Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rivers in India

The Indian River Systems can be divided into four categories – the Himalayan, the rivers traversing the Deccan Plateau, the Coastal and those in the inland drainage basin. The Himalayan rivers are perennial as they are fed by melting glaciers every summer. During the monsoon, these rivers assume alarming proportions. Swollen with rainwater, they often inundate villages and towns in their path. The Gangetic basin is the largest river system in India, draining almost a quarter of the country.

Five Major Rivers in India

Ganga River

One of India’s most sacred rivers, the Ganga (or the Ganges) originates in the Himalayas at Gaumukh (13,858ft). Legend has it that the Ganga originated from the mythical Mountain Meru believed to be located at the core of the universe, and also considered to be the abode of gods.

From here the Ganga drops into Shiva’s matted locks (Shiva is the Destroyer of the Universe in the Hindu Holy Trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer), that seem to cushion its fall before it finally lands on earth.

That the river is of such spiritual significance for the Hindus is borne out by the fact that a dip in the Ganga is believed to absolve one of all sins. A few drops of Ganga jal (water) on a dying Hindu’s lips are said to earn the latter a permanent abode in heaven. Furthermore, Hindus believe that if the ashes of the dead are immersed in the Ganga, their souls break free from the cycle of birth and rebirth and attain nirvana. The three most revered towns situated on the banks of the Ganga are Haridwar, Allahabad and the eternal Varanasi.

Saraswati is celeberated both as river diety and as the Goddess of speech and learning. The meaning of the word Saraswati is ‘ full of waters’ or ‘ full of lakes’. The source of the river is considered to be in Plakasha Prasravana in the Himalayan mountains and the place where the river disappears is called Vinasana. The water of the river Saraswati are inspiring. As a river Goddess, she connected with fertality and procreation and particularly with purification.

Sindhu in Rig Veda is reffered as one one of the rivers of Sapta Sindhus. The river gots its name of Sindhu or Sindh through which it flows. It is the great river of the world.It originated from the Kailasa mountain near the Mansarovar in Tibet.

Godavari, the largest and the longest river of South India. It is popularly reffered as to as the Dakshina Ganga. The Godavari means the best of givers of water, or the best of the rivers giving cows. According to traditions, Godavari is divided itsef into seven branches before it meets the sea and they are named after the seven rishis.

Narmada is the largest of the major west flowinf rivers born in the central highlands. It is described as the best among the rivers. It is said that the river was issued by the body of Rudra. Narmada originated from the Amarkantak hill and flows at a distance of 1300 km and ultimately meets the Bay of Cambay near Bharuch. Narmada is capable of purifying all creatures and even immovabbles.

Yamuna River
The Yamuna, a tributary of the Ganga, is another important river. Rising from Yamunotri in the Himalayas, it merges with the Ganga in Allahabad. The Saraswati, a mythical river known to have existed a few thousand years ago, is believed to follow its invisible underground course to unite with the Ganga and the Yamuna at Sangam (meeting point), or Prayag in Allahabad.

Rivers like the Chambal, Betwa and Sone flow northwards from the Vindhya Mountain Range and drain into the Ganga and the Yamuna. The basins of the Brahmaputra and the Indus cover about one-tenth of India’s land area. Smaller rivers like the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej are tributaries of the Indus, a river that flows from Pakistan into North India.

Rivers Are Mainly Fed By Rain

The rivers of the Indian peninsular plateau are mainly fed by rain. During summer, their flow is greatly reduced, and some of the tributaries even dry up, only to be revived in the monsoon. The Godavari basin in the peninsula is the largest in the country, spanning an area of almost one-tenth of the country.

The rivers Narmada (India’s holiest river) and Tapti flow almost parallel to each other but empty themselves in opposite directions. The two rivers make the valley rich in alluvial soil and teak forests cover much of the land.

While coastal rivers gush down the peaks of the Western Ghats into the Arabian Sea in torrents during the rains, they cease to flow after the monsoon. Streams like the Sambhar in western Rajasthan are mainly seasonal in character, draining into the inland basins and salt lakes. In the Rann of Kutch, the only river that flows through the salt desert is the Luni.

Owing to the harsh Indian summer, it is not possible to navigate by barges and small ships throughout the year even on massive rivers like the Ganga and the Yamuna. In Calcutta where the Ganga is deep and the water doesn’t dry up, Kidderpore functions as a dock for ferries and small ships coming in from the Bay of Bengal.

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