A Brief Summary of India - Part III

Exact Match
  Location & Extent


  Mountain ranges
  The Himalayas

  The Desert


  Deccan rivers

  People and



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Watersheds There are mainly three watersheds.
  1. Himalayan range with its Karakoram branch in the north,
  2. Vindhyanchal and Satpura ranges in Central India, and 
  3. Sahyadri or Western Ghats on the west coast.

Rivers The sacred Ganga The main rivers of the Himalayan group are the Indus, Ganga and the Bhramputra. These rivers are both snow-fed and rain-fed and have therefore continuous flow throughout the year. Himalayan rivers discharge about 70% of their inflow into the sea. This includes about 5% from central Indian rivers. They join the Ganga and drain into the Bay of Bengal.

The Indus which the Aryans called the Sindhu, has lent its name to India. Its valleys on both sides have been the seats of civilization. This historic river has five major tributaries - the Jhelum, the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej. The Indus rises from the Mount Kailash (the abode of Lord Shiva) in Tibet north of the Himalayas, at an elevation of 5,180 metres  and traverses many miles through the Himalayas before it is joined by its tributaries in the Punjab. It travels west and southwest for 2,897 kilometres and empties into the Arabian Sea through several mouths. Thereafter it passes into Sind (Pakistan) to fall into the Arabian Sea.

The Ganga (also Ganges)  famous like in legends and history, is considered the most sacred river by the Hindus. It covers, what is called the heartland of India, which was the main centre of the ancient Aryan culture. It is the greatest waterway in India and one of the largest in the world. It is most important to the Indians for the part it plays in the Hindu religion. 

Each year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit such holy cities as Varanasi and Allahabad along the banks of the Ganga to bathe in the river and to take home some of its water. Temples line the riverbank, and ghats (stairways) lead down to the water. Some pilgrims come to bathe in the water only to cleanse and purify themselves. The sick and crippled come hoping that the touch of the water will cure their ailments. Others come to die in the river, for the Hindus believe that those who die in the Ganga will be carried to Paradise.

The river is an important trade area. Its valley is fertile and densely populated. Some of India's largest cities, such as Calcutta, Howrah, Patna, Varanasi, and Kanpur, stand on its banks. But the Ganga is less important commercially than it once was. Irrigation has drained much of its water and steamers can navigate only in the lower part of the river. 

The Ganga has its source in an ice cave 3,139 metres above sea level in the Himalayas of northern India. The glacier known as Gangotri gives rise to the river and its several tributaries. The river flows toward the southeast and through Bangladesh for 2,480 kilometres to empty into the Bay of Bengal . Several tributary rivers, including the Yamuna, Ramganga, Gomti, Ghaghra, Son, and Sapt Kosi add to the waters of the Ganga. They spread like a fan in the plain of India thus forming the largest river basin in India, with an area, one quarter of the total area of India. The Brahmaputra River joins some of the branches of the Ganga near its mouth, and together the two rivers form a large delta.  


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