Rivers in Rajasthan

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Rivers in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh

Rajasthan is biggest state in area with 5.5 percent population but only 1 percent water resources of the country. State is divided in to 13 watersheds and 59 sub-watersheds.

Flow of Rivers

Most of the Rivers originate from the Aravali hills and flow either in east or west. Those Rivers flowing in east merge with Yamuna. Those flowing in west fall into Gulf of Khambhat or lost in desert.

Chambal River

Chambal is one of the main rivers of central Indian and one of the major tributaries of Yamuna. It originates in Janapav near Mhow (Madhya Pradesh) in the Vindhaya mountain range in West Central India. In the epic Mahabharata, Chambal is mentioned as Charmanyavati.

It was believed to be a result of the blood of a large number of animals sacrificed by King Rantideva. According to a legend, Draupadi had cursed the river because of which the people did not use it. It is because of this that the river does not have a holy status and has been saved from pollution. The curse has proved to be a boon and Chambal today is one of the most pristine rivers in the country. It acts as a home and a breeding ground for many species of water animals.

The river Chambal flows north east through Madhya Pradesh to enter Rajasthan and creates a border between the two states. It then turns south east toward Uttar Pradesh to join the Yamuna. During its 900 km long travel, the river crosses many physical features and all kinds of terrains before meeting Yamuna at Pachnada near Bhareh in Uttar Pradesh. As the name signifies, Pachnada is the place where five rivers meet. These are Kwari, Chambal, Sind, Yamuna and Pahuj.

Chambal is a rain fed river and so during the summer months its water level goes down, but it does manage to have a drainage basin of over 143,219 sq km. The Gandhi Sagar Dam at the border of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Rana Pratap Sagar Dam in Chittorgarh district and the Jawahar Sagar Dam near Kota have successfully catered to the electricity requirements of this region while the Kota Barrage diverts the water from the three dams for irrigation.

Course - The river Chambal flows for about 900 km before joining Yamuna at Pachnada near Bhareh in Uttar Pradesh. After flowing around 226 km in the north easterly direction in Rajasthan, it marks the boundary between the two states for almost 252 km. For the next 117 km it becomes the boundary between Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and finally after entering Uttar Pradesh it flows for 40 km and joins the Yamuna. At its source, the river is at a height of 843m and from there it flows towards north for 320 km to enter a deep gorge at Chourasigarh in Rajasthan. It joins the Yamuna at an elevation of 122m and is a part of the greater Gangetic drainage system. At about 344 km from source, for the next 96 km, the river flows through a deep gorge but after that it traverses the wide plains.

Tributaries - In its long journey, the river is joined by many smaller rivers like the Banas and Mej rivers which join it on the left bank and the Parbati, Kali Sindh and Shipra rivers which join it on the right bank. Sipra - Also known as Kshipra, this is a sacred river of the Hindus with the holy city of Ujjain located on its banks. The Vindhya Range is where the source of the river is located.

Parabati - This river originates from the north of the Vindhaya range in Sehore district. It flows in the north east direction covering the districts of Rajgarh and Guna in Madhya Pradesh and Kota in Rajasthan. The 354 km long course of the river finally joins the Chambal on the right bank at Palighat.

Arvari River

Arvari is a small river that flows through the Alwar district in Rajasthan, India. The river had become a temporary stream that remained dry for most of the year. It dried up completely in 1940’s, due to extended draughts in the area. Arvari is a small river of just 90km. Its course runs through the district of Alwar district, Rajasthan. Its mouth is in the village Bhavta. Of the two sources, the other stream rises in Bhaonta-Kolyala villages. There are more than 70 villages that lie in the catchment area of this river, all in the Thanagazi block of Rajasthan. Some of the villages are enriched by it are Hiriavas, Dumoli, Khadata, Khatala, Samatsar, Chosla, Lalpura, Palasana, Joge-ki-dhani, Samra, Hamirpur, Natala, Jagnathpura, Kaled and many others.

The Baironath Public Wildlife Sanctuary is located near the dam at the mouth of the river in Bhaonta-Kolyala. The river finally meets the Sainthal Sagar.

The River is a very small one, which has two tributaries one of which rises in the Bhaonta-Kalyala villages. The source of the other stream is in the village of Bhavta. The river has no other tributaries.

Banas River

Banas is a river that originates in Rajasthan and joins Chambal. Khamnor hills in the Aravalli mountain range (about 5 km from Kumbhalgarh in Rajsamand district in Rajasthan) are the source of this river. The river flows through the Mewar region finally meeting Chambal at the village of Rameshwar in Sawai Madhopur district.

During its journey of 512 km, rivers like Berach, Menali, Kothari, Khari, Dai, Dheel, Sohadara, Morel and Kalisil join it.

West Banas River originating in Rajasthan and flowing down to the little wetlands of Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. The Banas too is known to be of seasonal nature; nevertheless it is vital for the lives of people living in the areas like Sirohi Rajasthan, Mount Abu, Banaskantha and Patan. The only source of flowing water in these regions; the Banas River is also responsible for the filling of several ponds in the area of its basin. The Banas River has several ongoing projects, but one of the most important dams on the river is the Dantiwada Dam, that is a source of water for about 111 villages in the region and also is the chief source of irrigation water.

The Banas River has its birthplace in the southern Aravalli Range in the district of Sirohi in Rajasthan. It flows south into Gujarat and towards its mouth in the little Rann of Kutch region. The Banas River is approximately over 260 kilometers in length and this creates a total catchment area of about 8674 sq. km.

Sipu is the only significant right bank tributary, whereas the major tributaries on the right bank are the Khari, Sukli, Balaram, Suket, Sevaran and the Batriya.

Course - The Banas River runs its course from the origin to its mouth for over 260 kilometers. Its origin lies in the Sirohi district of Rajasthan; the southern Aravalli Range is where the Banas gets its water from. Its course towards its mouth runs across two states, it flows southwards into Gujarat and finally forms the mouth in little Rann of Kutch.

Bandi River

The Bandi is a tributary of the river Luni in Rajasthan. Its main drainage is in the district of Pali. It is a seasonal river which dries up in the summer seasons. The River rises at 25°15’N latitude and 72°56'e Longitude.

It joins the Mithai and Khari rivers near the pickup weir of Bombadra, and after this confluence, it is known as the Bandi River. It then flows for about 45 km after which it joins the Luni River near the Lakhar village.

The Hemawas dam (near Hemawas) is on this river. The headquarter of Pali, the district through which the river flows, is also located on the bank of this river.

Tributaries of Bandi River - The Rivers Khari and Mithai meet at pickup weir of Bombadra. This confluence gives rise to the Bandi River.

Mithai - The River rises in the Aravalli Hills in the district of Pali, and disappears in the Jalore District. It has has Temple Nimbeshwar located on its bank. Bali in India and Falna are part of its drainage.

Khari - This River originates near Matana Madh village in Gujarat. This 50 km. long river covers a basin of 113 sq. km.

Berach River

The Berach is a river flowing through western part of Rajasthan. It is a major tributary of the river Banas of Rajasthan. Chittorgarh is situated on this river. Chittorgarh is a popular tourist spot in India. Places to visit in this legendary city are the Chittorgarh Fortress, Rana Kumbha Palace, Padmini Palace, Kalika Mata temple and Vijay Stambh. The cities situated on its bank or nearby have rich historical background. Built by the Maurya Dynasty, Chittorgarh was once the capital of Mewar.

Course - The river originates at Gogunda hills in the Udaipur District. Its source lies in the northeast of the city of Udaipur, in the hills of the district. It flows in northeastern direction as it drains the districts of Udaipur, Chittorgarh and Bhilwara. It then has its confluence with the Banas River in Mandalgarh taluk near the village named Bigod, in Bhilwara district. It extends from 24°54'13"N to 74°37'25"E.

The river has a length of 157 km, and its catchment area is 7,502 sq. km. The fortress city of Chittorgarh is situated on the banks of the Berach, and the Berach River Bridge is located in Chittorgarh. Besides Chittorgarh, the other nearby cities are Nimbahera, a historically important city which is situated about 350 km south west of Jaipur and Jawad.

Tributaries - The major tributaries of the river are Ahar, Orai, Wagli Wagon and Ghambhiri. But, river Ahar is the most important tributary. Ahar River is an important tributary of the Berach. It has drains the plains of the city Udaipur and is Udaipur’s largest drainage system. It is fed by the spill water of the well-known Pichola and Fatehpur lakes. The Ahar Empire prospered on the banks of this river.

Gambhiri - Rising in the hills near the district of Karauli, this river lies in the north-eastern part of the state of Rajasthan. It flows in a south-north direct up to the Kanjoli village in Toda Bhim. It then flows in a northeastern direction up to the Mertha village in Roopbas Block and then enters Uttar Pradesh. The river flows back to Rajasthan near Catchapaura village in Dholpur district. It flows along the borders of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Chittorgarh is located at the confluence of the river with the Berach. It is an important source of irrigation water.

Important tributaries of this river are Parbati, Kher and Sesa. This river plays key roles in providing enough water to the Keoladev Ghana Bird Century in Bharatpur in the Rajasthan state. As Gambhir River is a seasonal river, its flowing is concentrated only for the rainy season.

Orai - This tributary of the river Berach extends from 28°22'6"N to 81°13'18"E. The city of Orai (Auraiya) in Uttar Pradesh is named after this river. The nearby cities are Bidhyapur Vdc (Surkhet), Gulariya Chauraha and Dhangadhi.

All the tributary-streams and Ahar River join the Berach River on the right bank of it.

Ghaggar-Hakra River

Course of Sarasvati/Ghaggar/Hakra River

The Ghaggar-Hakra River is an important one, flowing through the plains of northern India in the western direction. The Ghaggar-Hakra originates in the Shivalik ranges in Himachal Pradesh and flows south through the states of Haryana and Rajasthan, eventually entering Pakistan where it dries out before reaching the Arabian Sea.

The present day Ghaggar-Hakra channel is drained by an ephermal stream with irregular water supply. The monsoon season brings an adequate flow of water but the brief flow of water is punctuated by long, dry spells. The total length of the present day channel is around 320 kilometers, majority of which falls in the Indian domain. The channel is divided into two lengths by the Ottu barrage, near Sirsa. The part of the river to the east of the barrage is called Ghaggar and the other half Hakra. The barrage leads to the formation of a large lake that serves as a feeder for water canals.

Paleogeographic studies indicate the existence of a wide channel in place of the current Ghaggar-Hakra. Experts relate this phenomenon to the high discharges the channel carried during large scale melting of glaciers at the end of the ice age around ten thousand years ago. The paleo channel of this river was drained by the Saraswati and discharged into the Rann of Kutch.

Studies indicate that the river has shrunk in magnitude. Previously, it is believed to have been a brimming river, watering the Bronze Age civilizations. On it banks lay numerous settlements that were part of the most advanced human civilization at the time. The vestigial channel boasts of relict sites of Indus Valley settlements. Artifacts uncovered at regular intervals stands as a testimony to this fact. Potteries, statues and jewelry constitute the majority of the findings. Some studies have reported over five hundred sites of significant Archeological findings that highlight the past glory of the river.

Even today, the Ghaggar-Hakra River constitutes an important source in terms of irrigation for Haryana in particular. The Ottu Barrage serves as a conduit for two canals, the northern Ghaggar canal and the southern Ghaggar canal which disperses the water of the streams to various districts of Haryana.

In the past, the Ghaggar-Hakra River served as an important tributary to the Indus River. It coursed through a flourishing civilization and received water from the perennial glaciers of the Himalayas. In time, the ancient Saraswati diminished and gave way to an ephermal stream that retained the channel of the once magnificent river. Geological evidence suggests innumerable tributaries pouring into the Ghaggar River. The Tons River, presently a tributary of the Yamuna is believed to have flowed west to join the Ghaggar. Current tributaries are far less in number and those that remain do not provide a steady flow. The river relies on base flow from ground water to provide paltry replenishments.

Course - Except for a small segment in the lower Himalayan reaches, most of the river flows through the arid floodplains of northern India. In the past, the river is believed to have received considerable outflows from other Himalayan river such as the Yamuna. At present, its expanse is limited within a small area.

Ghaggar-Hakra River originates in the state of Himachal Pradesh in the Chivalric hills of Sirmaur. It flows west to enter the Ambala district in Punjab. The river crisscrosses the district of Patiala, Kurukshetra and Hissar, entering and reentering at many places. Numerous ephermal streams join the Ghaggar through this stretch such as Jhajjhar.

The direction of flow is from east to west all throughout the course except in brief interludes where the river adjusts itself. Tributaries

Markanda - Markanda is a major tributary that originates in the slopes of the Himalayas. It travels a length of over 100 kilometers through the districts of Ambala and Kurukshetra before joining the Ghaggar River near Chikha. Along the way, it receives contributions from rivulets such as Roon Nadi and Begna Nadi.

Chautang - The Chautang is a virtually nonexistent stream that channels through the plains of Haryana and Rajasthan. This stream is believed to be the relic of the glorious Drsadvati River mentioned in the Vedas. The present day channel is parched and dry, punctuated by a few lakes on the channel that once used to be perennial. In times of rain, the river drains water into the Ghaggar near Saraswati Lake. The origins of the river can be traced to the Shivalik range.

Jawai River

Location of Sheoganj in ‎Sirohi District

Originating from the Aravalli Ranges in the Udaipur district of Rajasthan state, the famous Jawai River continues its trajectory till the end. By the time this river reaches up to the Jalore district nearby Sayala, its course starts changing with its joining with the Khari River. With 2,976 km² catchment area of this river, it continues its journey toward northwest direction for approximately 96 kilometers. The major districts Jalore, Pali and Udaipur are famous catchment areas of this river.

Course - Jawai River originates from Udaipur and moves towards the Jalore and Pali districts where it meets with many tributaries during its path of flow. The course of this river with its movement from one part of Rajasthan state to another is worth noticeable.

Tributaries - Main tributary of this river is Sukri River. Another tributary which submerges with this river is Khari River.

Jawai River is famous for one more reason. Twin cities of Sumerpur and Sheoganj are situated on the banks of this river. It has a social and historic relevance today.

Kali Sindh River

Kali Sindh river originates in the Vindhyan hill in the district of Dewas at Bagli village in Madhya Pradesh. It crosses the State Highway No 18 connecting Indore and state capital Bhopal near Sonkatch and blocks the road traffic for hours when in flood.

Parwan, Niwaj and Ahu rivers are tributaries of Kali Sindh. It joins Chambal at Nonera village in Baran district of Rajasthan.

The Kali Sindh River is the biggest river flowing in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh state. Madhya Pradesh is a prominent state of India where the river covers the maximum portion of Malwa region. The river then joins Chambal River at the downstream of Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan state.

The river belongs to the Yamuna basin, being one of the perpetual streams of the state, it is fed by Ahu, Niwaj and Parwan Rivers. The origin point of the river is Vindhya Range and then flowing down further to the north direction through Baran and Jhalawar district. The river meets the Chambal River at Nonera village in Baran district.

The total catchment area of this river in Madhya Pradesh state is 26698 km and the total length is four hundred and seventy. The 461 lengths of the river fall in Madhya Pradesh and about 9 km in Uttar Pradesh.

The major tributaries of Kali Sindh River are Kunwari, Pahuj, Parbati and Mahuar. The river covers a large portion of the land in Madhya Pradesh before entering the Rajasthan state in India.

The popular place where the Kali Sindh River enters in Rajasthan is in Binda village. The total distance covered by the Kali Sindh River in Rajasthan is 145 kilometers. The river later on merges in Chambal River which is flowing in the Kota district of Nonera Village.

Course - The Kali Sindh River starts off on the Malwa Plateau located in Vidisha district. The river flowing northeast covers districts such as Ashokanagar, Guna, Bhind, Datia, Gwalior and Shivpuri of Madhya Pradesh, which further merges with Yamuna River in Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh. Apart from this, Manikheda Dam has been built across the Kali Sindh River where the majority of the surrounding regions are benefiting through this. The drinking water and irrigation requirements are facilitated through this river.

Tributaries - the Kali Sindh River tributaries are:

Parbati - Originating from the northern slopes of Vindhya Range in Madhya Pradesh, it branches out from Kali Sindh River further flowing in Baran district of Rajasthan state. It flows through Jhalawar district and the Kota district of the state. The Parbati River catchment is approximately 3180 square miles. The river from these districts of Rajasthan finally merges at the right bank of Chambal River.

Pahuj (Pushpavati) - Pahuj River is the waterway flowing through the historical city of Jhansi situated in Uttar Pradesh. The river originates from the hills of Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh and and Tikamgarh of Madhya Pradesh.

It is the tributary of Kali Sindh River that further joins the Yamuna River in Etawah of Uttar Pradesh state. The river has also been given another name “Pushpavati” in several religious texts. Pushpavati (पुष्पवती)(III.83.12) is mentioned in Vana Parva, Mahabharata/Book III Chapter 83. It says fasting there for three nights one sanctifieth his own race, besides earning the merit of the gift of a thousand kine.

Mahuar - Flowing from the state of Madhya Pradesh, Mahuar River is the tributary of Kali Sindh River. Summers can be really scorching here, all rock and heat. The only respite is this small watercourse called Mahuar. It is not a small river, but during summers the water levels dips. However, the river still runs deep enough to give a cool dip during scorching months.

Kunwari - Kunwari River often spelled as “Kwari river” flows in Bhind, Morena districts of Madhya Pradesh. The river has been branched out of Kali Sindh River and merges with Yamuna River in the Etawah district. Districts like Kailaras, Sheopur, Morena and Bijeypur are situated on the banks of this river.

Luni River

Luni River is located in the western side of Rajasthan state; has its origin in the Arravalli Ranges at Naga hills nearby the Pushkar valley. The river begins its course in the Ajmer region and then continues to flow in the peaty areas of Rann of Kutch in the state of Gujarat. The river covers 530 kilometers from Rajasthan to Gujarat state. This river has many names depending upon the place from where it changes its course.

Course - It is being called Sagarmati at the time of its origin but once this river passes through Govindgarh area, its name changes & Sarsuti tributary merges in it. Sarsuti tributary originates from Pushkar Lake. The name, Luni River originates from this place itself that makes it popular until its end in Gujarat.

The Basin of Luni River is of 37,363 km² with the inclusion of several parts of the Ajmer region from Barmer to Jalor and then moving towards Jodhpur, Nagaur and Pali before its entry into the Sirohi district. Upon reaching Gujarat especially in the northern side of the state, Luni River touches Mithavirana and crosses through the areas like Jordiyali, Mavsari Vav and Radhanpur regions in Banaskantha area.

Tributaries - Famous tributaries of Luni River are: Jawai, Sukri and Jojari which merge with this river during the course of its flowing from Rajasthan state to Gujarat state. Although this river has several tributaries in Rajasthan itself but the notable ones are in the adjacent state of Gujarat. The tributaries in left side include Sukri, Mithri, Bandi, Khari, Jawai, Guhiya and Sagi while Jojari tributary is one of the key tributary from right side of this river. Such factors are notable while you explore this river.

Once this river enters into Rann of Kutch desert traversing 530 kilometers it gets saline in nature due to the high salinity of this area. It is a primary source of irrigation in this particular area & also solves water deficiency of this area.

This River is also known as Lavanavari which means Salt River in Sanskrit.

Mahi River

Mahi River originates at Minda Village in Dhar Madhya Pradesh District and joins Gulf of Khambat. It rises in Madhya Pradesh and, after flowing through the Vagad region of Rajasthan, enters Gujarat and flows into the Arabian Sea. It is one of three west-flowing rivers in India, along with Tapti River and the Narmada River.

Total drainage area of this basin is 34842 km² out of which only 6700 km² lies in Madhya Pradesh. Total length of the river is 583 km of which 158 km traverses in Madhya Pradesh. Anas is the major tributary of Mahi in the State.

Other Rivers originating in Rajasthan

Banganga River – originates from Bairath in Jaipur district, flows through Ramgarh, Dausa and Baswa about 164 km and enters Vair tahsil Bharatpur and then into Agra district of Uttar Pradesh.

Sukel River – Originates at hills of Jalor and falls in Rann of Katchh.

Jakham River – Originates at Chhoti Sadri in Chittorgarh district, Rajasthan.

Som River – Originates at Bichhawara (Jhadol) in Udaipur district, Rajasthan.

Kantli River – Originates at Khandela hills in Sikar district, Rajasthan.

Kakney River – Originates at Kotri hills in Jaisalmer district, Rajasthan.

Kothari River – Originates at Dewas (Jhadol) in Udaipur district, Rajasthan.

Sabarmati River – Originates at Padrara (Gogunda) hills in Udaipur district, Rajasthan.

District wise Rivers

Here is the list of District wise Rivers:

  1. AjmerSagarmati, Saraswati, Luni, Khari, Dai, Banas
  2. AlwarSabi, Ruparel, Sota, Chuhar, Sindh, Kali, Gauri, Arvari
  3. BanswaraMahi, Annas, Chaini
  4. BaranParban, Parbati
  5. BarmerSukri, Luni, Mithri
  6. BharatpurBanganga, Gambhiri, Ruparel, Parvati, Kakund
  7. BhilwaraBanas, Berach, Kothari, Khari, Chandrabhaga, Menali, Mansi
  8. Bikaner – None
  9. BundiGhoda Pachhar, Kural, Chambal, Mangli, Mej
  10. ChittorgarhChambal, Banas, Berach, Bamani, Gambhiri, Aurai, Jakham
  11. Churu – None
  12. DausaMorel, Banganga, Sanwan
  13. DholpurChambal, Gambhiri, Parvati
  14. DungarpurSom, Jakham, Mahi
  15. GanganagarGhaggar
  16. HanumangarhGhagghar
  17. JaipurBanganga, Bandi, Dhundh, Morel, Sabi, Dai, Masi
  18. JaisalmerKakney, Lathi, Dhogri
  19. JalorJawai, Bandi, Luni, Khari, Sagi, Sukri,
  20. JhalawarKalisindh, Ahu, Niwaj, Piplaj, Ghoda Pachhar, Chandrabhaga, Kyasari, Parban, Andheri
  21. JhunjhunuKantli
  22. JodhpurLuni, Mithari, Jojari, Gunaimata
  23. KarauliChambal, Banas, Gambhiri
  24. KotaChambal, Kali Sindh, Parvati, Ahu, Parban, Niwaj, Andheri
  25. NagaurLuni, Harsor
  26. PaliLilri, Sukri, Jawai, Bandi
  27. RajsamandBanas, Chandrabhaga
  28. Sawai MadhopurChambal, Banas, Gambhiri, Morel
  29. SikarKrishnawati, Kantli, Sabi, Sota, Mandha
  30. SirohiSukri, Jawai, Khari, Kapalganga, Bandi, Krishnawati, West Banas
  31. TonkBanas, Masi, Bandi, Sohadara
  32. UdaipurBerach, Wakal, Som, Jakham, Sabarmati, Gomati, Kothari, Banas
Ref – Mohan Lal Gupta, Rajasthan Gyan Kosh, Rajasthani Granthagar, Jodhpur, 2008, pp. 72-75

List of Rivers in Rajasthan

Here is the List of Rivers in Rajasthan and districts in catchment of each River:

Ref – Mohan Lal Gupta, Rajasthan Gyan Kosh, Rajasthani Granthagar, Jodhpur, 2008, pp. 72-75

See also