The Peninsular Drainage System Of India- Frontier IAS
Baljit Dhaka

The Peninsular Drainage System Of India

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The Peninsular Drainage System Of India

Geography for Civil Services

It is older than the Himalayan system. Most of the peninsular rivers flow from west to east except few. The main river systems of peninsular drainage are the Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna, the Kaveri, the Narmada, the Tapi, and The Luni river system.

Origin of Peninsular Drainage:

Mainly three major geological events are responsible:

  1. Subsidence of the Western part of Peninsular India causing its submergence below the sea in the early tertiary period.
  2. The upheaval of the Himalayas when the northern flank of the peninsular block was subjected to subsidence and consequent trough faulting.
  3. Tilting of Peninsular block from northwest to southeast direction.

Peninsular drainage:

  • It is older than the Himalayan system. 
  • Most of the peninsular rivers flow from west to east except few.
  • The main river systems of peninsular drainage are the Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna, the Kaveri, the Narmada, the Tapi and The Luni river system.

  • A large number of the Peninsular rivers are seasonal, as their flow is dependent on rainfall
  • During the dry season, even the large rivers have reduced the flow of water in their channels
  • The Peninsular rivers have shorter and shallower courses as compared to their Himalayan counterparts
  • Most Peninsular rivers originate in the Western Ghats and flow towards the Bay of Bengal.
  • Western ghats act as a major water divide between the major peninsular rivers in accordance with the flow direction either in the east or west.
  • East flowing rivers-Mahanadi, krishna, Kaveri, Godavari. These rivers make deltas at their mouths and drain into the Bay of Bengal.
  • West flowing rivers- Narmada, Tapi are the main rivers and they make estuaries at their mouths instead of deltas.

Mahanadi river system:

  • Rises near Sihawa in Raipur district Chhattisgarh.
  • Runs through Odisha to discharge its water into the bay of Bengal.
  • Length: 851 km
  • Catchment Area; 1.42 lakh
  • 53% river basin lies in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh while 47% lies in Odisha.

Godavari river system:

  • The Godavari is the largest Peninsular river 
  • Also known as Dakshin Ganga
  • Rises from the slopes of the Western Ghats in the Nasik district of Maharashtra 
  • Drains into the Bay of Bengal
  • Length: 1465 km.
  • Catchment Area: 3.13 lakh
  • The drainage basin is the largest among the Peninsular rivers
  • Subjected to heavy floods in lower reaches.

Godavari river system:

  •  49% of it lies in  Maharashtra 20% in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and the rest in Andhra Pradesh.

Major tributaries

  • The Penganga
  • The Indravati
  • The Pranhita
  • The manjara

Krishna river system:

  • Rising from a spring near Mahabaleshwar in Sahyadri.
  • Krishna flows for about 1400 km and reaches the Bay of Bengal
  • The Tungabhadra, the Koyana, the Ghatprabha, the Musi, and the Bhima are some of its tributaries
  • Second largest east-flowing peninsular river
  • Of the total catchment area of Krishna 44%  lies in Karnataka  27% in Maharashtra and 29% in Andhra Pradesh.

Kaveri river system:

  • The Kaveri rises in the Brahmagiri hills of Kodagu (Karnataka).
  • It reaches the Bay of Bengal in the south of Cuddalore, in Tamil Nadu/Mostly flows in Tamil Nadu
  • Total length- 800 km
  • Catchment area: 81,155sq km.  out of it, 3 % lies in Kerala 41% in Karnataka, and 56% in Tamilnadu
  • Main tributaries- Amravati, Bhavani, Hemavati, and Kabini.
  • Has less  fluctuation in the water level than other peninsular rivers because the upper part receives rainfall during the Southwest monsoon and the lower part during the North-East monsoon season
  • Makes the second biggest waterfall in India known as Shivasamudram. 

Narmada river system:

  • Originates in the Amarkantak plateau at a height of about 1,075 m.
  • Flowing in a Rift Valley between Satpura in the south and Vindhya in the north.
  • Forms picturesque gorge Dhuandhar waterfall near Jabalpur.
  • Catchment area 98,796 sq km Sardar Sarovar Project has been constructed on it.

Tapi river system:

  • Originates from Multai in the Betul (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Length 724 km
  • Catchment area 65145 sq km
  •  79% of this area lies  in Maharashtra 15% in Madhya Pradesh and the remaining 6% in Gujarat.

Luni river system:

  • The largest river system of Rajasthan
  • Originates near Pushkar in two branches the Saraswati and the Sabarmati which join each other at Govindgarh and river comes out of Aravali as Luni.
  •  The entire river system is ephemeral.

Other important rivers:

  • The Damodar, the Brahmani, the Baitarani and  the Subarnarekha are east flowing rivers
  • Periyar is lifeline of Kerala (largest volume of water in Kerala)/ Idukki dam made on the mouth of the river.
  • Pamba (Kerala)
  • Mandovi (Goa) life line of Goa
  • Zuari (Goa) Port city of Vasco Da Gama lies at the mouth of Zuari.

Difference between east-flowing and West flowing Peninsular rivers:

Comparison between Himalayan Rivers and Peninsular rivers: