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Rivers Of India. By: Sharadha Srinivasan Sishugriha School, Bangalore. Rivers and human civilization. Rivers and Human Civilization. Rivers played a very important role in the development and maintenance of Civilizations.

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rivers of india

Rivers Of India

By: Sharadha Srinivasan

Sishugriha School, Bangalore

rivers and human civilization
Rivers and Human Civilization
  • Rivers played a very important role in the development and maintenance of Civilizations.
  • With the discovery of the usefulness of water in food production, man realized that hunting and gathering were not the only ways to produce food!
  • Now with the constant supply of water, man could reliably and in a sustainable manner grow plants intentionally.
  • This discovery alleviated the need to search and gather food. Agriculture was hard work but yielded huge benefits:
    • Larger food supply led to decreased starvation which further led to increased settlements, communities and later cities
    • This led to an increase in the trade and commerce. Rivers served as important modes of transport and transportation for the same.
    • As wealth and trade increased huts were replaced by houses, which further shaped the ‘civilized’ world.
Indian Rivers

– an overview

indian rivers overview

Arabian Ocean

Indian rivers overview

Himalayan and Karkoram Ranges

Vindhyas, Satpuras, Central Plateau

Western Ghats


Bay of Bengal

indus valley civilization
Indus Valley Civilization

The ancient civilizations of the Indian sub-continent were in and around two might river systems

  • The Indus Valley Civilization (mature period 2600–1900 BCE), abbreviated IVC, was an ancient civilization in the Indian Subcontinent that flourished around the Indus River basin. Primarily centered along the Indus river, the civilization encompassed most of what is now Pakistan, mainly the provinces of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan, as well as extending into modern day Indian states of Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.
  • Nearby the Saraswati civilization, based on the now dried-up Saraswati river, a river that in ancient Indian historic texts is described as far mightier that the Ganges, and suspected of drying up due to tectonic shifts in the upper reaches of the Himalayas.

The sites of the Mohenjadaro and Harappan sites along the Indus River Valley

the saraswati civilization
The Saraswati Civilization

"Pure in her course from the mountains to the ocean, alone of streams Saraswati hath listened."

- Rig Veda

The Saraswati river, believed to be now mostly disappeared underground, was the locus of one of the most ancient of human civilisations


Ganga is born in the Gangotri glacier at the foothills of the Himalayas (14000 ft) high up in the Himalaya Mountains of Uttaranchal. Gaumukh is the giant ice-cave from where the Ganga originates

The first town she reaches on leaving the mountains is Rishikesh. At this point she is wider and slower. She becomes a ‘real’ river, no more the turbulent stream that flows through canyons and ravines

Her main flow is through the Gangetic plain: the vast flat land that stretches from the north to south to the state of Uttar Pradesh and from its West all the way to the Eastern state of West Bengal. She is a source of water for agriculture, passing through famous towns such as Varanasi.

Finally, past Kolkata in the east, the Ganges reaches the ocean – creating one of the world largest river deltas and home to the beautiful Sundarban forests.


The origin of Brahmaputra River is in southwestern Tibet as the Yarlung River. The river takes birth at the Mansarovar of the Himalayas, flows through Tibet, China, Burma, India and joins with River Ganges in Bangladesh.

Called the Tsangpo in Tibet, it flows past the towns of Xigatse and Tsedang and then climbs north. It curves around a majestic mountain called the Namche Barwa, shortly before entering India.

Along the Brahmaputra are a thousand chars or river islands. Several nomads live on them who wander from one island to another.

Finally, passing through Bangladesh, it becomes the Padma river and enters the Bay of Bengal in the Sundarbans along with the Ganges.


Kaveri starts as a small spring in Karnataka Talakaveri, high up in the mountains of the Brahmagiri mountains of the Western Ghats. At this spot stands a temple which has a tank filled with the river’s water.

A little further down the Kaveri forks to form a rocky island called Srirangapatna; until the end of the 18th century this was the capital of the Mysore kingdom. It is believed that Lord Vishnu himself came and resided in these islands.

At Sivasamudram the Kaveri tumbles down as a rapids and waterfalls, where the river plunges downward in a wonderful cascade to a depth of 300-350 ft. She falls with tremendous force and her waters are used to generate hydroelectricity.

Kaveri enters the sea in a triangle-shaped delta in Tamil Nadu. The delta is large and covers 14 lakh hectares of land. The ancient temple town of Tanjavur stands at the head of the delta.

The Narmada ,

rivers and the environment


The Narmada is born in a small tank called “Narmada Kund” on the Amarkantak Hill in Eastern Madhya Pradesh.

The Kanha National Park lies close to the Narmada in the Maikal Plateau. Unusual species of birds and animals are found here. This is a protected area and was a declared a Tiger Reserve in 1974.

The Sardar Sarovar project is part of a plan to take Narmada’s waters to states further away where there is little rainfall and not much water for people and crops.

But the dangers if this plan materializes are many:Earthquakes and flood caused by this man made structure threaten the area around it. In response to these concerns, that the Narmada Bachao Andolan movement grew to try and answer questions like (i)Are big dams more dangerous than useful?(ii) Are there other ways of collecting water for drinking, irrigation and electricity?(iii) Will those who lose their homes be given land somewhere else?

  • The large geographic span of India has a variety of rain-fed and mountain glacier fed rivers, that have sustained the ancient civilization of India, and still today continue to provide livelihood and sustenance for the large population of the nation.
  • The rivers of India, apart from their utility, are a rich storehouse of natural beauty, and have a long and ancient history of mythological and historical treasures.
  • The global environmental problems of the 21st century will also have their impact on the rivers of India. By respecting these treasures of India, both for their history as well as for the precious natural resource of water, these rivers will sustain our country for many centuries to come.