The Peninsular Drainage System

The Peninsular drainage system is older than the Himalayan system. The system includes the Narmada, the Tapi, the Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna, the Kaveri, and many other small rivers.

The evolution of the Peninsular drainage system:

In the past three major geological events occurred that shaped the present drainage system of Peninsular India:

  • Subsidence of the Western flank of the Peninsula led to its submergence below the sea during the early tertiary period; 500 million years ago. This disturbed the symmetrical plan of the river on either side of the original watershed.
  • The upheaval of the Himalayas when the Northern flank of the Peninsular block was subjected to subsidence and the consequent through faulting. Example: Narmada and Tapi flow in trough/fault and fill original cracks with their detritus materials. Thus there is a lack of alluvial and deltaic deposits in these rivers.
  • Slight tilting of the Peninsular block from the North-West to the Southeastern direction gave orientation to the entire drainage system towards the Bay of Bengal.

Characteristics of Peninsular Drainage System:

The Peninsular rivers are fed by monsoon rain and are non-perennial or seasonal in nature. These rivers are older than the Himalayan rivers.

  • These rivers possess fixed courses and fewer or no meanders.
  • The Western Ghats act as the water divide between the major Peninsular rivers, discharging their water in the Bay of Bengal and as small rivulets joining the Arabian Sea.
  • The Narmada and Tapi rivers flow from east to west through the rift valleys.
  • Peninsular rivers named Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri flow from West to East.
  • The Chambal, Betwa, Sind, Sone, etc originating in the Northern part of the Peninsular, flow from South-West to North-East to join Ganga.

The River System of Peninsular Drainage

Major rivers of the Peninsular drainage system:

Peninsular rivers Description
  • It rises near Sihawa in the Raipur district of Chhattisgarh and flows a distance of 851 km through the states of Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
  • Its catchment area is over 1.42 lakh sq. km.
  • The river forms a delta on the Eastern Coastal Plains and finally discharges into the Bay of Bengal.
  • The drainage basin contributes 53% of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and 47% lies in Odisha.
  • The Godavari rises in the Nasik district of Maharashtra and falls into the Bay of Bengal.
  • The length of Godavari is 1,465km
  • Its catchment area is 3.13 lakh sq. km
  • It is also known as Dakshin Ganga.
  • The Godavari is the largest river in the Peninsular River system.
  • The tributaries of Godavari run through the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Catchment area- 49% in Maharashtra, 20% in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and the rest in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The main tributaries of Godavari are the Penganga, the Indrāvati, the Pranhita, and the Manjara.
Krishna river
  • Krishna is the second largest Peninsular river with a total length of 1401km.
  • The river originates near Mahabaleshwar in Sahyadri and flows through Maharastra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
  • Major tributaries of the Krishna River are the Koyna, the Bhima, and the Tungabhadra.
Kaveri river
  • The river rises in the Brahmagiri hills of the Kogadu district in Karnataka.
  • The length of the Kaveri River is 800 km and it drains in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
  • Its major tributaries are the Kabini, the Bhavani, and the Amravati.
The Narmada river
  • Narmada originates from the Western flank of the Amarkantak plateau.
  • It flows from a rift valley between the Vindhyan range in the North and the Satpura ranges in the South.
  • It makes an estuary and meets the Arabian Sea.
  • The catchment area of Narmada is about 98,
  • It forms Dhunadhar waterfall near Jabalpur.
  • Sardar Sarovar Dam is constructed on this river.
Tapi river
  • Tapi River rises in Multai of Betul district in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The river flows Westwards.
  • The length of Tapi is 724 km, and it flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat.


Luni river
  • Luni is the largest river in Rajasthan.
  • It originates near Pushkar in two branches named Saraswati and Sabarmati, which join each other at Govindgarh.
  • It flows towards the west till Telwara and then takes a South-West direction to join the Rann of Kachchh.
  • Luni falls in Rann of Kachchh.


The Peninsular drainage system

The Peninsular drainage system

Small Rivers of the system:

List of some Small rivers with states flowing towards the West
Mahi Gujarat
Vaitarna Maharastra
Kalindi Karnataka
Mandovi Goa
Bharathapuzha/Ponnani Kerala
Small Rivers Flowing Towards the East
River State
Subarnarekha, Baitarani, Odisha
Subarnarekha Odisha and Jharkhand
Brahmani, Vamsadhara, and Pennar Andhra Pradesh
Polar, Vaigai Tamil Nadu


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