The Ganges is the longest river of India, if we consider the total distance covered by a river within India. Two major rivers of the Indian subcontinent – Brahmaputra and Indus – are though longer than the Ganges, but the distances these two rivers cover within India are much shorter than that of the Ganges.
India is a land of rivers. Rivers are generally treated as mothers and almost every major river of India has a legend regarding its origin. There is a debate as to which is the longest river of India.
The Ganges is the most sacred river to the Hindus. The Ganges originates from Gangotri Glacier (Uttarakhand). Main stream of the river begins at the confluence of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers at Devprayag (Uttarakhand). The river flows through the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and then enters Bangladesh. Major cities located at the banks of the Ganges are – Rishikesh, Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna, Bhagalpur, Farakka Barrage (Malda). The total length that the Ganges covers during its journey is 2,525 kilometers (1569 miles) before it discharges in the Bay of Bengal.
Unlike other rivers of India, the Brahmaputra (Son of Brahma) is perhaps the only river in India which has a male name. The river originates from Angsi Glacier near Mansarovar Lake located in Tibet, China, as Yarlung Tsangpo River and enters India through Arunachal Pradesh. It flows southwest through Assam valley as Brahmaputra before entering into Bangladesh. Major tributaries of the Ganges are – Yamuna, Son, Gomti, Ghaghara, Gandak and Koshi. Major Indian cities located on the banks of Brahmaputra are – Dibrugarh and Guwahati. Total length of Brahmaputra is 3,848 Kilometers as per new findings (earlier length was estimated at 2,900 Kilometers). However, Brahmaputra flows only 916 Kilometers within India.
The word “India” is derived from Indus (India is a Greek/Latin term for the country of river Indus). Indus river originates near Lake Mansarovar and runs through areas of Ladakh, Gilgit, Baltistan before entering into Pakistan. One of the earliest urban civilizations – Indus Valley Civilization flourished besides Indus River. Major tributaries of river Indus are – Jansker, Soan, Jhelam, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas. Major Cities located on the banks of Indus are – Leh, Skardu. Total length of Indus River is 3,610 kilometers. However, Indus flows only 1,114 kilometers within India.
Also known as ‘Dakshin Ganga’ – the South Ganges, the Godavari is the second longest river of India. It originates from Triambakeshwar, Nasik (Maharashtra), and travels through Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, before discharging into Bay of Bengal. It covers a total area of 1,465 kilometers during the journey. Major tributaries of river Godavari are – Banganga, Indravati, Purna, Pravara etc. Major cities located at the banks of river Godavari are – Nashik, Nanded, and Rajahmundry.
Krishna – the third largest river of India – originates near Mahabaleshwar (Maharashtra) and flows through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, before discharging into the Bay of Bengal. It covers approximately 1,400 kilometers during its journey. Major tributaries are – Bhima, Panchganga, Dudhaganga, Ghataprabha, Tungabhadra etc. Sangli and Vijayawada are the major cities located at the banks of this river.