The river system of the country can be classified into two on the basis of their origin - Himalayan rivers & Peninsular rivers. The Himalayan Rivers has three principal systems - The Indus system, The Ganga system and The Brahmaputra system.
The Indus system is one among the biggest river systems in the world. This source of river is from the Kailas Range in the Tibetan Plateau region. It is the western most river system of the Himalayan Rivers. It is also the longest river system of the country. It flows through Pakistan and then to India and finally falls into Arabian Sea. It is an antecedent river which has an age older than that of Himalayas. The tributaries of Indus River are the Shyok, the Nubra, the Gilgit, the Zaskar, the Gortang, the Huna, the Gasting, the Shigar and the Dras. Its five popular Punjab tributaries are Jhelum, Ravi, Beas, Chenab and Sutlej. Sutlej is the most famous among all other tributaries of Indus. River Sutlej origins from the Himalayas and flows through the Central Himalayan Range. The overall length of the Sutlej River is around 1050 kilometers in India. The Ravi is the smallest river of Punjab tributaries and is popularly called as the 'River of Lahore'. It origins adjacent to the Rohtang pass in the Kullu hills of Himachal Pradesh. Its entire length is about 725 km. The Chenab is considered as the longest tributary of Indus River. While the, Sutlej River is considered as the longest tributary of Indus in India. It has an entire length of 1800 km in the country. The Jhelum, a most popular tributary of the Indus flows through Jammu and Kashmir (Srinagar Valley is the valley of the Jhelum) origins in a spring at Verinag. The source of Beas River is at Beas Kund adjacent to the Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh.
Ganga System is the biggest and longest drainage system of the country carrying the overflow of about 25 percent of the whole land region of India. Ganga is stretched at a distance of 2525 km. Ganga, the main stream is composed by two most important headstreams, namely Alakananda and Bhagirathi. Both of the headstreams of Ganga merges at Devprayag. The origin of the Alakananda River is closer to the Tibetan border and for Bhagirathi, it is closer to the Gangotri. The Ganga is merged with the Yamuna at Allahabad. The river Ganga has been confirmed as India's National River in the year, 2008. In Hindu belief, Triveni Sangamam is the "union" of three major rivers, Ganga, Yamuna, and the invisible river, Saraswati River at Allahabad. Allahabad is also a famous pilgrim destination which has religious importance and the venue place for historic Kumbh Mela that is conducted in every 12 years. The name of Ganga in Bangladesh is `Padma'.
Mandakini is the first tributary of Ganga in India. Rudra prayag is the meeting place of Ganga and Mandakini. Yamuna, Gomti, Ghagra, Gandak, Ramganga, Son, Kosi, Chambal, Betwa and Ken are the main tributaries of Ganga. The source of Yamuna River is at Yamunotri glacier. It flows to the south of the country upto Agra and further down towards the south - east till it confluence the Ganga at Allahabad. Chambal, Betwa, Ken and Sind are its chief tributaries. The Chambal origins adjacent to the Mhow and merges with Yamuna river in Etawah District of Uttar Pradesh. The Sind, Betwa and Ken flow to the north. The Son emerging from Amarkantak plateau (Madhya Pradesh) merges with Ganga near Ramnagar. The Ram Ganga originated in the Kumaon Himalayas flows at about 690 km before confluence with Ganga which is close to Kanauj. The Gandok originating from Nepal - China border enters Bihar in the Champaran district and confluence with Ganga on its left at Sonpur. The Kosi rises from the peaks of Nepal, Tibet and Sikkim ends in the Ganga below Bhagalpur. Ganga flows through the states UP, Bihar, West Bengal and then to the neighbor country Bangladesh and at last falls into the Bay of Bengal. Ganga River is believed to be the holiest of all other rivers in the country by Hindus.
Originates from the Manasarovar lake in Western Tibet. Brahmaputra is considered as the third major antecedent river of the country that runs from the Himalayan region to the northern plains. The 3080 km Brahmaputra is longer than the Ganga river, but only one third of it is passing through the country. Brahmaputra is the deepest river notorious for floods. It is the widest Indian River. Brahmaputra river runs for an extensive distance parallel to the Himalayan range and through Tibet. In Tibet, it is popularly called as the Tsangpo. It then moves southward turn and runs in India through eastern Arunachal Pradesh with the name, Dihang. It got the name, Brahmaputra after the influence of its branches Luhit, Dihang and Dibang. Jamuna is the name of Brahmaputra at Bangladesh. The final flow of the Brahmaputra is in Bangladesh, where it joins with the Ganga and the united stream called Padma. It further runs downstream, where it is called as Meghna. World's largest river island Majuli is in Brahmaputra river.