Uttarakhand is a state which is known for its hundreds of small and big rivers, the holy places of Sacred temples are situated on the banks of the rivers. Some of these rivers have religious significance in India because of their relevance in Hindu mythology. The sources of these rivers are glaciers of the Western Himalaya situated in India Nepal and Tibet borders. These rivers play a vital role in the economical, cultural, social and environmental issues of India. The hydroelectric projects on these rivers are illuminating thousands of homes. These rivers are the backbone of the Indian Economy because of their usage for farming, drinking water, electricity, fishing, trading etc.
The Ganges river is considered as the holiest river according to the Hindu religion. Symbolizing elements of divinity, spirituality, moksha and purity, this holy river body has its mention in many ancient relics. Often considered as a life-giving river and goddess, the river Ganges originates from Gomukh situated in Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand.
In North India, the Ganges river is the major water body on whose banks numerous civilizations have inhabited. Emerging from the peaks of the Garhwal Himalayas, the river takes on a journey of 2,525 km while passing through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal and merges at the Bay of Bengal.
It is also believed that bathing in the holy water or cremation and immersion of ashes at the ghats of Ganges are holy duties.
Tributaries: Alaknanda and Bhagirathi
Yamuna is another holy river in the hindu mythology which originates from the Yamuna glacier which is resting at an altitude of 6,315 meters. Flowing from below the peak of Kalindi Parbat, the melted glacier settles at the Saptarishi kund from where the journey of the river starts.
The Yamuna river passes from Uttarakhand, Haryana, New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh where the river merges with Ganga at the Triveni Sangam. The literal meaning of “Triveni Sangam” is the confluence of three rivers i.e., Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.
This river is the longest river which stretches to 1,376 Kms until it joins with river Ganga. There are many mentions of this holy river in the ancient texts and stories related to Mahabharata and Lord Krishna.
Tributaries: Tons River, Ken River, Hindon River, Sasur Khaderi River.
The Alaknanda river is considered as one of the most important water bodies which forms the river Ganges. It is one of the two major headstreams to form Ganga, the other being the Bhagirathi river. It
emerges from the confluence of Satopanth and Bhagirath Kharak glaciers and merges at the Bhagirathi river at Devprayag.
There are many tributaries of Alaknanda which flows from Uttarakhand. Alaknanda is not only considered a major source of irrigation and power generation but also holds a major role in mythologies. Apart from this it’s high currents and gushing water makes a perfect spot for various adventurous water sports.
Tributaries: Mandakini, Nandakini, Pindar.
Bhagirathi river emerges from Gaumukh which is situated at the base of the Gangotri glacier trek in Uttarakhand. This river is one of the two main headstreams of Ganga along with the Alaknanda river. Although Alaknanda river is longer than Bhagirathi, according to mythology Bhagirathi is considered the main source of river Ganga.
The river commences a distance of 205 km and joined by small rivers and streams through its course. Alaknanda river and Bhagirathi river merge together at Devprayag located at a height of 475 meters above the sea level. This confluence point is considered as a very holy place as here the Ganga becomes complete and starts its course.
Tributaries: Kedar Ganga, Jadh Ganga, Kakora Gad, Bhilangana.
Originating from the lower Himalayas of Garhwal, the Ramganga river starts its course from a height of 3,110 meters near the Lohba village. The river flows down through a mountainous terrain and while covering its course it forms many falls and rapids. The Ramganga river is 155 km long and flows from the southwest towards the Kumaon Himalayas. This is also one of the most popular Uttarakhand rivers that you must visit during your travels.
The course of the river passes through Jim Corbett National Park and descends to the plains. The cities which are inhabited at the banks of river Ramganga are Moradabad, Bareilly, Badaun, Shahjahanpur, and Hardoi situated in Uttar Pradesh.
Tributaries: Gangan, Kho, Kosi, Deoha and Aril.
River Kali emerges from the Trans-Himalayan zone of the Greater Himalayas which is situated at a height of 3,600 meters. Also called by the names of Mahakali, Kali Ganga and Sharda, this river flows from Kalapaani to Tanakpur and forms a liquid border between India and Nepal.
The Dhauliganga merges with Kali river at Tawaghat located in Pithoragarh district in Uttarakhand. This river creates an adventurous opportunity for people who want to experience white water rafting at high rapids.
Tributary: Sharda river.
The Bhilangna river is a tributary of the Bhagirathi river, one of the major rivers of Uttarakhand. The river rises at the foot of the Khatling Glacier while the popular Khatling trek route follows the side of river Bhilangna for a major part. The major towns which the river nourishes are Ghuttu, Biroda, Kalyani, Bhelbahi, Ghonti, etc. The river flows into Bhagirathi at old Tehri where the Tehri Dam has been built.
Tributary: Bal Ganga
The Gaula is a small Himalayan river running for a total distance of 103 km. The river is a tributary of the Ramganga river which is itself a tributary of river Ganga. The source of the river is at Sattal lakes near Paharpani while the end point is Kichchha. The major towns that the river passes through include Kathgodam, Shahi and Haldwani. This is also one of the most visited Uttarakhand rivers for visitors planning camping.
Gori Ganga is a river located in the Munsiyari tehsil of Pithoragarh. The river starts from the Milam Glacier and runs for a total length of 104 km to eventually meet the Kali river in Jauljibi. The river valley has some popular trekking routes to Nanda Devi National Park, Trishuli, Panchauli and Nanda Kot. The river also flows through the mighty mountains of Rajramba and Chaudhara.
Kosi is one of the major rivers of Uttarakhand starting from the Himalayas at Dharpani Dhar and eventually joins the parallel Ramganga river in Uttar Pradesh. With a length of 170 km, the river passes through the eastern front of the famous Jim Corbett National Park, which acts as a water source for wildlife. The river also passes through the towns Ramnagar, Betal Ghat, Bujan, and Amdana providing water for irrigation.
Tributary : None
The Mandakini river is another major Himalayan river running for only around 72 km with Grade V waters for a major portion of it. It passes through some of the holiest places in Uttarakhand including Sonprayag, Ukhimath, Kedarnath and Rudraprayag. The river’s flow makes it one of the greatest spots for kayaking and river rafting in Uttarakhand.
Tributaries: Vasukiganga, Kaliganga, Madhyamaheshwar Ganga.
The Kumaon region gives rise to many rivers. Saryu is one of the main rivers in Uttarakhand from the Kumaon region. It starts from Sarmool and flows for 145 km to eventually end at Pancheshwar. The Sup, Ghati and Bhuni ghats are some of the most famous along the river bank. The river flows through the enchanting Malla Katyur valley and joins with multiple big and small tributaries.
Tributaries: Lahur, Gomti, Jalaurgad, Alaknandi, Panar