The Peninsular River System
- The Peninsular River system predates the Himalayan system, as evidenced by the broad, gradually sloping valleys and the maturity of the rivers. These rivers follow the relief pattern of the plateau, and except for those flowing through fault valleys, they have gentle slopes.
Evolution of the Peninsular River System:
- Firstly, the subsidence of the western flank of the Peninsula led to its submergence below the sea during the early Tertiary period.
- This disturbance disrupted the symmetrical plan of rivers on either side of the original watershed. Previously, the area to the west of the Western Ghats was also a landmass, and rivers flowed in both directions from the water divide formed by the Ghats, resulting in a symmetrical distribution of rivers.
- Secondly, the upheaval of the Himalayas caused subsidence and consequent trough faulting in the northern flank of the Peninsular block. The Narmada and Tapi rivers flow through these trough faults, filling the original cracks with their detritus materials, which explains the lack of alluvial and deltaic deposits in these rivers.
- Lastly, a slight tilting of the Peninsular block from northwest to southeast orientation influenced the entire drainage system to flow towards the Bay of Bengal during the same period.
River Systems in the Peninsular :
- The Western Ghats, located near the western coast, act as the major water divide between the Peninsular rivers that discharge into the Bay of Bengal and the small rivulets that join the Arabian Sea.
- With the exception of the Narmada and Tapi, all major rivers flow in an eastward direction. The prominent river systems in the Peninsular drainage are the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri.
- Peninsular rivers exhibit a fixed course, absence of meanders, and ephemeral flow of water. However, the Narmada and Tapi, which flow through the rift valley, are exceptions.
- Peninsular rivers primarily receive water from the Southwest monsoon, while rivers in Tamil Nadu also receive water from the retreating or northeast monsoon.
East Flowing Rivers:
- The Mahanadi rises near Sihawa in the Amarkantak hills of Chhattisgarh and flows through Odisha before discharging into the Bay of Bengal. It stretches for 851 km and has a catchment area of 142,000 sq km. Navigation is possible in the lower course of this river, and its deltaic stretch is part of National Waterways 5 (NW5).
- The Godavari is the largest Peninsular river, originating from the slopes of the Western Ghats in the Nasik district of Maharashtra. Also known as the Dakshinganga, it spans 1,465 km and has a catchment area of 313,000 sq km, with 49% of it lying in Maharashtra. It forms a picturesque gorge in the Eastern Ghats and experiences heavy floods in its lower reaches. Navigation is feasible only in its deltaic stretch, and after Rajahmundry, it splits into several branches, forming a large delta.
- The Krishna, the second largest east-flowing Peninsular river, springs from Mahabaleshwar and stretches for 1,401 km. Its major tributaries include the Koyna, Tungbhadra, and Bhima. The river’s drainage basin is shared by Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
- The Kaveri rises in the Brahmagiri hills of Karnataka, covering a length of 800 km and draining an area of 81,155 sq km. Due to rainfall patterns, with the upper catchment area receiving rainfall during the southwest monsoon season and the lower part during the northeast monsoon season, the Kaveri carries water throughout the year. It empties into the Bay of Bengal at Kaveripatnam, traversing parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala. Its significant tributaries are the Kabini, Bhavani, and Amravati.
- The Brahmani and Subarnarekha rivers drain parts of Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh between the Ganga and Mahanadi, emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The Brahmani supplies water to the Tata steel plant at Jamshedpur.
West Flowing Rivers:
- The Narmada originates on the western flank of the Amarkantak plateau at an altitude of about 1,057 m. Flowing in a rift valley between the Satpura range in the south and the Vindhyan range in the north, it forms a picturesque gorge in marble rocks and the Dhuandhar waterfall near Jabalpur. It meets the Arabian Sea south of Bharuch, creating a broad 27 km long estuary. With a length of 1,312 km and a catchment area of 98,796 sq km, all the tributaries of the Narmada are short and form a trellis pattern. The Sardar Sarovar Project has been constructed on this river, and its water is shared with other Gujarat rivers.
- The Tapi, another important westward flowing river, originates from Multai in the Betul district of Madhya Pradesh and discharges into the Surat district of Gujarat. It spans 724 km and drains an area of 65,145 sq km. The Purna, Girna, and Panjhra are its significant tributaries.
- Luni, the largest river system of Rajasthan west of the Aravali range, originates near Pushkar in two branches—the Saraswati and Sabarmati—which join each other at Govindgarh. It flows westward until Telwara, where it takes a southwest direction and joins the Rann of Kutch.
- The Mahi river rises in the Satmala hills of the Vindhyan mountains, flowing for 533 km before draining into the Gulf of Khambhat. The Sabarmati river rises in the Aravalli hills and flows into the Arabian Sea after covering a distance of 300 km.
- There are numerous small westward flowing rivers that rise in the Western Ghats and have short runoff. Examples include the Shetrunji, which originates near Dalkahwa in Amreli district, the Bhadra near Aniali village in Rajkot district, the Dhadhar near Ghantar village in Panchmahal district, the Vaitarna from the Trimbak hills in Nasik district, the Kalinadi from Belgaum district, the Sharavati in Karnataka, and the Mandovi and Juari in Goa. Kerala’s longest river, Bharathapuzha, also known as Ponnani, rises near the Anamalai hills, while the Periyar is the second largest river in the state, covering a catchment area of 5,243 sq km.
Fig: Peninsular Drainage System
Rivers Flowing into the Ganges
- The Ganges River system comprises several tributaries, including the Chambal, Betwa, Ken, and Son rivers. These rivers originate in the northern region of the Indian Peninsula.
- The Chambal River, situated in Central and Northern India, is a tributary of the Yamuna River and is part of the extensive Gangetic drainage system. It flows north-northeast, passing through Madhya Pradesh before forming the state border between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The perennial Chambal River begins its journey at Manpur, Indore, on the southern slope of the Vindhya Range in Madhya Pradesh, south of Janapav.
- The Betwa River, another tributary of the Yamuna, flows through Central and Northern India. It originates in the Vindhya Range of Madhya Pradesh and flows northeast, passing through Madhya Pradesh, Orchha, and Uttar Pradesh. Nearly half of its course is impassable due to the presence of the Malwa Plateau.
- The Ken River, a major river in central India’s Bundelkhand region, traverses the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It is a branch of the Yamuna River.
- The Son River is a perennial river in central India, originating at Amarkantak Hill in the Anuppur district of Madhya Pradesh. It eventually flows into the Ganges River near Patna in Bihar.
- The Damodar River flows through the Indian states of Jharkhand and West Bengal and is known for its mineral-rich valley. This region has been a hub for large-scale mining and industrial activities and was historically referred to as the “Bengal Sorrow.”
Significance of Peninsular River
- The Peninsular rivers rely solely on rainfall for their water supply, leading to seasonal or non-perennial flows. Consequently, these rivers are less suitable for irrigation purposes.
- These rivers typically flow through shallow valleys that have undergone some degree of grading, with minimal erosional activity.
- Several Peninsular rivers, including the Narmada and the Tapi, give rise to estuaries, while others like the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery form deltas.
- Some minor streams from the Western Ghats flow westward and directly into the Arabian Sea without forming deltas.
- Due to the hard granite surface and non-alluvial composition of the plateau, the Peninsular rivers follow relatively straight courses, with limited meander formation.
Q1. Name the largest peninsular river system?
Ans. The largest peninsular river system in India is the Godavari-Krishna river system. It is a significant river system located in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent.
Q2. What is the meaning of peninsular river?
Ans. A peninsular river refers to a river that flows through a peninsula. In the context of India, peninsular rivers are the rivers that flow from the Western and Eastern Ghats into the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
Q3. What is the river system of the peninsular drainage?
Ans. The river system of the peninsular drainage refers to the network of rivers that flow across the Indian Peninsular Plateau, including the rivers originating from the Western and Eastern Ghats and flowing into the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, or inland drainage basins.
Q4. Name two peninsular rivers?
Ans. Two prominent peninsular rivers in India are the Godavari and the Krishna. These rivers play a crucial role in the peninsular drainage system and are among the longest rivers in India.
In case you still have your doubts, contact us on 9811333901.
For UPSC Prelims Resources, Click here
For Daily Updates and Study Material:
Join our Telegram Channel – Edukemy for IAS
- 1. Learn through Videos – here
- 2. Be Exam Ready by Practicing Daily MCQs – here
- 3. Daily Newsletter – Get all your Current Affairs Covered – here
- 4. Mains Answer Writing Practice – here