The Ganga River Drainage System & its Tributaries

The Ganga River System

  • It rises in the Gangotri glacier near Gaumukh (3,900 m) in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. Here, it is known as the Bhagirathi.

  • It cuts through the Central and the Lesser Himalayas in narrow gorges. At Devprayag, the Bhagirathi meets the Alaknanda; hereafter, it is known as the Ganga.

  • The Alaknanda has its source in the Satopanth glacier above Badrinath.

  • The Alaknanda consists of the Dhauli and the Vishnu Ganga which meet at Joshimath or Vishnu Prayag.

  • The river has a length of 2,525 km. It is shared by Uttarakhand (110 km) and Uttar Pradesh (1,450 km), Bihar (445 km) and West Bengal (520 km).

  • The Ganga basin covers about 8.6 lakh sq. km area in India alone.

  • The Ganga, and the Brahmaputra, delta formed by these rivers is known as the ‘Sunderban delta.

  • The Sundarban Delta derived its name from the Sundari tree which grows well in marshland.

  • It is the world’s largest and fastest growing delta. It is also the home of Royal Bengal tiger.

  • Pollution threatens many fish species and amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin.

Map of Ganga, Padma and its tributeriesMajor Tributaries of Ganga River System


  • Origin: Yamunotri Glacier, Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand.

  • The longest tributary of the Ganga.

  • Famous tributaries: Chambal, Sind, Betwa & Ken.

  • Much of its water feeds the western and eastern Yamuna and the Agra canals for irrigation purposes.


  • Origin: near Mhow in the Malwa plateau of Madhya Pradesh.

  • Finally joins the Yamuna.

  • It is famous for its badland topography called the Chambal ravines.

  • Major tributaries: Kali Sindh, Parvati & Banas.

  • Main Power Projects: Gandhisagar, Rana Pratap Sagar & Jawahar Sagar


  • Origin: Nepal Himalayas between the Dhaulagiri and Mount Everest and drains the central part of Nepal.

  • Known as ‘Kalyani in Nepal

  • It comprises 2 streams, namely Kaligandak and Trishulganga.

  • It enters the Ganga plain in Champaran district of Bihar and joins the Ganga at Sonpur near Patna.


  • Origin: Glaciers of Mapchachungo near Mansarovar

  • Major tributaries: Sarda & Rakti.

  • The river Sarda (Kali or Kali Ganga) joins it in the plain before it finally meets the Ganga at Chhapra.


  • Origin: Gosainath peak, north of Mount Everest in Tibet.

  • Consists of 7 streams & known as Saptakoshi in Nepal.

  • It forms Sapt Kosi after uniting with the river Arun.

  • Known as ‘Sorrow of Bihar

  • Major Projects: Kusha Dam


  • Comparatively a small river rising in the Garhwal hills near Gairsain.

  • It changes its course to the southwest direction after crossing the Shiwalik and enters into the plains of Uttar Pradesh near Najibabad.

  • Finally, it joins the Ganga near Kannauj.


  • Occupies the eastern margins of the Chotanagpur Plateau where it flows through a rift valley and finally joins the Hugli.

  • The Barakar is its main tributary.

  • Once known as the ‘sorrow of Bengal’, the Damodar has been now tamed by the Damodar Valley corporation, a multipurpose project.


  • Also known as ‘Sarda‘.

  • Origin: Milam glacier in the Nepal Himalayas where it is known as the Goriganga.

  • Along the Indo-Nepal border, it is called Kali or Chauk, where it joins the Ghaghara.


  • Origins: Darjiling hills.

  • It joins the Ganga as its last left bank tributary in West Bengal.


  • Origin: Amarkantak plateau.

  • After forming a series of waterfalls at the edge of the plateau, it reaches Arrah, west of Patna, to join the Ganga.

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