Yamuna River

The Yamuna River is one of the most beautiful rivers of India. It is the biggest tributary of the Ganges (also known as Ganga) in Northern India. The famous river has its source in the Yamunotri Glacier at an elevation of 6,387 meters on the southwestern sides of Banderpooch crests in the lower Himalayan ranges.

Yamuna River: An Overview

The river runs an overall span of 1,376 km (855 miles) and has a catchment area of 366,223 km2. This encompasses 40.2% of the whole Ganges valley, prior to joining the Ganga at Triveni Sangam in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. The Triveni Sangam is home to the Kumbh Mela, which takes place every 12 years.

Itinerary of Yamuna River

The river passes through many states such as Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, going across Himachal Pradesh, and then Delhi. The Yamuna joins many of its tributaries on its itinerary, which include Tons, the biggest and most extensive tributary of Yamuna, Chambal, which has its individual big catchment area, and the Betwa, Sindh, and Ken. Most significantly, it forms the extremely productive alluvial plain, which is known as Yamunga-Ganges Doab area amid itself and the Ganga in the Indo-Gangetic terrain. Almost 57 million inhabitants rely on the waters of the Yamuna. With a yearly discharge of around 10,000 cubic billion meters (cbm) and consumption of 4,400 cbm (of which irrigation comprises 96%), the river represents above 70% of the water provisions of Delhi. Similar to the Ganga, the Yamuna holds high respect among the Hindus and revered as the deity Yamuna for its whole itinerary. According to Hindu myths, the Yamuna is the daughter of Surya, or the Sun God and Yami, the sister of Yama, the God of Death. As mentioned in famous fables, taking a dip in its holy waters cleanses you from the sufferings of death.

The Yamuna waters are of fairly good quality for its entire span from Yamunotri in the Himalayan ranges to Wazirabad in Delhi, the length of which is around 375 km. The wastewater flows through 15 drains situated amid the Okhla dam and Wazirabad dam. As a result, the water of the Yamuna River becomes extremely contaminated once the river leaves Wazirabad, Delhi. Because of its high contamination level, the river has also been referred to as a “sewage drain” with BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) rates varying from 14 to 28 mg/l. Elevated coliform level is one more reason behind its high pollution level. The river gets contaminated from three principal sources - i.e. municipal and household waste areas, land corrosion due to removal of trees taking place to facilitate agriculture together with consequential chemical wastes from manures, herbicides, insect killers, and overspills from commercial operations and industrial areas.

Itinerary and Drainage Area of Yamuna

The origin of the Yamuna is situated in the Yamunotri Glacier at an elevation of 6,387 meters on the southeastern sides of the Banderpooch crests, which are located in the Mussoorie Range of the Lower Himalayan Range in Uttarkashi District, Uttarakhand, to the north of Haridwar. There is a temple named Yamunotri Temple, which is a place of worship devoted to the deity and is one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots for the Hindus. The temple forms a portion of the Chota Char Dham Yatra trip. The Markandeya Tirtha is also situated nearby the temple on its trekking itinerary spanning 13 km, which trails the right riverbanks of the Yamuna. The Sage Markandeya authored the Markandeya Purana in this place.

From this place, the Yamuna runs to the south for around 200 km across the Shivalik Mountain Ranges and Lower Himalayan Mountain Ranges. You will find glacial deposits in the vertical Upper Yamuna basin, tinted with geomorphic attributes like sharp stone benches, interlocking spurs, and stream terraces. Big terraces created throughout an extensive time period will be found in the lower itinerary of the river similar to the ones in the vicinity of Naugoan. A significant portion of its beginning of the drainage basin (with a total area of 2,320 km2) is situated in Himachal Pradesh and a major tributary sapping the upper drainage basin is the Tons, which is also the biggest and most extensive tributary of the Yamuna. The Tons has its origin in the Hari-ki-Dun basin and is capable to carry more water than the main river, with which it fuses below Kalsi in the vicinity of Dehradun. The whole drainage infrastructure extends all the way amid the Yamuna-Bhilangna basin in Garwhal and Giri-Sutlej drainage basin in Himachal Pradesh, definitely the southern rim of Shimla is also sapped by this system.

Other tributaries in the area are the Rishi Ganga, Giri, Hanuman Ganga, Kunta, and Bata, which sap the Upper Drainage Basin of the huge Yamuna River. Subsequently, the river moves down the terrains of Doon basin at Dak Pathar close to Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand. In this place, the water is redirected into a channel for the purpose of electricity generation, somewhat down where the river is joined by the Assan River, where the Assan Barrage is situated. The Assan Barrage is also home to a Bird Sanctuary. Once it goes across the Sikh religious place of Paonta Sahib, the river arrives at Tajewala in the Yamunanagar district of Haryana where a dam was constructed in 1873. This dam is the origin of two major channels or watercourses - Eastern Yamuna Canal and Western Yamuna Canal. They both drain the states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

The Western Yamuna Canal (WYC) traverses Karnal, Yamuna Nagar, and Panipat prior to arriving at the Haiderpur water treatment plant, which provides a portion of the municipal water provision to Delhi. Additionally, it gets wastewater from Panipat and Yamuna Nagar cities. Yamuna is refilled for a second time following this by seasonal torrents and groundwater accumulation, essentially during the arid season. The river keeps dehydrated in several areas from Tajewala till Delhi, where the river comes into in the vicinity of Palla village after traveling 224 km.

The Yamuna also forms natural state boundaries between the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and also amid the states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Together with the Ganga to which it flows almost parallely once it meets the Indo-Gangetic plateau, the biggest alluvial productive area in the world, it forms the Ganges-Yamuna Doab area stretched across 69,000 km2, which is 33% of the whole area. This area is currently famous for its farming productions, important among the harvests is the farming of Basmati Rice. The Doab area itself assists one-third of the population of India with its agricultural produces.

State Drainage basin (km2)  % of Drainage basin
Himachal Pradesh 5,799 1.6%
Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand 74,208 21.5 %
Rajasthan 102,883 29.8%
Haryana 21,265 6.5%
Delhi 1,485 0.4%
Madhya Pradesh 14,023 40.6%

Afterward, the river runs across the states of Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, prior to fusing with the Ganga at a holy place named as Triveni Sangam in Allahabad after covering a span of 1,376 km (855 miles). In this place, religious devotees tour by ferries to stands built in the middle of the river to pray to god. At the time of the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years, the ghats close to the Sangam are sites of huge gatherings of people attending worship, who bathe in the holy waters of the conflux. Cities like Delhi, Baghpat, Mathura, Noida, Firozabad, Agra, Kalpi, Etawah, Allahabad, and Hamirpur are situated on the riverbanks of the Yamuna. The river joins another major tributary, Chambal, at Etawah, and subsequently a slew of tributaries as it descends, which include the Betwa, Sindh, and Ken Rivers.

Major tributaries of Yamuna

The important tributaries of the Yamuna River are as follows:

Tons River

Tons River is the biggest and most extensive tributary of the Yamuna. It springs in the 6,315 m (20,720 ft) tall Bandarpoonch Mountain. The river has a huge catchment area in Himachal Pradesh. The Tons River joins Yamuna beneath Kalsi close to Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

Hindon River

The Hindon River is a wholly rain-fed river. The river has its source in the Saharanpur District from Upper Shivalik in Lower Himalayan Range. The Hindon River has a drainage basin of 7, 083 km2 and passes a length of 400 km through Meerut District, Muzaffarnagar District, Ghaziabad, Baghpat District, Noida, Greater Noida, prior to meeting Yamuna just exterior to Delhi.

Ken River

The Ken River runs through the Bundelkhand area of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The river has its source close to the Ahirgawan village in Jabalpur district and runs a length of 427 km, prior to fusing with the Yamuna at Chilla village in the vicinity of Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh. The total catchment area of the Ken River is 28,058 km2.

Chambal River

The Chambal River is also named as Charmanvati in prehistoric periods. The river runs across Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The river has a catchment area of 143,219 km2 and navigates an overall distance of 960 km. The river has its origin in the Vindhya Range, close to Mhow and assist in hydroelectric power creation at Rana Pratap Sagar dam, Gandhi Sagar dam, and Jawahar Sagar dam, prior to fusing with the Yamuna to the south east of Sohan Goan in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh. Soon after that, the Chambal River is pursued by another tributary, the Sindh River.

Geography and Wildlife of Yamuna River

The drainage basin of the river, particularly till it meets the plateaus, is filled with semi alpine, alpine, sub-tropical and temperate foliage, and huge stretches are covered by jungles. This aids in survival of a variety of wildlife.

Yamuna is home to the Asian Elephant. However, you will not find any elephants throughout 900 km of the Western Himalayan ranges and their bases. Located to the west of the Yamuna, the jungles of the lower Yamuna provide perfect passages for elephant traffic. The major jungles to be seen here are of Khair (Acacia), Sal, and Rosewood (Sissoo) trees and the Chir Pine woodlands of the Shivalik Mountains.

Last Updated on : March 13, 2020