  • The Area of India is nearly equal to the Area of thecontinent of Europe excluding Russia.
  • Its total population is more than the combined population of USA, Russia, Australia, Canada and Japan.
  • The eastern boundaries of India are formed by a complex chain of the Himalayan offshoots consisting of the Mishmi, the Patkai, the Naga hills, the Barail range, the Mizo hills and finally the majestic Arakan Yoma Mountains range.
  • The Arakan Yoma is submerged in the Bay of Bengal for sufficiently long stretch and emerges again in the form of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The boundary line between India and Bangladesh crisscrosses the vast Ganga-Brahmaputra delta. This boundary runs is not even a small mount or hill which could be used for demarcating the boundary between the
  • India’s 4096 km long border with Bangladesh is the longest and accounts for nearly 27 percent of the Total land border of India.
  • No continent of the world except Asia has a largest population than that of India.
  • India contains about one-sixth of the total population of the world.
  • Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh are the states of India lying completely in the Himalayas, while the state of Uttarakhand lies partly in the Himalayas and partly in the northern plains.
  • Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, together make the great peninsular plateau.
  • Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal are states on the coast of India. Among our Union Territories, Daman and Pondicherry have sea boundaries.
  • The Indian states on international boundaries (other country/ countries within brackets) are: Gujarat (Pakistan), Rajasthan (Pakistan), Punjab (Pakistan), Jammu and Kashmir (China and Pakistan), Himachal Pradesh (China), Bihar Nepal), Uttarakhand (China and Nepal), Uttar Pradesh (Nepal), West Bengal (Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh), Sikkim (China, Bhutan and Nepal), Arunachal Pradesh (Bhutan, China and Myanmar), Nagaland (Myanmar), Manipur (Myanmar),  Mizoram  (Bangladesh  and Myanmar), Meghalaya (Bangladesh), Tripura (Bangladesh) and Assam (Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar).
  • The states of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattishgarh and Jharkhand are the only land-locked states which are neither on the coast nor on an international border.



The States having Common Frontiers with Neighboring Countries





Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat (4 states)


Jammu and Kashmir (1 state)


Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim Arunachal Pradesh (5 states)


Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal Sikkim (5 states)


Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh (4 states)


Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram (4 states)


West Bengal, Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura, Mizoram (5 states)


Four Ends of India

Easternmost point of India is known as Kibithu; situated on right bank of river Lohit separating India from China-Tibet region. It is a small village with the population at the altitude of 3,350 metre in Arunachal Pradesh. Westernmost point   is situated in Kuch area of Gujarat called as Ghuar Mota. The region is famous for its harsh climate with \[45\text{ }{}^\circ \]C in summer and 20°C in winter. During monsoon sea. son this region looks like tortoise surrounded by seawater. Northernmost point of India has been in controversies ever since India’s independence. The Siachen Glacier in the state of J&K is the northern boundary of India according to the official division of India during the time of Independences. The Southernmost point of the mainland of India is Kanyakumari District in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Kanyakumari, formerly was known as Cape Comorin. It is the second largest and urbanized of Tamil Nadu. Indira Point is a village in the Nicobar district of Andaman and Nicobar   Islands, India. It is located in the Great Nicobar tehsil. It is the location of the southernmost point of India’s territory. Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea meet at Indian point.


Area Wise Largest States


sq km



Madhya Pradesh




Andhra Pradesh


Uttar Pradesh



Important Straits



Indira point-Indonesia (B.O.B)

Great Channel

Little Andaman and Nicobar (B.O.B)

\[10{}^\circ \]Channel

Minicoy-Lakshadweep (A.S)

\[9{}^\circ \]Channel

Maldives-Minicoy (A.S)

\[8{}^\circ \]Channel

India-Sri Lanka (B.O.B)

Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait

Bay of Bengal (B.O.B)


Arabian sea (A.S.)





Origin of Landforms


  • The oldest landmass, the Indian Peninsula, was a part of the Gondwanaland. The Gondwanaland included India, Australia, Africa and South America as one single land mass. The convectional currents split the crust into a number of pieces, thus leading to the drifting of the Indo-Australian plate after being separated from the Gondwanaland, towards North. The Northward drift resulted in the collision of the Indian plate with the much larger Eurasian Plate.
  • Due to this collision, the sedimentary deposit which were accumulated in the geosyncline (a long shallow depression between two large landmasses) known as the Tethys were folded to form the mountain system of Western Asia and

Himalaya. The Himalayan upliftment out of the Tethys sea and subsidence of the Northern flank of the Peninsular plateau resulted in the formation of a large basin. In due course of time this depression, gradually got filled with deposition of sediments by the rivers flowing from the mountains in the North and the Peninsular plateau in the South.

  • A flat land of extensive alluvial deposits led to the formation of the Northern plains of India. Geologically, the Peninsular plateau constitutes one of the ancient landmass on the Earth's surface. It was supposed to be one of the most stable land blocks. The Himalayas and the Northern plains are the most recent landforms. From the view point of geology, Himalayan mountains form an unstable zone. The. whole mountain system of Himalaya represents a very youthful topography with conical peaks, V-shaped valleys and fast flowing rivers. The Northern plains are formed of alluvial deposits. The Peninsular plateau is composed of igneous and metamorphic rocks with gently rising hills and wide valleys.
  • Out of the total area of the country, about 10.6% is occupied by mountains, 18.5% by hills, 27.7% by plateaus and 43.2% by the plains.
  • India may be divided into five major physiographic regions, viz, (I) The Northern Mountains, (II) The Great Plains, (III) The Peninsular Uplands, and (IV) The Indian Coasts and Islands, & (V) The Indian Desert


  1. The Northern Mountains
  • The region extends all along the northern frontier of the country, for about 2500 km, with a varying width 240 to 320 km and a total area of about 5, 00,000\[k{{m}^{2}}\].
  • Himalayas represent the youngest and the highest folded mountains of the earth, rising to over 8000 m above sea level and consisting of three parallel ranges :

(a) Himadri (Greater Himalayas),

(b) Himachal (Lesser Himalayas), and

(c) The Siwaliks (Outer Himalayas).

  • The Himalayas are intersected by numerous valleys like Kashmir valley, the Karewas, the Doon valley, the Kangra and Kullu valley (Himachal Pradesh), Kathmandu valley (Nepal), Bhagirathi valley (near Gangotri) and Mandakini

valley (near Kedarnath).

Principal Peaks of India


Height (Mtrs)


1. Mt. Everest



2. Mt. K2 (Karakoram)



3. Kanchenjunga



4. Dhaulagiri



5. Nanga Parbat



6. Annapuma



7. Gasherbrurn



8. Nanda Devi



9. Mt. Kamet



10. Guria Mandhata





and its locations

• Araku Valley

: Andhra Pradesh

• Damodar Valley

: Jharkhand and West Bengal

• Darma Valley

: Uttarakhand

• Dzukou Valley

: North-eastern part

• Johar Valley

: Uttarakhand

• Markha Valley

: Ladakh

• Nubra Valley

: Ladakh

• Sangia Valley

: Himachal pradesh

• Saur Valley

: Uttarakhand

• Sum Valley

: Ladakh

• Tons Valley

: Uttarakhand

• Yumthang Valley

: Sikkim


Divisions of the Himalayas

(a) The sub-Himalayas or Siwaliks:

  • The range has a total length of about 2400 km from the Indus gorge to the Brahmaputra valley. • It is known by various local names, i.e. the Jammu hills (Jammu & Kashmir), the Dundwa range (Uttarakhand), the Churia Muria hills (Nepal), the Daffla, Miri, Abor and Mishmi hills (Arunachal Pradesh).


(b) The Lesser Himalayas or Himachal;

  • It is about 80 km wide with average height between 1300 to 5000 m.
  • Important ranges include the Dhauladhar, Pirpanjal, Nag Tiba, Mahabharat range and Mussoorie range. The famous hill resorts like Shimla, Chail, Ranikhet, Chakrata, Mussoorie, Nainital, Almeria and Darjeeling, etc. are situated over this range.
  • Along the slopes are found a number of small pastures which are called Merg in Kashmir (viz. Gulmerg, Sonmerg, Tanmerg) and Bugyal and Payar in Uttarakhand.


Mountain Passes of India

Himalayan passes

·         Banihal pass - between Doda and Anantnag (Jawahar Tunnel), J & K.

·         Shipki La - River Sutluj enters India from Tibet, Himachal Pradesh.

·         Bara Lachan La - between Kyelang and Leh, Himachal Pradesh.

·         Rohtang pass - between Kullu and Kyelang, Himachal Pradesh.

·         Bomdila pass - between Tezpur and Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh.

Himalayan passes between India and China

·         Shipki La - Himachal Pradesh.

·         Thaga La and Niti La - Uttarakhand.

·         Lipu Lekh La - Tri-junction, India-Nepal-China, Uttarakhand.

·         Jelep La - Between India and China (Gangtok- Lhasa Road) Sikkim.

·         Nathu La - Between India and China (Entry to Chumbi Valley) Sikkim.


Trans Himalayan passes

·         Karakoram pass and Aghil pass - Jammu & Kashmir.

Passes in Western Ghats

·         Palghat - between Palakkad and Coimbatore.

·         Shenkota - between Kollam and Madurai.

·         Thalghat - between Mumbai and Pune.

·         Bhorghat - between Mumbai and Nasik.


  • The best known passes of the Pir Panjal range are the Pir Panjal Pass (3480 m), the Bidil (4270m), Golabghar (9812m) and Banihal Pass (235m). The Jammu-Sri Nagar highway uses the Banihal Pass.


(c)        The Greater Himalayas or Himadri     

  • This zone rises abruptly like a wall north of the Lesser Himalayas. It is about 25 km wide with average height above 5000 m.
  • The Himadri runs in an arc like shape in a length of 2500 km from Nanga Parbat (8126 m) in the west to Namcha  Bapwa (7756 m) in the east.
  • This is the northernmost or the innermost of all the Himalayan ranges.
  • With an average elevation of 6100 m above sea level this is the loftiest and the most continuous mountain range of the world.
  • This mountain range boasts of the tallest peaks of the world, most of which remain under perpetual snow.
  • They are, in descending order of altitude, Mount Everest, also called Sagarmatha or Chomo Langma (8848m), Lhotse 1 (8501m), Mount Akalu (8481m), Kanchenjunga South Peak (8474m), Kanchenjunga West Peak (8420m),
  • Lhotsa Intermediate Peak (8410m), Cho Oyu (8153m),Nanga Parbat (8126m), Annapuma (8078m), Gosainthan or Shisha Pangma (8013m), Makalu South peak

(8010 m).         

  • The Burzil pass and Zoji La in Kashmir, Bara Lapcha La and Shipki La in Himachal Pradesh, Thaga La, Niti Pass and Lipu Lekh Pass in Uttarakhand and Nathu La, Jelep La in Sikkim are worthy of mention.
  • The Hindustan - Tibet road connecting Shimla with Gartok in Western Tibet passes through the Shipki La.
  • Another important trade route connecting Kalimpong (near Darjeeling) with Lhasa in Tibet however passes through Jelep La (4386m).
  • The Himadri runs in an arc like shape in a length of 2500 km from Nanga Parbat (8126 m) in the west to Namcha Barwa (7756 m) in the east.


(d) Trans Himalayas    

  • The Trans-Himalayan Zone with a width of 40 km in its eastern and western ends and a width of 222 km in its central part, it has important ranges such as the Zaskar Range and the Great Karakoram range. The Karakoram extends towards the south-east to form the Kailash Range (Tibet). The highest peak in the Karakoram range is K, (8,611 m). The longest glacier is Siachen in the Nubra Valley which is more than 72 km long.


Some important facts about peaks

·        Highest Mt. Peak in India: \[{{k}_{2}}\] or Godwin Austin

·        Highest peak in Aravalli: Gurushikhar (in Mt. Abu)

·        Highest peak in Satpura - Dhupgarh (Mahadeo Hills)

·        Highest peak in E. Ghats - Mahendragiri (Orissa)

·        Highest peak in W. Ghats - Anaimudi (Annamalai Hills - Kerala)

·        Highest peak in Nilgiris - Doda Betta

·        Hills in Southern Hill complex - Nilgiri, Annamalai, Cardamom & Palani Hills in Eastern Ghats: Shevaroy, Javadi, Palkonda, Nallamalai, Northern Circars

·        Oblique ranges to Western Ghats in Maharashtra: Ajanta, Satmala, Harishchandra, Balaghat

·         Satpura range from East to West: Amarkantak - Maikal- Mahadeo - Gawilgarh - Rajpipala

·        Highest peak in Andaman and Nicobar is-lands- Saddle Peak

·        The highest peak of Naga hills is Saramati peak.


(e)        The Eastern Hills or the Purvanchal

  • After crossing the Dihang gorge, the Himalayas take a sudden southward turn and form a series of comparatively low hills running in the shape of a crescent with its convex side pointing towards the west.
  • These hills are collectively called the Purvanchal because they are located in the eastern part of India.
  • The hill ranges running in north-south direction along the Burmese border and passing through Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap division), Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram are collectively called Purvanchal.
  • These are known by various local names, i.e. Patkai Bum (Arunachal Pradesh), Naga hills, Kohima hills, Manipur hills, Mizo hills, Tripura hills and Barail range.
  • Extending from Arunachal Pradesh in the north to Mizoram in the south, they form India's boundary with Myanmar.
    • In the north is the Patkai Bum, which forms the international boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar.
  • After running for some distance southwards, it merges into Naga Hills where Saramati (3826m) is the highest peak.
  • South of Naga Hills are the Manipur hills, which are generally less than 2500 metres in elevation.
  • The Barail range separates Naga Hills from Manipur Hills.
  • South of the Manipur Hills are the Mizo Hills (Lushai), which have an elevation of less than 1500 metres. The highest point is the Blue Mountain (2157m) in the South.
  • Mishmi Hills highest range of Purvanchal Hills which is situated in the north-eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh.
    • Loktak lake (centripetal.drainage) is situated in Manipur.


Longitudinal divisions of the Himalayas

Longitudinally, the Himalayas can be divided into following sections.


  1. The Punjab Himalayas
  • The 560 km long stretch of the Himalayas between the Indus and the Sutluj rivers is known as the Punjab Himalayas.
  • A large portion of this sector lies in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh as a result of which it is also called the Kashmir and Himachal Himalaya.
  • Karakoram, Ladakh, Pir Panjal, Zaskar and Dhaula Dhar are the main ranges of this section.


  1. Kumaon Himalayas
  • This section extends from Sutluj to Kali river valleys and is said to have 360 lakes, such as Naini Tal and Bhim Tal
  • The Pilgrimage centers {Badrinath, Gangotri) located in this section is of particular importance to the Hindus.


  1. Nepal Himalayas

This section extends from Kali to Tista and has the distinction of having some of the highest peaks in the world including Mt. Everest.


  1. Assam Himalayas

This section extends from Tista to Brahmaputra. The highest peak of this range is Namcha Barwa.


  1. The Great Plains
    • It is an aggravational plain formed by the alluvial deposits of the Indus, Ganga and the ahmaputra and their tributaries. This is the largest alluvial tract of the world, extending for a length of 3200 km and width varies between 150 to 300 km.
  • The plain stretches from west (from the banks of the Ravi and Sutluj) to east (the Ganga delta) to a lentgh of 2400 km.
  • The plain merges into the Thar desert in the south-west. A low watershed of the Delhi ridge (278 m) along the right bank of the Yamuna river separates the Satluj plains (a part of the Indus plain) from the Ganga plains.


Divisions of the Great Plains

The Great Plains may be divided into a number of smaller units on the basis of the characteristics of the alluvium, surface gradient, drainage channels and regional traits.


Bhabar Plains

  • It lies all along the foot of the Siwaliks with remarkable continuity from the Indus to the Tista.
  • It is generally 8 to 16 km wide belt consisting of gravel and unassorted sediments deposited by the Himalayan rivers in the foreland zone due to sudden break of slope.
  • The porosity is so high that all streams disappear in the Bhabar tract leaving out only dry channels.


Terai Plains

South of the Bhabar lies a 15-30 km wide marshy tract called terai where streams reappear to the surface.

The Terai is more marked in the eastern part than in the west due to higher amount of rainfall.

It is a zone of excessive dampness, thick forests & rich wild life.


Bangar or Bhangar Plains

  • The Bhangar represents the uplands (alluvial terrace) formed by the deposition of the older alluvium and lie above the flood-limit of the plains.
  • The main constituent of Bhangar is clay (locally known as kankar) which at places gives way to loam and sandyloam.


Khadar Plains

The younger alluvium of the flood plains of the numerous rivers is called the Khadar or Bet (in Punjab).

Its alluvium is light coloured and poor in calcareous matter consisting of deposits of sand, silt, mud and clay.


Delta Plains

  • Deltaic plain is an extension of the Khadar plain. It covers about 1.86 lakh sq km of area in the lower reaches of the Ganga river (West Bengal).
  • It mainly consists of old mud, new mud and marsh. Upland area is locally known as chars & marshy land as ‘bills’.
  • Large part of the coastal deltas is covered by thick impenetrable tidal forests called Sunderbans.

On the basis of regional characteristics, the Great Plains may be divided into following sub plains:


The Punjab-Haryana Plains

  • Extends from Punjab in the west to yamuna River (Haryana) in the East
  • Land of five rivers is primary made up of 'doabs' the land between two rivers.
  • They are composed by Bets (Khadar plains) and Dhaya (Heavily gullied bluffs)
  • With a distance of 640 km from north-east to south-west and 300 km from west to east, these flat plains occupy 1.75 lakh sq km. They comprise the Bist Doab (between Sutlej and Beas rivers), the Bari Doab (between Beas and
  • Ravi rivers), the Chaj Doab (between Chenab & Jhelum) & the Sindh Sagar Doab (between Jhelum - Chenab & Indus).


The Rajasthan Plains

Extent: 650 km long.

  • Thar or Great Indian Desert is the western most region of Great Indian plains in the western Rajasthan.
  • A Semi arid plain, lying to the east of Thar desert is known as Rajasthan Bagar.
    • The luni is the only South-West flowing river of this regain.
  • The Sambhar (Largest), the Kuchaman, and the Didwana are important lakes situated to the north of lumi Basin.

The Rajasthan desert is sloping towards two directions

(a) westwards to the Indus Valley in Pakistan, and

(b) southwards to the Rann of Kutch.


The Ganga Plains

Spreading across the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar for 3.57 lakh sq km,the plains comprise the raised bhangar areas and Khadar areas. The Ganga Plain is divided into the

  • The Ganga and its tributaries like Yamuna, Ghangra, Gomti,

Kosi, Son deposit large amount of alluvium and make this extensive plain more fertile.

(a) Ganga-Yamuna Doab,

(b) Rohilkhand Plain,

(c) Avadh Plain (covering the eastern half of Uttar Pradesh),

(c) Bihar Plain, and Cpt   Rpnofll Plain

The Ganga delta, which constitutes the Bengal basin, has part of it stretching along the sea and covered with tidal forests (the Sunderbans).


The Brahmaputra Plains

The low-level plains formed by deposits carried by mainly the Brahmaputra river but also the Diband, the Sesiri and the Luhit are bordered by high mountains. Moist soil conditions and thick forests form the northern extreme.

The low- level Plains formed by the Brahmaputra river system is situated between Eastern Himalaya (Arunachal Pradesh) in the north, patkal and Naga hills in the east, Garo-Khasi-Jaintia and Mikir Hills and Lower Ganga plain and indo-Bangladesh in the west.

This is also known as the Brahmaputra valley or Assam valley or Assam plain


III. The Peninsular Plateau

The Peninsular to plateau of India is roughly triangular in shape with base coinciding with the Southern edge of the great plain of North India and its apex is formed by Kanyakumari in the Southern extremity.

Rising from the height of 150 m above the river plains up to an elevation of 600-900 m is the irregular triangle known as the Peninsular Plateau.

The Peninsular plateau is a tableland composed of the old crystalline, igneous and metamorphic rocks. It was formed due to the breaking and drifting of the Gondwanaland and thus, making it a part of the oldest landmass. This region of the country is surrounded on the three sides by water and thus, is a Peninsular plateau.

The plateau has broad and shallow valleys and rounded hills. Narmada river, which flows into a Rift valley, divided the region into two parts namely, the central highlands in its North and the Deccan plateau in its South.

  • Its north-west limit is marked by Aravalli range and its northern extreme has the raised Bundelkhand. At its eastern and western ends are Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats respectively.
  • The fault in which the Narmada river flows divides the region into two unequal parts; the smaller one in the north being known as the Central Highlands.
  • It is slightly tilted towards north. The southern part has been tilted east with bold heights to the west. This area is popularly known as the Deccan Plateau comprising the Satpuras, Western and Eastern Ghats and a large number ofplateaus.


On the basis of prominent relief features, the Peninsular plateau can be divided into three broad groups:


  1. The Central Highlands

The Central Highlands are bounded to the West by the Aravali range. Satpura range demarcates its boundary in the South from Deccan plateau.

An Eastern extension of central high lands is formed by

Raimahal hills The general elevation of the central high lands ranges between 700-1000 m above the mean sea level. It slopes towards the North and North-Eastern directions.


The Aravalli Range

It runs North-East to South-West for 800 km from Delhi through Rajasthan to Ahmadabad in Gujarat. These are the relict mountains representing one of the world’s oldest high lands formed as a result of folding process in Archaean times.

It has a lower elevation between Delhi and Ajmer, where it is characterised by a chain of discontinuous ranges. But it becomes a continuous range South of Ajmer where it rises to 900 m elevation. At the South-West extremity the range rives to over 1,000 m. Here Mountain Abu (1,158 m), a small hilly block, is separated from the main range by the valley of the Banas

The general height of this range varies between 400-1300 m.

Gure Skikhar 1722 m) is the highest peak of the range, located in Ubu hills of Rajasthan. Barr, Piplighat, Dewari, Desuri are some of the passes associated with this range.


East Rajasthan Uplands

It is located East of the Aravali range in North-West India.

  • The upland covers an area of 23,200 sq km and have a general elevation of 350 m. It constitutes the Northern part of Central Highlands.


Madhya Bharat Plateau

It is the Northern of the central highlands. It covers an area of about 22 thousand sq km. Most of it comprises of the basim of the chambal river which flows in a rift valley.


Bundelkhand and Baghelkhand Uplands

It lies to the South of Yamuna river along border region of

Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Bundelkhand covers five districts of Uttar Pradesh and four districts of Madhya Pradesh.

Baghelkhand lies South-East of the Bundelkhand region and is largely made up of limestones and sandstones. They are represented by rounded Hummocky hills made of granite and sandstone. Streams like Betwa and Ken have carved out steep gorges, rocky banks and waterfalls in these uplands rendering them unfit for cultivation. The region is characterized by ‘senile topography’


The Malwa Plateau Largely in Northern Madhya Pradesh, forms a triangular shape and is typical for having two systems of drainage. Rivers like Mahi and Narmada flow through it into the Arabian sea, while rivers like Chambal and Betwa flow through it to join Yamuna and ultimately fall into Bay of Bengal.

It is composed of lava flows and is covered with black soils.

Which is useful for cotton cultivation. This plateau is marked in its North by the badlands or ravines formed by Chambal river by exercising gully erosion.


The Vindhyan Ranges

  • It runs parallel to the Narmada Rift valley as an escarpment in an East-West direction from Jobat in Gujrat to Sasaram in Bihar for a distance of 1200 km. The general elevation of the ranges is 400-700 m. It consists of horizontal beds of sedimentary rocks.
  • It continues Eastwards as Bhamer hills and Kaimur hills.

Panna hills also lie in these ranges. The Great boundary fault separates the Aravallis from Vindhyan range.

  • This range acts as a watershed between the Ganga system and the river system of South India and forms the northern boundary of the Deccan.


The Baghelkhand

  • East of Maikal Range is the Baghel Khand made of limestones and Sandstones on the west and granite in the east.
  • It covers and area of about 1.4 lakh sq. km.
  • The central part of the plateau acts as a water divide between the son drainage system in the north and the Mahanadi river system in the South.


The Chhotanagpur Plateau

  • East of BaghelKhand, the chotanagpur Plateau represents the north-eastern projection of the indian peninsula.
  • It covers an area of 87 thousand sq. km mostly in Jharkhand, northern part of chhatisgarh and purulia district of West Bengal.
  • It is the storehouse of minerals and a large scale mining of iron, manganese, coal, uranium etc is done in this region.
  • This plateau is drained by numerous rivers forming a radial drainage pattern. Damodar river valley is well-known for its coal deposits.
  • In the North-East of this region lies Hazaribagh plateau, while towards East are Parasnath hills and towards South- East is Ranchi plateau. Rajmahal hills form the North- Eastern edge of the Chhotanagpur plateau and are covered by black soil. The plateau is an example of Pat Land.


  1. Deccan Plateau
  • This is the largest unit of peninsular Plateau of India covering an area of about 5 lakh sq. km.
  • Deccan plateau is bordered by the Western ghats in the West, Eastern ghats in the East and the Satpura, Maikal and Mahadeo hills in North. The Deccan Plateau is higher in the West and slopes gently eastwards. It is higher in South than its North.
  • With an average elevation of 600 m it rises to 1000 m in the South but dips to 500 m in the north.


The Satpura Ranges

It is a series of seven mountains that run in the East-West direction in between Narmada and Tapi rivers. It is an example of block mountain. Commencing from the Rajpipla hills in the West through the Mahadev hills to Maikal range, it stretches for about 900 km.


Dhupgarh (1350 m) on Mahadev hills near Pachmarhi in

Madhya Pradesh is the highest peak of the ranges. Amarkantak (1,127m) is another important peak lying in the Maikal range at Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border and is the source of river Narmada.


Maharashtra Plateau is a basaltic sheet with a thickness of more than 2000 m. It has been formed by the consolidation of the lava. Maharashtra plateau covers the entire State of Maharashtra except Konkan coast and the Sahyadris.

The entire area is covered by black cotton soil known Regur.

Karnataka Plateau is situated at the south in Deccan plateau.

It covers entire Karnataka except a small portion of North-

East. It has the rocks of lava origin.

The karnataka Plateau is divided into two parts s,e Malnad and Maidan. The Malnad in Kannada means hill country. It is dissected into deep valleys covered with dense forests. The Maidan on the other hand is formed of rolling plain with low granite hills.


Telangana Plateau constitutes the North- Eastern part of

Deccan plateau. It covers an area of 1.4 lakh sq km. It is located in the Western part of Andhra Pradesh.

  • The Telangana Plateau consists of Archean geniuses at an average elevation of 500-600m.
  • The entire plateau is divided into two major physiographic regions, namely, the Ghats and the peneplains.

The Western Ghats or Sahyadris Forming the western edge of the Deccan table land, the western Ghats run in North-South direction, Parallel and close to the Arabian Sea coast, from the Tapi valley (\[21\text{ }{}^\circ \]N latitude) to a little north of kanyakumari (\[11{}^\circ \]N latitude) for a distance of 1,600 km.

  • Their average width varies from 50 km in the North to about 300 km in the South. It is composed of lava deposits up to \[16{}^\circ \] N latitude. Important peaks of the Western Ghats from North to South include - Kalsubai (1646m – highest peak of Maharashtra), Salher (1567 m), Mahabaleshwar (1438 m) in Maharashtra and Kudremukh (1892 m) as the highest peak in Karnataka.
  • The Sivasamudran fall, Gokak fall and Mahatma Gandhi fall are important waterfalls in Western Ghats. Bhor Ghat, Thalghat and Palghat are the important passes facilitating movement between the Western coastal plains and rest of the country.
  • Palghat gap separates Nilgiri hills in the South from Anaimalai hills.
  • It is at the Nilgiris that Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats meet with each other. Anamudi (2695 m) in the Anaimalai hills is the highest peak of whole of Southern India.
  • Another important peak is Dodabetta (2637m) of Nilgiri hills. Cardamom hills are the Southernmost hills and reach upto Kanyakumari and are famous for cultivation of Cardamom and spices.


The Eastern Ghats are discontinuous and irregular and dissected by rivers draining into the Bay of Bengal.

  • These are a series of detached hills of heterogeneous composition which are called by various local names.
    • The Western ghats are higher than the Eastern ghats.
  • Their average elevation is 900-1600 m as against 600 m of the Eastern Ghats.
  • The Eastern Ghats stretch from the South of Mahanadi valley to the Nilgiris in the South.
  • The Eastern Ghats are comparatively broader and do not form a continuous water divide.
  • Aroya Konda (1680 m) at Andhra-Odisha border is the highest peak of Eastern Ghats. Other important peaks include Mahendragiri (1501 m) in Odisha, Gali Konda (1643 m) etc.
  • It is a continuous range from south of Mahanadi to Godavari.
  • South of it, it is highly dissected.
  • They continue South of Krishna river in the form of dissected hills from North to South in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu as Nallamala hills. Palkonda range, Velikonda range, Javadi hills and Shevaroy hills only to confluence with Western Ghats at Nilgiri hills. Khondalites are predominantly found in Eastern Ghats.



Difference between Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats


Western Ghats

Eastern Ghats

Form a continuous water divide.

Discontinuous and dissected by rivers.

Can be crossed through passes

Series of detached hills

Higher than Eastern Ghats

Lower than Western Ghats

Face Arabian sea and run along the western plateau

Face Bay of Bengal and run along the Eastern Plateau

Comparatively narrow

Comparatively broader

Highest Peak-Anaimudi

Highest Peak-Mahendragiri


The Western Ghats Meet with Eastern Ghats in the Nilgiri Hills.


  1. The North-Eastern Plateau

It is an extension of the main Peninsular plateau. It is believed that due to the force exerted by the North-Eastward movement of the Indian plateau at the time of the Himalayan origion, a huge fault was created between the Rajmahal hills and the Meghalaya plateau. Later this depression got filled up bv the deposition activity of the numerous rivers. Today, the Meghalaya and Karbi Anglong plateau stand detached – from the main Peninsular Block. The Meghalaya plateau is further sub- divided into three parts:-

(i) The Garo hills

(ii) The Khasi hills

(iii) The Jaintia hills

These hills are named after the tribal groups inhabiting this region. An extension of this is also seen in Karbi- Anglong hills of Assam. Similar to the Chhotanagpur plateau, the Meghalaya plateau is also rich in mineral resources like coal, iron ore, Sillimanite, limestone and uranium. This area receives maximum rainfall from the South West monsoon. As a result the Meghalaya plateau, especially Cherrapunji, displays a bare rocky surface devoid of any permanent vegetation cover. Highest peak of Meghalaya plateau is Nokrek, which is located in Garo hills.


  1. The Indian Coasts and Islands


The Coastal Plains

The 4,500 km long coastline of India has the Arabian Sea on its west, the Bay of Bengal on its east and the Indian Ocean on its south. It runs from the Rann ofKutch in the west to the delta of the Ganga - Brahmaputra in the east. The coastal plain in India has been divided into the following two types :-


Western Coastal Plains

The Western coastal plains are an example of submerged coastal plain. The Western Coastal Plains include plains along Kutch and Kathiawar regions of Gujarat to Konkan plains of Maharashtra-Goa, Karnataka plains and the Southern Malabar plains along Kerala coast.

It is believed that the city of Dwarka which was once a part of the Indian main land situated along the West coast is submerged under water. Because of submergence it is a narrow belt and provides natural conditions for the development of ports and 0 harbours. It consists of three sections:-

(i)         The Konkan Plains extend from Daman to Goa for a distance of around 500 km with a width varying between 50-80 km.

  • It consists of features of marine erosion as it is a shore line of submergence with a number islands dotting the coast.
  • Mumbai was also islands until some connecting land was recovered from sea.
  • These plains have fertile stretch of land and some sea water inlets called creeks are also there in between.

(ii)         Karnataka or Kannada Coastal Plains stretch from Goa to Mangalore for about 225 km.

  • These are narrow fertile plains. Sharavathi river forms Jog (Gersoppa) falls (271 m) in this region, which is the highest waterfall of India.

(iii)        The Malabar Coastal Plains between Mangalore and Kanyakumari are 500 km long.

  • They are much wider in extent and at places 96 km wide These are low lying plains with extensive presence of lagoons, back waters, spits etc.
  • The back water locally known as Kayals are the shallow lagoons or the inlets of the sea into the region.
  • The largest among these is the Vembanad lake. Several lagoons have joined to form inland water ways.
  • Every year the famous Nehru Trophy Vallamkali (boat race) is held in Punnamada Kayal in Kerala.


Eastern Coastal Plains

As compared to the Western coastal plain the Eastern coastal plain is broader and is an example of an emergent coast. There are well developed deltas here, formed by the rivers flowing Eastward into the Bay of Bengal. Because of its emergent nature, it has less number of ports and harbours. The plains are divided into two parts:-


(i)         Northern Circars: Rivers such as the Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna and the Cauveri have formed extensive deltas on this coast. It comprises the coastal areas of Odisha. Mahanadi forms delta with a thick layer of fine alluvium. Lake Chilka is important here. In South of it, it comprises Andhra coastline upto Krishna delta.

(ii)         Coromandel Coast: South of Northern circars coromandelcoast lies extending Southwards along Tamil Nadu coast.

It covers an area of 23 thousand sq km. These plains constitute a fertile stretch of the cultivation of a range of crop.


The Islands

There are two main groups of islands in the Indian ocean far away from the coast. India has a number of islands (247) both in the Bay of Bengal (204 islands) and the Arabian sea (43 islands). One of them is the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian sea and the other is the Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal.


Lakshadweep Islands

These islands group lies close to the Malabar coast of Kerala. This group of 25 islands is composed of small coral islands. The islands North of \[11\text{ }{}^\circ \] N latitude are known as Aniindivi islands and those South of it are Cannanore islands. They cover small area of 32 sq km.

  • In the extreme South is the Minicoy Island
  • All are tiny Islands of coral origin and are surrounded by fringing reefs.
  • The largest and the most advanced is the Minicoy Island with an area of 4.53 sq km.

Most of the islands have low elevation and do not rise more than 5 m above sea level. Shallow lagoons can be seen on their Western sides while sea slope is steeper towards their Eastern coasts. Kavaratti island is the administrative headquarters of Lakshadweep. The Pitii island, which is uninhabited, has a bird sanctuary.


Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Andaman and Nicobar archipelago has been formed by the extension of the tertiary mountain chains of Arakan Yoma.

These islands lie close to equator and experience equatorial climate and have thick forest cover. Some of the islands are fringed with coral reefs. The entire group of islands is divided into two broad categories: the Andamans in the North and the Nicobars in the South.

The great Andaman group of islands in the North is separated by the Ten Degree Channel from the Nicobar group in the South.

The Andaman islands are sub-divided into four major island groups: North Andaman. Middle Andaman, South Andaman and Little Andaman. Biggest island in Andaman Group is Middle Andaman (1536 sq km) and smallest is Ross island (0.8 km). The capital Port Blair is located on Eastern coast of South Andaman. Barren island and Narcondam island located North of Port Blair are volcanic islands.

Biggest island in Nicobar Group is Great Nicobar (1045 sq km) and smallest is Pilo Milow Island (1.35 sq km). Andaman and Nicobar islands has 4 National Parks and 40 small ports.

  • Little Andaman is separated from the Great Andaman by 50 km wide Duncan passage.
    • Saddle peak (737m) in North Andaman is the highest peak.
  • Barren Island is the only active volcano of India which is situated in Andaman Island.
  • Indira point is situated at Great Nicobar Island.


The Indian Desert

The Great In-dian Desert also called Thar desert lies to the

North-West of the Aravali hills. It spreads over four states namely- Punjab. Haryana. Rajasthan, and Gujarat. It is a land of undulating topography dotted with longitudinal dunes and branches. It has arid climate due to very low rainfall (below 150cm) received by this region.

This region is also called as Marusthali. The underlying rock structure of desert is an extention of the peninsular plateau but its surface features have been covered by physical weathering and wind action due to extreme arid condition in this region.




Mountain Passes in Peninsular India


Bhor Ghat

Bhor ghat in Western ghat joins Mumbai with Pune.

Goran Ghat

In Aravalli hills, joins city of Udaipur with Sirohi in Rajasthan


In Aravalli hills and connects Rajsamand with Pali district in Rajasthan.


In Western ghat, joins Coimbatore with Kochi and Kozhikode. It joins Tamil Nadu with Kerala. The river Gayatri flows through it.


The Great Indian Desert can be divided into two parts: the Northern part is sloping towards Sindh and the Southern towards the Rann of Kutch. Most of the rivers in this region are ephemeral. Luni is one of the most important rivers of this region.


Located in Sahyadri range, joins Nashik with Mumbai. The NH-3 and the Bhopal- Indore railway line pass through it.


States with the Longest Coastline


Length of Coastline (Km)

1. Andaman & Nicobar Islands


2. Gujarat


3. Andhra Pradesh


4. Tamil Nadu


5. Maharashtra






Although India is basically a tropical country, it experiences wide variation in climatic condition depending upon the altitude, latitude, distance from sea and relief. The variability can be observed in number of factors such as:

Western Rajasthan experiences a high temperature during June where as the areas close to Kashmir are relatively experiencing a much lower temperature. The coastal lands are comparatively having a moderate climate due to the nearness of sea.

The amount of rainfall also varies throughout the country. The rainfall in India is primarily governed by Monsoon wind which which generally hits the south west coast of India generally inJune and known as onset of Monsoon. The wind then starts circulating via the Bay of Bengal covering the entire eastern, north eastern and parts of central India. The highest rainfall is experienced in Mawsynram in Meghalaya i.e. 1221 cm of annual rainfall every year. On the other hand in the month of October and November the monsoon trough of Low pressure starts receding from Northern Plain results into rain in Southern India. About 50% to 60% of rainfall in Tamil Nadu is caused due to Retreat of Monsoon form North East.


Rain fall Distribution in India



Amount of Rain fall

Heavy Rainfall (> 200cm)

Moderately Heavy Rainfall (100-200 cm)

Less Rainfall (50-100 cm)

Scanty Rainfall <50cms


West coasts, on the western Ghats, Sub-Himalayan areas in North East and Meghalaya Hills. Assam, West Bengal, Southern slopes of eastern Himalayas.

Southern Parts of Gujarat, East Tamil Nadu, North-eastern Peninsular, Western Ghats, eastern Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orrisa, the middle Ganga valley.

Upper Ganga valley, eastern Rajasthan, Punjab, Southern Plateau of Karnataka, Andhra Pradessh and Tamil Nadu.

Northern part of Kashmir, Western Rajasthan, Punjab and Deccan Plateau





The flow of water through well-defined channels is known as Drainage and the network of such channels is called a drainage system. A river drains the water collected from a specific area, is called its catchment Area. An area drained by a river and its tribuaries is called a Drainae Basin. The boundary line separating one drainage basin from the other is known as watershed.


India is drained by numerous rivers falling either into the

Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea. The Ganga, Brahmaputra, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery are the major river systems draining into the Bay of Bengal, whereas the major river systems draining into the Arabian Sea are the Indus, Sabarmati, Narmada, Tapti and rivers of the west coast farther south. Indian rivers may be classified into four types depending upon the nature of the river, geographical location, source and drainage area covered: Himalayan, peninsular, coastal and rivers of inland drainage basin.



Himalayan Rivers


  • These rivers are perennial as they are generally snow- fed and have reasonable flow throughout the year. During the monsoon the Himalayas receive very heavy rainfall and the rivers discharge the maximum quantity of water causing frequent flood. Brahamputra, Ganga, Jamuna, Ghagra, Gandak, Kosi are the main rivers.
  • Some rivers are older than the mountain themselves. Their gorges are the evidence of it. So, they are also examples of antecedent rivers.


The Major river systems of the Himalayas Drainage

Indus River System

  • Indus along with its tributaries forms one of the largest drainage systems of the world.
    • Also known as Sindhu.
  • The mighty Indus rises near Manasarovar lake from the glaciers of the kailas Range in western Tuber (\[31{}^\circ \]15’N and \[81{}^\circ \]\[40{}^\circ \] E) at an elevation of 5, 182 meters.
  • The Shyok and Gilgit are its important right bank tributaries and the Zaskar is left bank tributary.
  • Indus river ends its mountainous journey at Attock and is joined by the Kabul river from Afghanistan.
  • Just above Mithankot, it receives accumulated waters of five rivers (Panj-nad) Jhelum,Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutluj.
  • Finally, it empties itself in the Arabian Sea near Karachi, making a big delta.
    • It has length of 2900 km from its source to the Arabian sea.
    • It is known as Singi Khamban Tibet.



  • The Jhelum rises in a spring at verinag in the south-eastern part of the kashmir valley.
  • It flows northwards from its source to Wular Lake and further down south-westwards.
  • Lidar, Sind and Pohru are the tributaries of Jhelum in Kashmir.
  • At Muzaffarabad, the river takes a sharp hairpin swing southward and the Kishaganga joins at on its right bank.
  • Thereafter, it forms the India-Pakistan boundary for 170 km and emerges at the Potwar Plateau near Mirpur. It has total length of 724 km.
    • It joins the Chenab at Trimmu.
  • The river is navigable for about 160 km out of a total length of 724 km.



  • It is the largest tributary of the Indus.
  • It originates near the Bara Lacha Pass in the Lahul-Spiti part of the Zaskar Range. The united stream (Chandra and Bhaga) called the Chandrabhaga flows in the north-west direction through Himachal Pradesh and enters Jammu & Kashmir as Chenab river.
    • It enters the plain area near Akhnur in J&K.
    • It cuts a deep gorge near Kishtwar.
    • It receives waters of Jhelum and Ravi rivers.
    • The total length of the river is 1,180 km.



  • It originates from Kullu hills near the Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh.
  • It cuts a deep gorge in the Dhaula Dhar range after crossing Chamba.
  • It enters Punjab Plains near Madhopur and later enters Pakistan 26 km below Amritsar.
  • It debouches into the Chenab a little above Rangpur in Pakistani Punjab.
  • Its total catchment area is 14,442 sq. km of which only 5,957 sq. km lies in India



  • The Beas originates near the Rohtang pass, at a height of 4,062 m above sea level, on the southern and of the Pir Panjal Range, close to the source of the Ravi.
  • It is a comparatively small river which is only 460 km long bout lies entirely within the Indian territory.
  • It crosses the Dhaula Dhar range through a deep gorge from Lorji to Talwara.
  • It debouches on the plain near Pong and meets the Satluj river at Harike.
    • It lies entirely within the Indian territory.



  • It rises from the Mansarovar - Rakas Lake near Darma Pass in western Tibet, where it is also known as Langcher Khambab.
  • In Nari Khorsan province of Tibet, it has created an extraordinary canyon.
    • It is joined by the Spiti river at Namgia near the
  • Shipki La.
  • Before entering the Punjab Plain, it cuts a gorge in Naina Devi Dhar (Bhakra Dam has been constructed here).
    • It enters the plain at Rupnagar (Ropar).
    • It is joined by the Beas at Harike.
  • From near Ferozepur to Fazilka, it forms the boundary between India and Pakistan for nearly 120km.
    • It joins the Indus a few kilometers above Mithankot.
  • Out of its total length of 1,450 km, it flows for 1,050 km in Indian territory.


The Ganga River System

  • It is the Largest in India
  • The total area of the Ganga basin in India is 861,404 sq km which accounts for 26.3% of the geographical area of the country.
  • The Ganga basin covers over 12,500 sq km in northern India.




Uttarakhand & UP


MP & Chhattisgarh


Bihar & Jharkhand




West Bengal






  • The Ganga originates as Bhagirathi from the Gangotri glacier in Uttarkashi District of Uttarakhand at an elevation of 7,010m.
  • Alaknanda joins it at Devaprayag. Pindar river joins it at Karan Prayag and Mandakini or Kali Ganga at Rudra Prayag.
  • The combined waters of the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda flow in the name of the Ganga, below
    • It debouches on plain from hills in Haridwar.
    • Beyond Farakka, it is known as Padma in Bangladesh.
  • It bifurcates itself into Bhagirathi-Hooghly in West Bengal and Padma-Meghna in Bangladesh.
  • The delta formed by the Ganga-Brahmaputra is the largest delta of the world covering an area of 58,752 sq km.
    • Sundarbans is a part of the world’s largest delta.
    • The total length, 2525 km, is distributed among states:

(i) Uttar Pradesh - 1140, (ii) W. Bengal - 520 km,

  • Bihar - 445 km, (iv) Uttrakhand - 310 km.


The Ganga Drainage System

Name of the river


Length (in km)

Area drained (sq km)


Gangotri Glacier at 7,010 m




Yamnotri Glacier at 6,330




Near Mhow (Indore-M.P)




Garhwal district at 3,110 m




Near Guria Mandhota peak




South of Manasarovar

425 in India

46,300 (7,620 in India)


Tibet-Nepal border at 7,620 Sikkim Nepal- Tibet Himalaya

730 in India

86,900 (21,500m India)


Difference between Delta and Estuary



1. The triangular deposits made by rivers at their mouth form Delta.

1. The sharp edged mouth of rivers, devoid of any deposits is known as estuary.

2. Deltas are founded in the regions of 100 tides and coastal plains

2. Regions of high tides and rift valleys witness estuaries.

3. Deltas are fertile lands

3. Estuary does not have festive lands.

4. Ganga, Brahmaputra, Krishna, Kaveri and Mahanadi rivers form Delta

4. Narmada and Tapi rivers form estuaries in Western Ghat.



  • It is the largest and the most important tributary of the Ganga.
  • It originates from the Yamunotri glacier on the
  • Bandarpunch Peak in Garhwal in Uttarakhand.
    • It enters the plains near
  • Tons, a tributary of it, joins it below Kalsi. At this site, the water carried by the Tons is twice the water carried by the Yamuna.
  • It takes a southerly course upto Mathura and south easterly in its onward journey upto Allahabad where it unites with the Ganga.
    • The total leneth of the vamuna from its origin to its confluence



  • It rises near Mhow in the highlands of Janapao Hills (700 m) m MP.
  • It enters a gorge at Chaurasigarh.
  • It joins Yamuna in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • Banas joins it near Sawai Madhopur.
  • Betwa, rising in Bhopal, joins the Yamuna near
  • Dhasan is an important tributary of Betwa



  • It is a large south bank tributary of the Ganga.
  • The Son river springs from the Amarkantak Plateau.
  • It joins the Ganga near Danapur in Patna district.
  • Its catchment area is 71,259 sq km.
  • Almost all the tributaries join it on its right bank.
  • Tributaries are Johilla, Rihand, Kanhar and North Koel.



  • It rises in the hills of the Chotanagpur plateau and flows through a rift valley.
    • It is also called ‘Sorrow of Bengal’
  • It joins the Hugli 48 km below Kolkata.
    • The total length of the river is 541 km.
    • Its catchment area is 25,820 sq km.
    • It is also known as “Biological Desert”


  • It rises in the Garhwal district of Uttaranchal.
  • It enters the Ganga plain near Kalagarh.
  • Its basin covers 32,493 sq km.



  • It originates near the Guria Mandhata peak, south of Manasarovar in Tibet.
    • It is known as the karnali in Western Nepal.
  • It joins Ganga a few kilometres downstream of Chapra in Bihar.
  • The total catchment area of the river is 127,950 sq km out of which 45% is in India.



  • It rises in high glaciers of snow covered region of trans-
    • It forms the boundary between Nepal and Kumaon.
  • It is known as the Sarda or Chauka after it reaches the plains near Tanakpur.



  • It originates near the Tibet-Nepal border.
  • Kali Gandak, Mayangadi, Bari and Trishuli are the major tributaries of it.
  • It debouches into plain at Tribenis and pours into the Ganga at Hajipur in Bihar after flowing for a distance of 425 km in India.
    • Its drainage area is 46,300 sq km out of which 7620 sq km is in India


Burhi Gandak

  • Originating from the western slopes of Sumesar hills near the India-Nepal border, it joins the Ganga opposite Monghyr town.
    • Its length is 610 km and drainage area is 12,200 sqkm.



  • The Kosi river consists of seven streams, namely, Sut Kosi, Tamba Kosi, Talkha, Doodh Kosi, Botia Kosi, Arun and Tamber and is popularly known as Saptkaushiki.
  • Seven rivers mingle with each other to form three streams named the Tumar, Arun and Sun Kosi.
    • Then all three streams unite at Triveni north of the
  • Mahabharat Range to form the Kosi.
    • This river is also known as ‘sorrow of Bihar’.


The Brahmaputra River System

  • The Brahmaputra rises in the great chemayungdung glacier in the Kailas range of the Himalayas.
    • It flows eastward from its source region.
  • Mariam La separates the source of the Brahmaputra from the Manasarovar lake.
  • With a total length of 2900 km, it is one of the longest rivers of the world & passes through Tibet, India and Bangladesh.
  • It is known as Tsangpo (means purifier) in Tibet and Yarlung Zangbo Jiangin in Chinese language.
  • It is one of the most remarkable navigable waterways of the world where boats sail at an altitude of about 3000 metre above sea level.
  • It emerges as a dynamic river after carving out a deep gorge near Namcha Barwa.
  • It emerges from the foothills under the name of Siong or Dihang.
  • It enters India west of Sadiya town in Arunachal Pradesh where it receives the Dibang and the Lohit. From here after ward, it is known as the
    • It has a braided channel along most of its length in Assam.
  • It is among the four largest rivers of the world in terms of volume of discharge at the mouth.
  • The look is like a delta in reverse where Dibang and Lohit rivers meet the Brahmaputra river.
  • Tista, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, was a tributary of the Ganga prior to the devastating floods of 1787.
  • Majuli is the river island of the river Brahmaputra (area- 1250 sq km). Majuli island is Largest riverine island of world. Majuli Island is formally declared district on 8 September 2016.
  • National waterways - 2 is on the Brahmaputra river from Sadiya to Dhubri.


The Peninsular River System

Three main directions of flow:

  • Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery and several The Narmada and the Tapi flowing towards west as well as several small rivers originating from the Western Ghats flow westwards into the Arabian Sea.
  • Tributaries of Ganga and Yamuna such as Chambal, Betwa, Ken, Son and Damodar flow in the north-easterly direction.


The East Flowing Rivers


  • It has its source in Dandakaranya near Sihawa in Raipur district of Chhattisgarh.
  • Its upper course lies in the saucer-shaped basin called the ‘Chhattisgarh Plains’
    • Hirakud dam is built on this river.
  • The main tributaries are Mand, Hasdo, Jonk, and Sheonath.



  • It is the largest river system of the Peninsular India.
  • It is held in reverence as ‘Vridha Ganga’ or ‘Dakshina Ganga’
  • It has a catchment area of 312,812 sq km which covers about 10% of the area of India.
    • It flows in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya
  • Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Karntaka.
  • The source of the river is in the Trimbak Plateau of North Sahyadri near Nasik in Maharashtra and discharges its water into the Bay of Bengal.
  • Manjra is the only important right bank tributary which joins the Godavari near Kondalwadi.
  • Below Rajahmundry, the river Godavari divides itself into two main streams - the Gautami Godavari on the east and the Vashishta Godavari on the west - and forms a large delta before it pours into the Bay of Bengal.



  • It is the second largest east flowing river of Peninsula in India.
    • It rises in Western Ghats near Mahabaleshwar.
  • It debouches into the Bay of Bengal, forming a big delta in arcuate shape.
    • The Koyna, Tungbhadra and Bhima are its major tributaries.
  • Koyna Dam is made on the Koyana river, a tributary of the Krishna river.


Cauvery (Kaveri)

  • It is designated as “the Ganga of the South” or ‘Dakshina Ganga’.
  • Its source lies at Taal Cauvery on the Brahmagiri range of hills in the Western Ghats.
  • Its upper catchment area receives rainfall during summer by the south-west monsoon and the lower catchment area receives rainfall during winter season by the retreating northeast Monsoon.
  • It is one of the best regulated rivers and 90 to 95 % of its irrigation and power potential already stands harnessed.
    • Sivasamudram waterfalls is on this river.
  • The river divides itself into two distinct channels at Srirangam, the northern channel is called Kollidam and the southern one retains thew name Cauvery.



  • It originates from the Ranchi plateau in Jharkhand.
  • It forms the boundary between West Bengal and Orissa in its lower course.
  • Its total length is 395 km.
  • It Joins Bay of Bengal forming an estuary between the Ganga and Mahanadi deltas.



  • It comes into existence by the confluence of the Koel and the Sankh rivers near Rourkela in Odisha.
    • It has a total length of 800 km.
    • Its main tributaries are Kura, Sankhad and Tikra.



  • It springs from the Nandi Durg peak in Karnataka.
  • The total length is 597 km.
  • The principal tributaries are the Jayamangli, the Kunderu, the Chitravari, the Papagani and the Cheyyeru.


The West Flowing Rivers Narmada

  • It is the largest of all the west flowing rivers of the
  • It rises from the Amarkantak plateau in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh.
  • It flows through a rift valley between the Vindhyan Range on the north and the Satpura range on the south.
  • The Dhuandhar (Clouds of Mist) falls is formed by the Narmada river in Jabalpur.
  • It makes an estuary studded with several islands. Aliabet is the largest island.
    • The Sardar Sarovar Project has been constructed on this


Tapi (or Tapti)

  • It is the second largest west flowing river of the Indian
    • It is also known as ‘the twin’ or of the Narmada.
  • It originates from sacred tank of Mulkai on the satpura plateau in Betui district of Madhya Pradesh.
  • The total length of the river is 730 km.
  • Sabarmati This 320 km long river is the name given to tlie combined streams-the Sabar and the Hathmati.
  • It rises from the hills of Mewar in the Aravalli Range.
  • Its tributaries are Hatmati, Sedhi, Wakul, Meshwa, Vatrak etc.



  • It rises in the Vindhyan range and debouches into the Gulf of Khambhat.
    • Its length is 533 km.
    • It drains an area of 34,862 sq km.
  • The main tributaries are Som, Anas and Panam.
    • Mahi river cuts tropic of cancer twice.


Luni (or the Salt River)

  • Its water is brackish below Balotra.
  • Its source lies to the west of Ajmer (Rajasthan) in the Aravallis.
  • The river is known as the Sagarmati in its upper course and from Govindgarh, where Sarsuti joins it, becomes Luni. Finally, it is lost in the Rann of Kachchh.



Inland Drainage


  • Some rivers of India do not reach upto the sea and constitute inland drainage. These rivers are mostly present in the drier regions of the country like Western Rajasthan, Ladakh and Aksai Chin etc. Ghaggar river is the most important example of inland drainage, it is a seasonal stream rising from the lower slopes of Himalayas and is said to flow on the dried bed of ancient river Saraswati. It forms boundary between Punjab and Haryana for much of its length and gets subsumed in Rajasthan desert. Another such river is Luni, which is the largest river of Rajasthan. It originates near Pushkar and flows South-West of Aravalis till it reaches Rann of Kutch.



Famous Cities and River Banks










At the confluence

of the Ganga and       Yamuna (Sangam)






































Ram Ganga



























Annual yield of water


Contribution (%)

















List of the Projects State, Location and their Purpose



S. No.

Name of the Project





Nagarjuna Sagar multi-purpose Project

River Krishna

Andhra Pradesh

Irrigation, Hydroelectncity


Pochampad Project

River Godavari

Andhra Pradesh



Lower Sileru Project

River Sileru (Godavari)

Andhra Pradesh



Kakrapar Project

River Tapi




Kothagudem Project

Singareni Coalfields

Andhra Pradesh

Thermal power


Kosi Project

River Kosi


Flood Control, Irrigation, Hydroelectricity


Gandak Project

River Gandak

Uttar Pradesh. Bihar

Irrigation, Hydroetectncity


Dhuvaran Power Station

Kheda District


Thermal Power


Sabarigiri (Pamba Kakki) Project

River Pamba-Kakki




Idukki Project

Rivers Periyar, Cheruthoni, Idukki




Chambal Project

River Chambal

Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh

Irrigation, Hydroelectricity


Tawa Project

River Tawa (Narmada)

Madhya Pradesh



Korba Project

Near Korba Coalfields


Thermal Power


Satpura Power Station

Patharkada Coalfields

Madhya Pradesh

Thermal Power


Koyna Project

River Koyna




Nagpur Power Station

Koradi, near Nagpur city


Thermal Power


Tungabhadra Multi-purpose Project

River Tungabhadra

Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh

Irrigation, Hydroelectricity


Upper Krishna Project

River Krishna




Sharavathi Project

River Sharavathi, Near Jog Falls




Hirakund multi-purpose Project

River Mahanadi


Irrigation, Hydroelectricity


Mahanadi Delta Project

River Mahanadi




Bhakra Nangal Multi-purpose Project

River Sutlej

Himachal Pradesh, Punjab. Haryana

Irrigation, Hydroelectricity


Rajasthan Canal Project

River Sutlej in Punjab

Rajasthan, Headworks in Punjab



Kundah Project

River Kundah

Tamil Nadu



Ramganga Multipurpose Project

Chuisot Stream near Kalagarh


Irrigation, Hydroelectricity


Matatila Multipurpose Project

River Betwa

Uttar Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh

Irrigation, Hydroelectricity


Riband Scheme

River Rihand

Uttar Pradesh



Damodar Valley Project

River Damodar

Jharkhand, Shared with Wpct Rpncral

Flood Control, Irrigation,



Mahi Project

River Mahi




Ghataprabha Project

River Ghataprabha

Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka



Bhima Project

River Bhima




Sardar Sarovar Project

River Narmada

Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh

Irrigation and Hydroelectricity


Bansagar Project

River Son

Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh



Dul Hasti Project

River Chenab

Jammu and Kashmir



Salal Project

River Chenab

Jammu and Kashmir



Their Dam Project

River Ravi


Irrigation, Hydroelectricity


Malaprabha Project

River Malaprabha




Jayakwadi Project

River Godavari




Beas Project

River Beas

Punjab and Haryana



Sharda Sahayak

River Ghaghra

Uttar Pradesh



Mayurakshi Project

River Mayurkhsi

West Bengal

Irrigation, Hydroelectricitv


Rana Pratap Sagar project

River Chambal




Mettur Project

River Cauvery

Tamil Nadu



Pallivasal Project

River Munnar Abuja




Papanasam Project

River Thamirabarani

Tamil Nadu



Loktak Project

Lake Loktak




Tehri Project

River Bhagirathi (Ganga)




Farakka Project


West Bengal



Daman Ganga

River Daman Ganga


Irrigation and River Link


Gima Project

River Gima (Tributary of Tapi)


Irrigation and River Link


Pamba Project

River Pamba


River Conservation and Irrigation



River Alaknanda





River Narmada

VIadhya Pradesh

Hydropower and Irrigation


Rivers and Disputing States



Disputing States


Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kamataka


Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Kamataka


Kerala, Kamataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry


Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra


Goa and Kamataka


Andhra Pradesh and Odisha

Ravi and Beas

Punjab and Haryana


Kerala and Tamil Nadu



Important Falls in India


Water Fall

Height in Meters



Kunchikal falls




Langshiang falls




Nohkalikai falls








Dudhzagar Fall




Kynoem falls




Meenmutty falls




Thalaiyar falls



Tamil Nadu

Barkana falls




Barchipani falls





Lakes of India

Wular Lake

Jammu & Kashmir

Bhim Tal







Andhra Pradesh





Parashuram Kund

Arunachal Pradesh

Dal Lake

Jammu & Kashmir

Pongong Tso

Jammu & Kashmir

Naini Tal


Tso Morari

Jammu & Kashmir

Salt Lake


Nakki Lake




Pushkar Lake



Andhra Pradesh

Udaipur Lake


Vembanad Kayal


Upper & Lower Lake

Bhopal, MP



Nizam Sagar



                                                  Main Rivers and their tributaries



Left Bank Tributaries

Right Bank Tributaries


Zaskar, Panjnad, Nubra

Shyok, Gilgit, Kabul


Ib, Mand, Hasdo, Sheonath

Ong, Jonk, Tel


Penganga, Wardha, Wainganga, indravati and Sabari



Bhima, Doni, Musi, Muneru

Malprabha, Ghatprabha, Tungabhadra


Herangi, Hemavati, Lokpavani, Srimsha and Arkavati

Laksmantirtha, Kabani, Suvamavati, Bhavani and Amaravati


Burhner, Banjar, Sher, Shakkar, Towa and Kundi

Hiran, Bama, Kolar


Sipra, Kapra, Khursi, Mona, Gima, Bori, Amaravati

Puma, Betui, Patki, Suki, More, Arunavati, Gomai


Gomati, Ghanghara, Gandak, Burhi Gandak and Kosi

Yamuna, Son, Punpun



Chambal, Sind, Betwa, ken


Difference between the Himalayan & the peninsular River


S. No.


Himalayan River

Peninsular River


Place of Origin

Himalayan Mountain covered with glaciers

Peninsular Plateau & Central highland






Type of Drainage

Antecedent & consequent leading to dendritic pattern in plains

Super imposed, rejuvenated resulting in trellis, radial & rectangular patterns



Very large basins

Relatively smaller basin


Depth & Valleys

Rivers form deep vallays & gorges in their source areas

River valleys are often shallow


Flow of water

Cause much erosion & have great flow of water

Create much less erosion & also have weaken flow of water.



Irrigate the northern plains

Irrigate the Deccan Plateau.



Young & active

Old rivers with graded profile.



Longest Rivers Flowing in India



Length (km)


Length (km)















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