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India's river system comprises
The Himalayan Rivers,
The Deccan Rivers,
The coastal rivers and
The rivers of the inland drainage basin.

The snow-fed rivers of the Himalayas are perennial and they flood during the winter. The rain-fed rivers of the Deccan Plateau are non-perennial and have an uncertain flow.

Also most of the western coastal rivers are non-perennial because they have limited catchments area. Many of them are non-perennial. The fourth type consists of rivers of western Rajasthan and is very few, like the Sambhar, which is lost in the desert sands, and the Loni, that drains into the Rann of Kutch.


The largest river basin of India is the Ganga basin, receiving water from an area bounded by the Himalayas in the north and the Vindhyas in the South. The Ganga, the Yamuna, the Ghagra, Gandak and Kosi are the main constituents. The second is the Godavari basin; the third is the Krishna basin, which is the second largest river in peninsular India. The Mahanadi traverses through this basin. The Narmada basin, and that of the Tapti and the Panner are smaller ones, though they are agriculturally important.

In India, rivers are considered holy with lot of reverence. People take bath in these holy rivers during special occasions with a belief that their sins would be wiped off! Of all, the Ganges is the longest with a length of 2500 kms. It rises in the Himalayas and empties into the Bay of Bengal. The Brahmaputra rises in Tibet and ends up in the Bay of Bengal after traveling a distance of around 2900 kms. The Mahanadi, the Godaveri, the Krishna and the Kaveri of Peninsular India flow into the Bay of Bengal while the Narmada and the Tapti end up in the Arabian Sea.