The rivers of India play an important role inthe lives of the Indian people. The riversystems provide irrigation, potable water,cheap transportation, electricity, and thelivelihoods for a large number of people allover the country. This easily explains whynearly all the major cities of India are locatedby the banks of rivers. The rivers also have animportant role in Hindu mythology and areconsidered holy by all Hindus in the country.Seven major rivers along with their numeroustributaries make up the river system of India.Most of the rivers pour their waters into theBay of Bengal; however, some of the riverswhose courses take them through thewestern part of the country and towards theeast of the state of Himachal Pradesh emptyinto the Arabian Sea. Parts of Ladakh,northern parts of the Aravalli range and thearid parts of the Thar Desert have inlanddrainage.
All major rivers of India originate from one of the three main watersheds: 1. The Himalaya and the Karakoram ranges 2. Vindhya and Satpura ranges and Chotanagpur plateau in central India3. Sahyadri or WesternGhats in western India
Rivers of IndiaIndia is sometimes referred to as the "Land of Rivers". Themultitude of tributaries and the close binding of Indiancivilization and culture to the local rivers is the reason forthis characterization. Travel anywhere in India and one isovercome by how much the rivers influence the economyand local cultures. Indeed, Indians have worshipped riversas a form of Mother Goddess from ancient times.
Indus River SystemThe Indus River originates in the northern slopes of the Kailash range nearLake Mansarovar in Tibet. Although most of the rivers course runs throughneighboring Pakistan, a portion of it does run through Indian territory, as doparts of the courses of its five major tributaries, listed below. These tributariesare the source of the name of the Punjab region of South Asia; the name isderived from the Persian words Punj ("five") and aab ("water"), hence thecombination of the words (Punjab) means "five waters" or "land of fivewaters".1. BeasThe Beas originates in Beas Kund, lying nearthe Rohtang pass. It runs past Manali andKulu, where its beautiful valley is known as theKulu valley. It joins the Sutlej river near Harika,after being joined by a few tributaries. The totallength of the river is 615 .
2. ChenabThe Chenab originates from the confluence of tworivers, the Chandra and the Bhaga, It is also knownas the Chandrabhaga in Himachal Pradesh. It runsparallel to the Pir It enters the plains of Punjab nearAkhnur and is later joined by the Jhelum. It isfurther joined by the Ravi and the Sutlej inPakistan.3. JhelumThe Jhelum originates in the south-easternpart of Kashmir, in a spring at Verinag situatedat the foot of the Pir Panjal in the south-eastern part of the valley of Kashmir in India.It flows through Srinagar and the Wular lakebefore entering Pakistan through a deepnarrow gorge.
4. RaviThe Ravi originates near the Rotang pass inthe Himalayas and follows a north-westerlycourse. It turns to the south-west, nearDalhousie, and then cuts a gorge in theDhaola Dhar range entering the Punjab plainnear Madhopur. It flows as a part of the Indo-Pakistan border for some distance beforeentering Pakistan and joining the Chenabriver.5. SutlejThe Sutlej originates from the Rakas Lake,which is connected to the Manasarovar lakeby a stream, in Tibet. It enters Pakistan nearSulemanki, and is later joined by the Chenab.It has a total length of almost 1500 km.
The GangesThe Ganges (pronounced Hindi: गंगा Gaṅgā,as in most Indian languages) is one of themajor rivers of the Indian subcontinent,flowing east through the Gangetic Plain ofnorthern India into Bangladesh. The2,510 km (1,560 mi) river rises in the westernHimalayas in the Uttarakhand state of India,and drains into the Sunderbans delta in theBay of Bengal. It has long been considered aholy river by Hindus and worshiped as thegoddess Ganga in Hinduism.It has also been important historically: many former provincial or imperial capitals(such as Patliputra, Kannauj, Kara, Allahabad, Murshidabad, and Calcutta) have beenlocated on its banks. The Ganges Basin drains 1,000,000-square-kilometre(390,000 sq mi) and supports one of the worlds highest density of humans. Theaverage depth of the river is 52 feet (16 m), and the maximum depth, 100 feet(30 m).
Although many small streams comprise theheadwaters of the Ganges, the six longestheadstreams and their five confluences aregiven both cultural and geographicalemphasis (see the map showing theheadwaters of the river).The Alaknanda river meets the Dhauligangariver at Vishnuprayag, the Nandakini river atNandprayag, the Pindar river at Karnaprayag,the Mandakini river at Rudraprayag and finallythe Bhagirathi river at Devprayag, to form themainstem, the Ganges. The Bhagirathi is thesource stream; it rises at the foot of GangotriGlacier at Gaumukh, at an elevation of3,892 m (12,770 ft). The headwaters of theAlaknanda are formed by snowmelt from suchpeaks as Nanda Devi, Trisul, and Kamet.
After flowing 200 km through its narrow Himalayanvalley, the Ganges debouches on the GangeticPlain at the pilgrimage town of Haridwar. There, adam diverts some of its waters into the GangesCanal, which irrigates the Doab region of UttarPradesh. The Ganges, whose course has beenroughly southwestern until this point, now beginsto flow southeast through the plains of northernIndia.Further, the river follows an 800 km curving coursepassing through the city of Kanpur before beingjoined from the southwest by the Yamuna atAllahabad This point is known as the Sangam atAllahabad. Sangam is a sacred place in Hinduism.According to ancient Hindu texts, at one time athird river, the Sarasvati, met the other two riversat this point.
Joined by numerous rivers such as the Kosi, Son, Gandaki and Ghaghra, the Gangesforms a formidable current in the stretch between Allahabad and Malda in WestBengal. On its way it passes the towns of Kanpur, Soron, Kannauj, Allahabad, Varanasi,Patna,Ghazipur,Bhagalpur,Mirzapur,Ballia, Buxar , Saidpur, and Chunar.At Bhagalpur,the river meanders past the Rajmahal Hills, and begins to run south. At Pakur, theriver begins its attrition with the branching away of its first distributary, theBhāgirathi-Hooghly which goes on to form the Hooghly River. Near the border withBangladesh the Farakka Barrage, built in 1974, controls the flow of the Ganges,diverting some of the water into a feeder canal linking the Hooghly to keep itrelatively silt-free.river system.After entering Bangladesh, the main branch of theGanges is known as the Padma River until it is joined bythe Jamuna River, the largest distributary of theBrahmaputra. Further downstream, the Ganges is fed bythe Meghna River, the second largest tributary of theBrahmaputra, and takes on the Meghnas name as itenters the Meghna Estuary. Fanning out into the 350 kmwide Ganges Delta, it finally empties into the Bay ofBengal. Only two rivers, the Amazon and the Congo, havegreater discharge than the combined flow of the Ganges,the Brahmaputra and the Surma-Meghna.
There are two major dams on the Ganges. One at Haridwar diverts much of the Himalayan snow-melt into the Upper Ganges Canal, built by the British in 1854 to irrigate the surrounding land. This caused severe deterioration to the water flow in the Ganges, and is a major cause for the decay of Ganges as an inland waterway.The other dam is a serious hydroelectric affairat Farakka, close to the point where the mainflow of the river enters Bangladesh, and thetributary Hooghly (also known as Bhagirathi)continues in West Bengal past Calcutta. Thisbarrage, which feeds the Hooghly branch ofthe river by a 26 mile long feeder canal, and itswater flow management has been a long-lingering source of dispute with Bangladesh,
A branch of the Hooghly, the Damodar, flows south and enters the Bay of Bengal at the growing port of Haldia. It has the large hydroelectric dam called Damodar Valley Project, built on the lines of the Tennessee Valley Authority. There is also a controversial dam at Tehri, on the Bhagirathi, one of the main source rivers of Ganges. Another dam is proposed to be built on the upper reaches of a tributary of the Ganges, Mahakali, This Indo-Nepal project, the Pancheswar dam, proposes to be the highest dam in the world and will be built with US collaboration.The upper and lower Ganga canal, which is actually thebackbone of a network of canals, runs from Haridwar toAllahabad, but maintenance has not been very good.Tehri Dam is also constructed on Bhagirathi river,tributory of ganga. Main purpose was to supply water toNew Delhi.
The Ganges Basin with its fertile soil is instrumental tothe agricultural economies of India and Bangladesh.The Ganges and its tributaries provide a perennialsource of irrigation to a large area. Chief cropscultivated in the area include rice, sugarcane, lentils,oil seeds, potatoes, and wheat. Along the banks of theriver, the presence of swamps and lakes provide a richgrowing area for crops such as legumes, chillies,mustard, sesame, sugarcane, and jute. There are alsomany fishing opportunities to many along the river,though it remains highly polluted.Tourism is another related activity. Three towns holy toHinduism – Haridwar, Allahabad, and Varanasi – attractthousands of pilgrims to its waters. Thousands of Hindu pilgrimsarrive at these three towns to take a dip in the Ganges, which isbelieved to cleanse oneself of sins and help attain salvation. Therapids of the Ganges also are popular for river rafting, attractinghundreds of adventure seekers in the summer months. Muslimsfrom India & Bangladesh often do wudu, a religious cleansing ofthe body for prayer in the Ganges River.
The BrahmaputraThe Brahmaputra,[also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and oneof the major rivers of Asia.From its origin in southwestern Tibet as the Yarlung Zangbo River, it flows acrosssouthern Tibet to break through the Himalayas in great gorges and into ArunachalPradesh where it is known as Dihang. It flows southwest through the Assam Valley asBrahmaputra and south through Bangladesh as the Jamuna (not to be mistaken withYamuna of India). There it merges with the Ganges to form a vast delta. About 1,800miles (2,900 km) long, the river is an important source for irrigation and transportation.Its upper course was long unknown, and its identity with the Yarlung Tsangpo was onlyestablished by exploration in 1884-86.
This river is often called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river. The average depth of river is124 feet (38 m) and maximum depth is 380 feet (120 m). In Bangladesh the river mergeswith the Ganges and splits into two: the Padma and Meghna River. When it merges withthe Ganges it forms the worlds largest delta, the Sunderbans. The Sunderbans is knownfor tigers, crocodiles and mangroves. While most Indian and Bangladeshi rivers bearfemale names, this river has a rare male name, as it means "son of Brahma" in Sanskrit(putra means "son").The Brahmaputra is navigable formost of its length. The lower partreaches are sacred to Hindus. Theriver is prone to catastrophicflooding in spring when theHimalayan snows melt. It is also oneof the few rivers in the world thatexhibit a tidal bore.
River courseThe Yarlung Tsangpo originates in the JimaYangzong glacier near Mount Kailash in thenorthern Himalayas. It then flows east forabout 1,700 kilometres (1,100 mi), at anaverage height of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft), andis thus the highest of the major rivers in theworld. At its easternmost point, it bendsaround Mt. Namcha Barwa, and forms theYarlung Tsangpo Canyon which is consideredthe deepest in the world.Until Indian independence in 1947, theBrahmaputra was used as a major waterway.In the 1990s, the stretch between Sadiya andDhubri in India was declared as NationalWaterway No.2., and it provides facilities forgoods transportation. Recent years have seena modest spurt in the growth of river cruiseswith the introduction of the cruise ship,"Charaidew," by Assam Bengal Navigation
As the river enters Arunachal Pradesh, it is called Siang and makes a very rapid descentfrom its original height in Tibet, and finally appears in the plains, where it is calledDihang. It flows for about 35 kilometres (22 mi) and is joined by two other major rivers:Dibang and Lohit. From this point of confluence, the river becomes very wide and iscalled Brahmaputra. It is joined in Sonitpur District by the Jia Bhoreli (named theKameng River where it flows from Arunachal Pradesh) and flows through the entirestate of Assam. In Assam the river is sometimes as wide as 10 kilometres (6.2 mi).Between Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur districts the riverdivides into two channels---the northern Kherkutiachannel and the southern Brahmaputra channel. Thetwo channels join again about 100 kilometres (62 mi)downstream forming the Majuli island. At Guwahatinear the ancient pilgrimage center of Hajo, theBrahmaputra cuts through the rocks of the ShillongPlateau, and is at its narrowest at 1 kilometre(1,100 yd) bank-to-bank. Because the Brahmaputra isthe narrowest at this point the Battle of Saraighat wasfought here. The first rail-cum-road bridge across theBrahmaputra was opened to traffic in April 1962 atSaraighat.
The SutlejThe Sutlej River is the longest of the five rivers that flowthrough the historic crossroad region of Punjab innorthern India and Pakistan. It is located north of theVindhya Range south of the Hindu Kush segment of theHimalayas, and east of the Central Sulaiman Range inPakistan.The Sutlej is sometimes known as the Red River. It isthe easternmost tributary of the Indus River Itssource is at Lake Rakshastal in Tibet near MountKailas, and it flows generally west and southwestentering India through the Shipki La pass in HimachalPradesh. It waters the ancient and historicallyimportant region of Greater Punjab. The region to itssouth and east is arid, and is known as the GreatIndian Desert or Thar Desert.
The Sutlej joins with the Beas River in Hari-Ke-Patan, Amritsar, Punjāb, India, and continues southwest into Pakistan to unite with the Chenab River, forming the Panjnad River south of ancient Multān.The Panjnad joins the Indus River atMithankot. Indus then flows through agorge near Sukkur, flows through thefertile plains region of Sindh, andterminates in the Arabian Sea near theport city of Karachi in Pakistan.
The waters of the Sutlej are allocated to India underthe Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan,and are mostly diverted to irrigation canals in India.A huge, multipurpose Bhakra-Nangal Dam has beenbuilt on the Sutlej by the Indian government.There are several major hydroelectric projects onthe Sutlej, e.g. the 1000MW Karcham-Wangtoo HEP.There has been a proposal to build a 214-kilometre(133 mi) long heavy freight canal, known as theSutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL), in India to connect theSutlej and Yamuna rivers. However, the proposalmet obstacles and was referred to the SupremeCourt.The Sutlej was known as Śutudri in the Vedic .
The Sutlej, along with all of the Punjab rivers, is thought to have drained east into the Ganges prior to 5 mya. There is substantial geologic evidence to indicate that prior to 1700 BC at the latest, Sutlej was an important tributary of the Ghaggar-Hakra River (possibly through the Saraswati river) rather than the Indus with various authors putting the redirection from 2500-2000 BC or 5000-3000 BC.Geologists believe that tectonic activitycreated elevation changes whichredirected the flow of Sutlej from thesoutheast to the southwest. The mightySaraswati then began to dry up, causingdesertification of Cholistan and theeastern part of the modern state ofSindh. The desertification resulted inabandonment of numerous ancienthuman settlements along the banks ofSaraswati[
There is some evidence that the high rate of erosion caused by the modern SutlejRiver has influenced the local faulting and rapidly exhumed rocks above Rampur.This would be similar to, but on a much smaller scale then, the exhumation of rocksby the Indus River in Nanga Parbat, Pakistan. The Sutlej river also exposes a doubledinverted metamorphic gradientThe source of the Sutlej is just west of Mt. Kailash in western Tibet. This is roadlessarea, and was first explored by kayak and raft by Russian and German teams in2004.The largest modern industrial city along the Sutlej banks is Ludhiana.
The YamunaThe Yamuna is the largest tributary river of theGanges (Ganga) in northern India. Originating fromthe Yamunotri Glacier at a height 6,387 mtrs., on thesouth western slopes of Banderpooch peaks, in theLower Himalayas, it travels a total length of1,376 kilometers (855 mi) and has a drainage systemof 366,223 km2, 40.2% of the entire Ganga Basin,before merging with the Ganges at Triveni Sangam,Allahabad, the site for the Kumbha Mela everytwelve years.
It crosses several states, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, passing byHimachal Pradesh and later Delhi, and meets several of its tributaries on the way,including Tons, its largest and longest tributary, Chambal, which has its own largebasin, followed by Sindh, the Betwa, and Ken.Most importantly it creates the highly fertile alluvial,Yamuna-Ganga Doab region between itself and theGanges in the Indo-Gangetic plain. Nearly 57 millionpeople depend on the Yamuna waters. With an annualflow of about 10,000 cubic metres (cum) and usage of4,400 cum (of which irrigation constitutes 96 per cent),the river accounts for more than 70 per cent of Delhi’swater supplies.Just like the Ganges, the Yamuna too is highlyvenerated in Hinduism and worshipped as goddessYamuna, throughout its course. In Hindu mythology,she is the daughter of Sun God, Surya, and sister ofYama, the God of Death, hence also known as Yami,and according to popular legends, bathing in its sacredwaters frees one from the torments of death .
The water of Yamuna is of "reasonably good quality" through its length fromYamunotri in the Himalayas to Wazirabad in Delhi, about 375 km, where thedischarge of waste water through 15 drains between Wazirabad barrage andOkhla barrage renders the river severely polluted after Wazirabad in Delhi. Oneofficial describes the river as a "sewage drain" with biochemical oxygen demand(BOD) values ranging from 14 to 28 mg/l and high coliform content.There are three main sources of pollution in the river,namely households and municipal disposal sites, soilerosion resulting from deforestation occurring to makeway for agriculture along with resulting chemical wash-offfrom fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides and run-offfrom commercial activity and industrial sites.
The source of Yamuna lies in the Yamunotri Glacier at a height 6,387 mtrs., on thesouth western slopes of Banderpooch peaks, which lie in the Mussoorie range ofLower Himalayas, in the Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand, north of Haridwar.Yamunotri temple, a shrine dedicated to the goddess, Yamuna is one of the holiestshrines in Hinduism, and part of the Chota Char Dham Yatra circuit. Also standingclose to the temple, on its 13 km trek route, that follows the right bank of the river,lies the Markendeya Tirtha, where the sage Markandeya wrote the MarkandeyaPurana.
From here it flows southwards, for about 200 kmthrough the Lower Himalayas and the Shivalik HillsRange and morainic deposited are found in its steepUpper Yamuna valley, highlighted with geomorphicfeatures such as interlocking spurs, steep rockbenches, and stream terraces.Large terraces formed over a long period of time canbe seen in the lower course of the river, like onesnear Naugoan. An important part of its earlycatchment area totalling 2,320 km² lies in HimachalPradesh, and an important tributary draining theUpper Catchment Area is the Tons, Yamunas largestand longest tributary, which rises from the Hari-ki-dun valley and holds water more than the mainstream, which it merges after Kalsi near Dehradun.The entire drainage system of the river stretches allthe way between Giri-Sutlej catchment in Himachaland Yamuna-Bhilangna catchment in Garhwal,indeed the southern ridge of Shimla is also drainedinto this system.
Other tributaries in the region are the Giri, Rishi Ganga, Kunta, Hanuman Ganga and Batatributaries, which drain the Upper Catchment Area of the vast Yamuna basin. Thereafterthe river descends on to the plains of Doon Valley, at Dak Pathar near Dehradun. Herethrough a weir dam, the water is diverted into a canal for power generation, little furtherdown where Yamuna is met by the Assan River, lies the Assan barrage, which hosts a BirdSanctuary as well.After passing the Sikh pilgrimage town of Paonta Sahib, it reaches Tajewala in YamunaNagar district, of Haryana, where a dam built in 1873, is the originating place of twoimportant canals, the Western Yamuna Canal and Eastern Yamuna Canal, which irrigatethe states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.The Western Yamuna Canal (WYC) crosses YamunaNagar, Karnal and Panipat before reaching the Haiderpurtreatment plant, which supplies part of municipal watersupply to Delhi, further it also receives waste water fromYamuna Nagar and Panipat cities. Yamuna is replenishedagain after this by seasonal streams and groundwateraccrual, in fact during the dry season, it remains dry inmany stretches from Tajewala till Delhi, where it entersnear Palla village after traversing 224 km.
The Yamuna also creates natural state borders between the HimachalPradesh and Uttarakhand states, and further down between the state ofHaryana and Uttar Pradesh. Along with Ganga to which run almost parallelafter it touches the Indo-Gangetic plain, the largest alluvial fertile plain inthe world, it creates the Ganga-Yamuna Doab region spread across69,000 km2, one-third of the entire plain, and today known for itsagricultural outputs, prominent among them is the cultivation of BasmatiRice. The plain itself supports one-third of Indias population through itsfarming.
State Catchment area (km2) Subsequently, it flows through the states of Delhi, Haryana andUttar Pradesh and 74,208Uttarakhand Uttar Pradesh, before merging with the Ganges at a sacred spotHimachal Pradesh 5,799 known as Triveni Sangam inHaryana 21,265 Allahabad after traversing a distance of 1,376 kilometersRajasthan 102,883 (855 miles). Here pilgrims travelMadhya Pradesh 14,023 by boats to platforms erected mid stream to offer prayers.Delhi 1,485During the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years, the ghats aroundthe Sangam are venue of large congregation of people, who takedip in the sacred waters of the confluence. The cities of Baghpat,Delhi, Noida, Mathura, Agra, Firozabad, Etawah, Kalpi, Hamirpur,Allahabad lie on its banks. At Etawah, it meets it anotherimportant tributary, Chambal, followed by a host of tributariesfurther down, including, Sindh, the Betwa, and Ken.
TributariesTons River, Yamunas largest and longest tributary, rises inthe 20,720 ft (6,315 meters) high Bandarpoonch mountain,and has a large basin in Himachal Pradesh. It meets Yamunabelow Kalsi near Dehradun, Uttarakhand.Hindon River, originates in the Saharanpur District, fromUpper Shivalik in Lower Himalayan Range, is entirely rainfedand has a catchment area of 7, 083 km2, traverses 400 kmthrough Muzaffarnagar District, Meerut District, BaghpatDistrict, Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, before joiningYamuna just outside Delhi.
Ken River, flows through Bundelkhand regionof Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, itoriginates near village Ahirgawan in Jabalpurdistrict and travels a distance of 427 km,before merging with the Yamuna at Chillavillage, near Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh, andhas an overall drainage basin of 28,058 km2.Chambal River, known as Charmanvati inancient times, flows through Rajasthan andMadhya Pradesh, with a drainage basin of143,219 km2 and traverses a total distance of960 km, from its source in Vindhya Range, nearMhow and support hydro-power generation atGandhi Sagar dam, Rana Pratap Sagar dam andJawahar Sagar dam, before merging into theYamuna south east of Sohan Goan, in Etawahdistrict, shortly there after followed by anothertributary, the Sindh River.
IrrigationThe importance of Yamuna in the Indo-Gangetic Plains is enhanced by its manycanals, some dating back to as early as 14th century CE by Tughlaq dynasty, whichbuilt the Nahr-i-Bahisht (Paradise), parallel to the river, it was later restored andextended by the Mughals in the first half of seventeenth century, by engineer AliMardan Khan, starting from Benawas where the river enters the plains andterminating near the Mughal capital, Shahjahanabad, the present city of Delhi .As the Yamuna enters the Northern plains nearDak Pathar at a height of 790 meters, twocanals namely, the Eastern and WesternYamuna Canals commence from the Assanbarrage about 11 kilometers from Dak Patharin Doon Valley, the canals irrigate vast tracts oflands in the region, then once its passes Delhi,it feeds the Agra Canal built in in 1874, whichstarts from Okhla barrage beyond theNizamuddin bridge, and the high land betweenthe Khari-Nadi and the Yamuna and beforejoining the Banganga river about 20 milesbelow Agra. Thus during the summer season,the stretch above Agra resembles a minorstream.
A heavy freight canal, known as the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL), is being builtwestwards from near its headwaters through the Punjab region near anancient caravan route and highlands pass to the navigable parts of theSutlej-Indus watershed. This will connect the entire Ganges, which flows tothe east coast of the subcontinent, with points west (via Pakistan).When completed, the SYL will allow shippingfrom Indias east coast to the west coast andthe Arabian sea, drastically shortening shippingdistances and creating important commerciallinks for north-central Indias large population.The canal starts near Palla village near Delhi,and was to transfer Haryanas share of 3.5MAF from Indus Basin, though state ofHaryana has completed its portion, Punjab isagainst its construction, and the statelegislature passed the "Punjab Termination ofAgreement Act 2004", which declared earlieragreements null and void.
Geography and wildlifeThe catchment area of the river, especially till its touches the plains, is replete withAlpine, semi alpine, temperate and sub-tropical vegetation, and vast areas areunder forest over, and supports extensive animal life.Yamuna is the frontier of the Asian Elephant. West of the Yamuna, there are noelephants to be found over 900 km of the western Himalayas and their foothills.The forests of the lower Yamuna offer ideal corridors for elephant movement. Theprincipal forests to be found here are of sal , khair (acacia) , and sissoo (rosewood)trees, and the Chir Pine forests of the Shivalik Hills.
The NarmadaThe Narmada is a river in central India and the fifth largest river in the Indiansubcontinent. Narmada is a Sanskrit word meaning the Giver of Pleasure . It formsthe traditional boundary between North India and South India and flows westwardsover a length of 1,312 km (815.2 mi) before draining through the Gulf of Cambey(Khambat) into the Arabian Sea, 30 km (18.6 mi) west of Bharuch city of Gujarat.
It is one of only three major rivers in pensinsular India that runs from east to west(largest west flowing river) along with the Tapti River and the Mahi River. It is theonly river in India that flows in a rift valley flowing west between the Satpura andVindhya ranges although the Tapti River and Mahi River also flow through rift valleysbut between different ranges.It flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh (1,077 km (669.2 mi)), Maharashtra,(74 km (46.0 mi))– (35 km (21.7 mi)) border between Madhya Pradesh andMaharashtra and (39 km (24.2 mi) border between Madhya Pradesh and Gujaratand in Gujarat (161 km (100.0 mi)).
The source of the Narmada is a small tank called Narmada Kund located on theAmarkantak hill (1,057 m (3,467.8 ft)), in the Shahdol District of eastern MadhyaPradesh. The river descends from the Amarkantak hill range at the Kapildhara fallsover a cliff and meanders in the hills flowing through a tortuous course crossingthe rocks and islands up to the ruined palace of Ramnagar. Between Ramnagarand Mandla, (25 km (15.5 mi)), further southeast, the course is comparativelystraight with deep water devoid of rocky obstacles.The Banger joins from the left. The river then runsnorth–east in a narrow loop towards Jabalpur. Closeto this city, after a fall of some (9 m (29.5 ft)), calledthe Dhuandhara, the fall of mist, it flows for (3 km(1.9 mi)), in a deep narrow channel through themagnesium limestone and basalt rocks called theMarble Rocks; from a width of about 90 m (295.3 ft),above, it is compressed in this channel of (18 m(59.1 ft)), only. Beyond this point up to its meeting theArabian Sea, the Narmada enters three narrow valleysbetween the Vindhya scarps in the north and theSatpura range in the South. The southern extension ofthe valley is wider at most places. These three valleysections are separated by the closely approaching lineof the scarps and the Satpura hills.
Emerging from the Marble Rocks the river enters its first fertile basin, which extendsabout 320 km (198.8 mi), with an average width of 35 km (21.7 mi), in the south. Inthe north, the valley is limited to the Barna–Bareli plain terminating at Barkhara hillsopposite Hoshangabad.However, the hills again recede in the Kannod plains. The banks are about (12 m(39.4 ft)) high. It is in the first valley of the Narmada that many of its importanttributaries from the south join it and bring the waters of the northern slopes of theSatpura hills. Among them are: the Sher, the Shakkar, the Dudhi, the Tawa (biggesttributary) & the Ganjal. The Hiran, the Barna, the Choral, the Karam and the Lohar arethe important tributaries joining from the north.
Below Handia and Nemawar to Hiran fall (the deers leap), the river is approached byhills from both sides. In this stretch the character of the river is varied. TheOmkareshwar island, sacred to the Lord Shiva, is the most important river island inMadhya Pradesh. At first, the descent is rapid and the stream, quickening in pace, rushes over a barrier of rocks. The Sikta and the Kaveri join it below the Khandwa plain. At two points, at Mandhar, about40 km (24.9 mi), below Nemawar, and Dadrai, 40 km (24.9 mi), further down near Punasa, the river falls over a height of about 12 m (39.4 ft).
A few kilometres further down near Bareli and the crossing ghat of the Agra to Mumbai road, National Highway No 3, the Narmada enters the Mandleshwar plain, the second basin about 180 km (111.8 mi) long and 65 km (40.4 mi) wide in the south. The northern strip of the basin is only 25 km (15.5 mi).The second valley section is broken only bySaheshwar Dhara fall. The early course ofabout 125 km (77.7 mi) up to Markari falls ismet with a succession of cataracts and rapidsfrom the elevated table land of Malwa to thelow level of Gujarat plain. Towards the west ofthis basin, the hills draw very close but soondwindle down.
Below Makrai, the river flows between Vadodara district and Narmada district and then meanders through the rich plain of Bharuch district of Gujarat state. The banks are high between the layers of old alluvial deposits, hardened mud, gravels of nodular limestone and sand. The width of the river spans from about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) at Makrai to 3 km (1.9 mi) near Bharuch and to an estuary of 21 km (13.0 mi) at the Gulf of Khambat.An old channel of the river, 1 km (0.6 mi) to2 km (1.2 mi) south from the present one, isvery clear below Bharuch. The Karanjan andthe Orsing are the most important tributariesin the original course. The former joins atRundh and the latter at Vyas in Vadodaradistrict of Gujarat, opposite each other andform a Triveni (confluence of three rivers) onthe Narmada. The Amaravati and the Bhukhiare other tributaries of significance. Oppositethe mouth of the Bhukhi is a large drift calledAlia Bet or Kadaria Bet.
The tidal rise is felt up to 32 km (19.9 mi) above Bharuch, where the neap tidesrise to about a metre and spring tide 3.5 m (11.5 ft). The river is navigable forvessels of the burthen of 95 tonnes (i.e., 380 Bombay candies) up to Bharuch andfor vessels up to 35 tonnes (140 Bombay candies) up to Shamlapitha orGhangdia. The small vessels (10 tonnes) voyage up to Tilakawada in Gujarat. There are sand bases and shoals at mouth and at Bharuch. The nearby island of Kabirvad, in the Narmada River, features a gigantic Banyan tree, which covers 10,000 square metres (2.5 acres).
Narmada basinThe Narmada basin, hemmed betweenVindya and Satpuda ranges, extends overan area of 98,796 km2 (38,145.3 sq mi) andlies between east longitudes 72 degrees32 to 81 degrees 45 and north latitudes21 degrees 20 to 23 degrees 45 lying onthe northern extremity of the DeccanPlateau. The basin covers large areas in thestates of Madhya Pradesh (86%), Gujarat(14%) and a comparatively smaller area(2%) in Maharashtra. In the river course of1,312 km (815.2 mi) explained above,there are 41 triburaries, out of which 22are from the Satpuda range and the reston the right bank are from the Vindhyarange.
The basin has five well defined physiographic regions. They are:(1) The upperhilly areas covering the districts of Shahdol, Mandla, Durg, Balaghat and Seoni,(2) The upper plains covering the districts of Jabalpur, Narsimhapur, Sagar,Damoh, Chhindwara, Hoshangabad, Betul, Raisen and Sehore, (3) The middleplains covering the districts of East Nimar, part of west Nimar, Dewas, Indoreand Dhar, (4) The lower hilly areas covering part of the west Nimar, Jhabua,Dhulia, Narmada and parts of Vadodara, and (5) the lower plains covering mainlythe districts of Narmada Bharuch, and parts of Vadodara.The hill regions are well forested. Theupper, middle and lower plains arebroad and fertile areas, well suited forcultivation. The Narmada basinmainly consists of black soils. Thecoastal plains in Gujarat arecomposed of alluvial clays with a layerof black soils on the surface.
The valley experiences extremes of hydro-meteorological and climatic conditions with theupper catchment having an annual precipitation inthe range of1,000 mm (3.3 ft) to 1,850 mm (6.1 ft)and with half or even less than half in its lowerregions (650 mm (2.1 ft)–750 mm (2.5 ft)); thediversity of vegetation from lushgreen in theupper region to dry deciduous teak forestvegetation in the lower region is testimony to thisfeature. The Irrigation Commission (1972) identified the Narmada basin in Madhya Pradesh as drought affected and a large part of North Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch as semi- arid or arid scarcity regions on account of extreme unreliability of rainfall, rendering them ‘chronically’ drought prone and subject to serious drinking water problems.