Throughout human history, rivers have been very important for humans. Most of the ancient civilizations flourished on the banks of the Great rivers. This has been true throughout the world. The large rivers flowing in India have been extremely important in its history, culture, and for its people.
Cities and towns have been established near river banks. Rivers have always been an important topic in mythology and religion. Rivers have been tightly tied with the rituals and traditions. Thus rivers in India have had a major impact on people’s lives since time immemorial. Let us look at 10 fascinating facts about the Great Indian rivers that will make you wonder.
1. The river Brahmaputra is known by different names in different places
At 3,848 km long, the Brahmaputra is the longest river flowing through India. Its birthplace is Lake Manasarovar in the Burang County of Tibet. In Tibet, it is known as Yarlung Tsango. In India, it is known by the name Brahmaputra. Given the altitude of Tibet and Himalayas above the sea level, Brahmaputra has the highest elevation of major rivers in the world.
In Bangladesh, Brahmaputra is known by the name of Jamuna. The Brahmaputra joins the river Ganga in Bangladesh to form the Meghna river, which then empties into the Bay of Bengal. However, the river Ganga is known by the name of the Padma in Bangladesh.
2. The Ganga River Dolphin is the National Aquatic Animal of India
The river Ganga (also known as the Ganges by Westerners) is one of the major rivers in India which gives life to crores of people. The Ganga river is the holiest river in Hinduism. Major cities were built on the banks of the Ganga throughout history. The Ganga river originates in the Gangotri Glacier in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand state.
It is the second-longest river in India measuring 2,525 km long. The river Ganga is also one of the most polluted rivers in India, owing to a variety of reasons. The Ganga River Dolphin is declared the National Aquatic Animal of India by the Government of India. Its biological name is Platanista gangetica.
3. A very large portion of Delhi’s water supply comes from the river Yamuna
As the river Ganga, the river Yamuna is also highly venerated in Hinduism. The river Yamuna originates at Yamunotri Glacier in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand state. It is situated about 10,804 feet above sea level. It is the fifth-longest river in India measuring 1,376 km long.
It merges with the river Ganga at Triveni Sangam at Prayagraj in the state of Uttar Pradesh. A very large portion of the water from the river Yamuna is used for agriculture. The river Yamuna is also affected by pollution. There are many canals drawn from the Yamuna. Some of the canals have been there for hundreds of years, dating back to the Tughlaqs and the Mughals.
4. The river Godavari is the longest river in peninsular India
The river Godavari originates in Trimbakeshwar in the Nashik district of the state of Maharashtra. The river Godavari then flows Eastwards for a distance of 1,465 km before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. It has the third-largest river basin in India after Ganga and Indus.
The river Godavari is also called ‘Dakshina Ganga’ (the Ganges of the South). The river Godavari is also highly venerated in Hinduism. Many holy places and temples are also located on the banks of the Godavari. The river Godavari and its surrounding areas boast a huge variety of flora and fauna some of which are unique to the region. The Godavari basin is the nesting place of the endangered species Olive Ridley Sea Turtle.
5. There is an Indus river water-distribution treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960
The birthplace of the Indus river is Lake Manasarovar in western Tibet. The Indus then flows Northwest towards Kashmir. It then flows Southwest towards Pakistan, finally emptying into the Arabian Sea in the Southern Sindh Province. Indus rivers have five major tributaries in Punjab.
Hence, Punjab is also known as the ‘Land of Five Rivers‘. The name ‘India’ is derived from the river ‘Indus’. Indus river is the major source of water for Pakistan. India and Pakistan signed the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) in 1960, distributing the water resources between the countries. Even though wars and military operations were involved between India and Pakistan, there were no military operations caused due to the Indus river.
6. The second-largest hydroelectric power plant in India is built on a tributary of the Krishna river
Koyna Hydroelectric Project is a large hydroelectric project on the Koyna river in Maharastra. The entire project involves four dams. The total power capacity of the project is 1,960 MW. The first part of the project started running in 1962.
Due to this project, the Koyna river is known as the ‘Lifeline’ of Maharastra. The river Koyna flows for a distance of 130 km and then joins the Krishna river at Karad in the Satara district of Maharastra. The birthplace of the Krishna river is near Mahabaleshwar in the Satara district of Maharastra. The river Koyna also originates close to this place.
7. The longest west-flowing river in India is the Narmada river
The river Narmada originates in Amarkantak in the Anuppur district of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Then it flows westwards into the state of Gujarat and then empties into the Arabian Sea. The Narmada river flows in the central region of India and hence acts as a physical boundary between North and South India. It runs for a length of 1,312 km and is the longest west-flowing river in India. The word ‘Narmada’ in Sanskrit translates to ‘Giver of pleasure’. The river Narmada is one of the seven holy rivers in India.
8. The river Kaveri is the lifeline of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
The Kaveri is a major river flowing in South India. Its birthplace is Talakaveri in the Kodagu district of Karnataka state. It flows eastwards for a distance of 805 km before joining the Bay of Bengal. It joins the Bay of Bengal at Puhar in Maliyaduthurai district of Tamil Nadu state.
The Kaveri river also has high religious significance. Talakaveri is a very holy place for Hindus. Kaveri is worshipped as a Goddess. The Kaveri river is extensively used for agriculture and power generation. It is also a source of disputes between the states Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The water resources for Bangalore are provided for the major part by the river Kaveri.
9. The Hirakud dam on the river Mahanadi is the longest earthen dam in the world
The Mahanadi is a major river in Central India flowing eastwards. It flows for a length of 900 km in the states of Chattisgarh and Odisha. Its birthplace is in Nagri-Sihawa in the Dhamtari district in the state of Odisha. The Mahanadi river empties into the Bay of Bengal at False Point in the Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.
The Hirakud dam is built across the Mahanadi river at a distance of about 15 km from Sambalpur, Odisha. Before the construction of this dam, the Mahanadi river had caused heavy floods during monsoons in the state, it was known as the ‘Sorrow of Odisha’. After the construction of the Hirakud dam, the floods were brought under control. The Hirad dam is the longest earthen dam in the world, spanning 25.8 km.
10. The Arvari river was restored by the villagers of Rajasthan after being dry for 60 years
The Arvari river flows through the Alwar district of Rajasthan. It runs for a distance of just 45 km. The process of restoration of the river began in 1986, and then it started slowly rejuvenating. By 1995, it was a perennial river and has been since then.
The river was restored by villagers using rainwater harvesting technique with the help of Rajendra Singh, an environmentalist and water conservationist, who is known as ‘the Waterman of India’. He won the Magsaysay Award in 2001 and Stockholm Water Prize in 2015. The villagers who had migrated from their villages due to the river drying up came back after the river started flowing, settled down, and started agricultural activity.
Which of these facts did you think really intrigued you? Type in the comments below.
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