Namami Gange!! The Pristine river Ganges

India is the pristine land with plenty of natural resources. From the mighty Himalayas to the Indian Ocean and From the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal, India’s vertical and horizontal expansion provides the country with a vast biological, ecological, ethnic and cultural diversity.

Because of it’s cultural, ecological and political diversity, India is the best example of unity in diversity.

Great India is divided into the following physical regions,

  • The Northern Mountainous region or The Great Himalayas
  • The most fertile Indo-Gangetic Plains
  • Peninsular plateau or The Deccan Plateau
  • Great Indian Desert or the Thar Desert
  • Coastal Plains
  • Coastal Islands

So, let’s start our journey from the Indian Drainage System, which is majorly divided into two parts,

  • Himalayan Rivers
  • Peninsular Rivers

In this post, we will study India’s most pious river i.e. the Ganges or Ganga River system. It is a part of the Himalayan river system.

The Ganges or Ganga River System

Historical Importance

The mighty Ganges river is the most important river system of Indian Subcontinent. In India, all its ancient great cities flourished on the banks of river Ganges or Ganga.

The pious Ganges was the reason for the rising of the Magadh Empire, and its tributaries gave boundary protection to the fort of Magadh’s Capital Patliputra (Situated on the confluence of Tributaries of Ganges Gandak, Son, Punpun).

So as in medieval times, on the banks of the Ganges river, there were many cultural cities namely Agra (Taj Mahal of Shahjahan’s Reign), Jaunpur, Prayagraj (Confluence city of three pious rivers of Hindu Mythology, Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati), Lucknow etc flourished.

Because of the Ganges, the northern plains of India adopted the agricultural economy then and now too. So, from the very ancient to the present time, it is the most important river system in India.

Origin of The Ganges or Ganga

The Ganges river system is formed with the six headstream and their confluences. And the main headstreams are the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers. The confluences from the beginning to the end are in the following sequences,

  • Vishnu Prayag: Confluence of the Alaknanda and the Dhauliganga river.
  • Nanda Prayag: Confluence of the Alaknanda and the Nandakini river.
  • Karna Prayag: Confluence of the Alaknanda and the Pindar river.
  • Rudra Prayag: Confluence of the Alaknanda and the Mandakini river.
  • Dev Prayag: Confluence of the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi river.

Now, the pictorial depiction of the confluences is shown in the below figure,

The confluence of Himalayan rivers to form the Mighty Ganges river system
The confluence of Himalayan rivers to form the Mighty Ganges river system

From the figure above, one can see that the Alakanand and Bhagirathi merge to make the Ganges river system. Dhauliganga, Nandakini, Pindar and Mandakini are the tributaries of the Alaknanda.

Main Headstreams of the Ganges: Bhagirathi and Alaknanda

The origin of Bhagirathi is Gangotri Glacier at Gomukh, in Uttarakhand. Whereas, Alaknanda originates from the feet of Satopanth glacier in Uttarakhand.

The Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meet in Dev Prayag and after this, it is known as the Ganges river. Badrinath and the natural spring of Tapt Kund lie along the banks of the Alaknanda river.

The confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river
The confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river

Alaknanda River drains parts of Chamoli, Tehri and Pauri districts.

Bhagirathi cuts spectacular gorges in its middle course. Gangotri, Uttarkashi and Tehri are the important cities along the river. Tehri Dam is constructed on the river Bhagirathi.

Left and Right Bank Tributaries

Now, we will discuss the left and right bank tributaries of the river Ganges or Ganga. You guys may struggle in understanding the left and right bank tributaries!! right???… Okay! So, let me make it more clear to you by the following diagram,

Left and Right bank of the river
Left and Right bank of the river

So, the left bank tributaries of Ganges are,

  • Ramganga
  • Gomti
  • Ghaghara
  • Rapti
  • Gandak
  • Burhi Gandak
  • Kosi

And the right bank tributaries of Ganges are,

  • Yamuna
  • Son

So, now we will learn precise details of the tributaries of Ganges.

Left Bank Tributaries


The River Ramganga drains south-western Kumaon region in Uttarakhand and it flows through Corbett National Park. The river meets Ganga near Kannauj, which was the capital of King Harshavardhan.


The Gomti river originates from Gomat Taal in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh and it meets Ganga near the city of Ghazipur. The cities of Lucknow, Lakhimpur Kheri, Sultanpur and Jaunpur are located on the banks of Gomti.


The Ghaghara is a transboundary perennial river originating from, the Tibetan Plateau near Lake Mansarovar. The Ghaghara cuts through the Himalayas in Nepal and joins Ganges or Ganga at Chhapra, Bihar.


The Rapti river originates from the midway of the western Dhaulagiri Himalayas and the Mahabharat range (Nepal). The mainstream of this river originates as a spring in the southern slopes of the lower Himalayas. Because of its tendency of recurrent floods, it is also called as Sorrow of Gorakhpur.


The Gandak river forms by the tributaries Kali and Trisuli rivers (in Nepal) and it merges Ganges river near Patna at the place Sonepur. The upper catchment area of the Gandak river is desolate because it lies in the rain shadow area of the Himalayan range.

Burhi Gandak

This river originates from the west Champaran district of Bihar. It flows parallel to the east of Gandak river and Samastipur is situated on it.


Kosi river is sometimes also known as Saptakosi and the river is an antecedent transboundary river. It flows through two countries, Nepal and India. Sun Kosi, Arun, Bhote Kosi are the rivers of Kosi river system.

Because of its unstable nature, it is termed as Sorrow of Bihar. Also, Mount Everest and The Kanchenjunga are in the Kosi’s catchment area.

Right Bank Tributaries

There are two important right bank tributaries of the Ganges, Son and Yamuna.


Son river originates from the Amarkantak hill of Madhya Pradesh. So, one can say the river is an eastward flow of the Narmada river. Son river flows through the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand to join the Ganges near Patna.

Rihand and North Koel are the main tributaries of river Son.


Yamuna river is the second most pious river in India. So as it is the largest tributary of river Ganges. It originates from the Yamunotri Glacier on the southwestern slopes of Banderpoonchh peak in the Mussorie range of lower Himalayas.

So, as it originates in Uttarakhand, it flows along with the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Union Capital Delhi and finally merges with the Ganges or Ganga river at Prayagraj (Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh).

The cities of Bagpat, Delhi, Noida, Mathura, Agra, Firozabad, Etawah, Hamirpur and Allahabad lies on the banks of river Yamuna.


So, this was all about the Ganges river system. I do have one culminating pictographic representation of the important cities cum tributaries of Ganges river. So, to summarize the whole river system in a single diagram is always useful and easy to memorize.?

So, here I am posting the image of Ganges river system with its tributaries.

Some other important settlements are Haridwar, Hrishikesh, Farrukhabad, Farakka, Kolkata, Plassey (Famous for Battle of Plassey) etc.

So, to maintain the holiness of river Ganges, the Indian Government has come up with many schemes. So, one of which is Namami Gange, the most important programme.

Side by side, awareness is very important to save the river ecology. Along with the state, people should also understand their responsibilities towards the river.

Here, I am sharing one interesting graphical article by Reuters Graphics, which explains how sadly the human is exploiting the beautiful nature ?.

So, one should look for the measures to save natural resources before nature starts punishing us for our sins.

In the upcoming post, we will exclusively discuss the Yamuna River System.

Thank you and Stay Connected. ?