Which is the longest river in India? | Top 5 longest rivers in India

India is a land of rivers. Without the rivers, India would not have been able to sustain such a large population. Most rivers of India flow throughout the year and have the maximum flow during the monsoon season. Rivers can be ranked based on various factors e.g. amount of discharge, total length, basin area, etc. This article ranks the rivers of India based on their length within India. Ganga is the longest river in India. The next four rivers might surprise you. Here are the top 5 longest rivers in India.

Top 5 longest rivers in India

1. Ganga (Ganges)

Ganga is the longest river in India. It has a length of 2,525 Kilometers from the source Gangotri glacier to the Bay of Bengal (calculated along the Hooghly). Indus and Brahmaputra are longer than Ganga but their length within India is shorter.

The river which originates from the Gomukh (the terminus of the Gangotri glacier) is Bhagirathi. At Devprayag the Bhagirathi joins the Alaknanda River and the river thereafter is known as Ganga. However, the total length is not calculated from Devprayag, rather from Gomukh.

A beautiful picture of Sun setting over the Ganges
Image by Ton W from Pixabay

Ganga is one of the most important rivers of North India. It runs through Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal providing water for different purposes.

2. Godavari

The Godavari is the second-longest river in India with a total length of 1,465 kilometers. The river originates near Trimbak city of Nashik district in Maharashtra. The river runs through Maharashtra, Telangana, Chhattisgarh (only the border area of Telangana-Chhattisgarh), and Andhra Pradesh before draining into the Bay of Bengal.

Godavari river
Godavari river

Just like the Ganga, Godavari is also considered sacred in India. The Kumbh Mela is organized along the banks of Godavari in Nashik.

3. Krishna

Krishna river

The Krishna River flows almost parallelly south of the Godavari river. The river runs for 1,400 kilometers from its source in the Satara district, Maharashtra to the Bay of Bengal. The river runs through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. Major tributaries of Krishna are Tungabhadra and Bhima.

4. Yamuna

The Yamuna is the largest tributary of Ganga. It has a total length of 1,376 kilometers. The Yamuna river originates from Yamunotri in Uttarakhand. The river flows through the historic cities of Delhi, Mathura, and Agra before joining the Ganga at Prayagraj. Major tributaries of Yamuna are Chambal and Betwa.

Yamuna river in the Himalayas
Yamuna river in the mountains

The Yamuna is one of the most polluted rivers in India. It is infamous for its black color. A large amount of industrial effluents and sewage is discharged into the river as the river flows through big cities.

Yamuna river near Agra
Yamuna river in the Plains

5. Narmada

Narmada river
Narmada river

The Narmada river originates in Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh, runs westwards, and drains into the Arabian sea. The total length of the river is 1,312 kilometers and is the longest West flowing river in India. Narmada river is the lifeline of Madhya Pradesh with its drainage basin area covering many major cities including Hoshangabad and Bhopal. Major tributaries of Narmada are Tawa River and Hiran River.

Some other important rivers in India

Indus

Indus river is longer than Ganga but its length within India is only 1,114 kilometers. Indus originates from the Tibetan plateau near Lake Mansarovar and flows through India and Pakistan and finally drains into the Arabian sea.

Brahmaputra

The Brahmaputra is one of the longest rivers in the world. It also originates in the Tibetan plateau near Lake Mansarovar like the Indus. The river flows eastwards in the Tibetan plateau then takes a sharp U-turn to enter Arunachal Pradesh, India. The length of the Brahmaputra in India is 916 kilometers.

Kaveri (Cauvery)

The Cauvery river flows through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The 800 km long Kaveri is considered sacred and worshipped as a Goddess. It is the most important river in Tamil Nadu for agriculture. The river originates in the Kodagu district of Karnataka and flows eastwards into the Bay of Bengal.

Tapi (Tapti)

Length- 724 kilometers

Bhima river

Length- 861.35 kilometers

Mahanadi

Length- 851 kilometers


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