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The Peninsular River System

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  • Last Updated : 18 Apr, 2022
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A large number of minor and major rivers make up India’s drainage system. It is the result of the three primary physiographic units’ evolutionary process, as well as the type and properties of precipitation. The Ganga, Indus, and Brahmaputra river basins are all part of the Himalayan drainage system. The Narmada, Tapi, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri all drain the peninsular plateau.

The Peninsular drainage system predates the Himalayan drainage system. The vast, largely-graded shallow basins and the maturity of the rivers attest to this. The Western Ghats, which run close to the western shore, serve as a water divide between the major Peninsular Rivers, which discharge their water into the Bay of Bengal and enter the Arabian Sea as minor rivulets. Except for the Narmada and Tapi, the most of the Peninsular Rivers run from west to east.

Classification of the Drainage System in India

The Indian drainage system may be divided into two types: Himalayan drainage and Peninsular drainage, based on their origins, nature, and features.

  1. Himalayan River systems, majorly includes following river systems – 
    • Indus River System
    • Brahmaputra River System 
    • Ganga River System
  2. Peninsular River Systems, majorly includes following river systems –  
    • Godavari River System
    • Krishna River System 
    • Cauvery River System
    • Mahanadi River System
    • Narmada River System
    • Tapti River System

The Peninsular Rivers

Peninsular rivers are seasonal rivers as their flow is dependent on seasonal rainfall. Even the large area has reduced the flow of water in the dry season. 

These rivers have shorter and shallower courses as compared to their Himalayan counterparts, some of the rivers are originated from western ghats and flow towards the Bay of Bengal or some of them originate in the central high lands and flow towards the west. Here western ghats work as a water divide that runs from north to south close to the western coast. 

Peninsular major Rivers like: the Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna and the Kaveri flow from eastwards and drain into the way of Bengal and these rivers make deltas (triangular-shaped alluvial deposits at the mouth of rivers where they enter the sea) at their mouth. Some peninsular rivers are originated in the central highland and flow towards the west. Narmada and Tapi are the two rivers that flow towards west and make estuaries. The Peninsular drainage system is basically narrow as compared to others.

Peninsular rivers are distinguished by their stable path, lack of meanders, and non-perennial flow of water. 

There is some important basins of Peninsular rivers are,

The Narmada Basin:

The Narmada flows towards the west in a rift valley formed due to faulting or a geological fault and it is originated in Amarkantak hills of MadhyaPradesh. While flowing to sea on its way Narmada has creates many picturesque locations. For Example,

  • The Marble Rocks near Jabalpur where the it flows though a deep gorge.
  • The Dhuandhar falls where the river flow over the steep rocks.

All the stream flowing of Narmada River is short in length and many of these joins the main stream at right angles. Basically, the Narmada Basin covers part of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Madhya Pradesh government has started the Narmada River Conservation Mission under the scheme of named Namami Devi Narmade.

The Tapi Basin:

The Tapi river flows in a rift valley parallel to Narmada river but it is very shorter in length and it is originated in the Satpura Ranges in the Betul district of Madhya Pradesh.

The Tapi Basin covers parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and Maharashtra. Between Western ghats and the Arabian sea, the coastal plains are very narrow. Hence The main flowing rivers from west are Sabarmati, Mahi, Bharathapuzha and Periyar.

The Godavari Basin:

The Godavari River is the largest peninsular river which originates from the slopes of the western Ghats in the Nasik district of Maharashtra. Its length is 1500 km. The Godavari river drains into the Bay of Bengal which is also the largest basin and Largest delta of the Peninsular Rivers. This basin covers parts of Maharashtra, MadhyaPradesh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

Manjra, Wainganga and Penganga, Purna, Wardha and Pranhita are the tributaries of Godavari. Because of its length and cover the Godavari is also known as Dakshin Ganga.

The Mahanadi Basin:

The Mahanadi river flows through orissa to reach Bay of Bengal and rises in the highlands of Chhattisgarh. The length of The Mahanadi River is about 860 km. 

The Mahanadi basin is shared by Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Orissa. The Mahanadi was also known as “the sorrow of Orissa”.

The Krishna Basin:

The Krishna river is the second-largest east-flowing Peninsular river which originates near Mahabaleshwar in Sahyadri and It flows into the Bay of Bengal. Its length is 1400 km. The drainage basin of The Krishna river covers the parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. Some of the tributaries of The Krishna Rivers are Tungabhadra, Koyna, Ghatprabha, Musi and Bhima.

The Kaveri Basin:

The Kaveri river rises in the Brahmagri range of Western Ghats, Kogadu district in Karnataka. It flows through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and reaches Bay of Bengal. The length of river is 760 km.

  • The Drainage basin of The kaveri river has covered Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • The important tributaries of The kaveri river are Amravati, Bhavani, Hemavati and Kabini .
  • The Kaveri river makes the second biggest waterfall in India which is known as Shivanasamudra Falls. 
  • The hydroelectric power generated from this second biggest waterfall falls is supplied to some of the areas like Mysore, Bengaluru and the Kolar Gold Field.
  • The Drainage basin of the Kaveri river receives rainfall during the summer monsoon as well as during the retreating and winter monsoon. Due to this the Kaveri river carries water throughout year that’s why it has less fluctuation as compared to the other Peninsular rivers.

Sample Questions

Question 1: What are the three characteristics of the Himalayan rivers?

Answer: 

Three characteristics of the Himalayan Rivers are –

  1. The majority of Himalayan rivers are perennial. It indicates they have water all year. 
  2. The Himalayan rivers go for a considerable distance from their source to the sea, and many of them form beautiful gorges.
  3. The higher courses of the Himalayan rivers are heavily eroded and carry massive quantities of silt and sand. 

Question 2: Difference between a delta and an estuary?

Answer: 

Delta 

Estuary

These are triangular deposits formed at the mouths of rivers. These are river mouths with sharp edges and no sediments.
These are generated in low-tide zones and coastal plains. These are generated in high-tide areas and rift valleys.
These are fertile agricultural grounds. These aren’t agriculturally productive areas.However, these are the greatest fishing grounds in the world.
Rivers that produce deltas include the Ganga, Krishna, Godavari, and others.  The Narmada and Tapi rivers combine to form the estuary.

Question 3: What is the significance of West Flowing Rivers?

Answer:

  • The source of these rivers is in central India, and they travel westward.
  • These rivers have mouths that are estuaries.
  • They can only carry a little amount of water. 

Question 4: What are East flowing Rivers?

Answer: 

These rivers run eastwards and originate in the western Ghats.At their mouths, these rivers form deltas. They can transport a greater volume of water. 

Question 5: What are the three main features of The Ganga River system?

Answer:  

The main features of The Ganga River System are –

  1. The Ganga is almost 2500 kilometres long and also the longest river in India.
  2. It is characterised by a dendritic drainage pattern. It has several tributaries that flow into it from both the north and south to form the Ganga river basin.
  3. The Ganga river, combined with the Brahmaputra, creates the Sundarban delta, the world’s biggest and fastest expanding delta. 

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