Difference Between Himalayan Rivers and Peninsular Rivers

Rivers play a very important role in India. They are the chief source of irrigation, the source for drinking purposes as well as proving fertile soil. Based on origin, the river system of India has been broadly classified into two categories – Himalayan Rivers and Peninsular Rivers.

Though they all flow through India itself, they do have interesting and distinct features of their own. Below is the comparison between Himalayan Rivers and Peninsular Rivers which helps in better understanding their characteristics and facts.

Himalayan Rivers vs Peninsular Rivers

The main difference between the Himalayans Rivers and Peninsular Rivers is that they have different sources of origin. Because of its source, the former flows throughout the year while the latter is seasonal.

Himalayan Rivers vs Peninsular Rivers

Himalayan rivers are the ones that arise from the northern Himalayan ranges. Their origin is in the northern region of India. They carry water throughout the year due to the presence of melting glaciers. Thus they are perennial rivers.

Peninsular rivers are the ones that arise from the Peninsular plateau region. Most of them flow from west to east. Their origin is in the plateau region of India. They are seasonal and remain dry during a certain part of the year.

Comparison Table Between Himalayans Rivers and Peninsular Rivers

Parameters of ComparisonHimalayan RiversPeninsular Rivers  
SourceThey are snow-fed rivers formed by melting glaciers of the Himalayan mountain rangeThey are rain-fed rivers. The central highland and also peninsular plateau
Delta formationThey form fertile deltasThey mostly form estuaries which are comparatively less fertile
Nature of riversThey are perennial rivers since they are formed by melting glaciersThey are non- perennial rivers, also known as seasonal rivers.  They do dry up during certain parts of the year since rain is the main source
ValleysThese rivers generally flow through deep and V-shaped valleysThese rivers generally flow through comparatively shallow and U-shaped valleys
DrainageFall under the category of antecedent drainage type. It forms a dendritic drainage pattern due to its flowing motion from the mountains.Falls under the category of consequent drainage type. Generally forms radial drainage patterns due to their downward flow in all directions

What are Himalayan Rivers?

The three main rivers of the Himalayan river system are the Ganga, the Brahmaputra, and the Indus. Due to the high rate of snow melting, the Himalayan Rivers get flooded every year. Another reason is they pass through regions of high precipitation during its flow. Since the melting of glaciers happens year long, these rivers are perennial and have water at any point of the year.

 The Brahmaputra is the longest river in India. A large part of the river Brahmaputra flows outside the country.

They have an antecedent drainage system that is formed as a result of earth movements.

These rivers generally have large basins and also large catchment areas, and carry huge amounts of water and silt. The deltas formed are very fertile due to the silt it carries down from mountains. It forms valleys that are V-shaped.

They have long and deep courses. They are considered as the young rivers. The peninsular rivers are comparatively shorter and shallower in course.

What are  Peninsular Rivers?

The main Peninsular rivers are Godavari, Kaveri, Tapi, Mahanadi, Krishna, and Tapi. The Godavari is the largest peninsular river in India. These rivers are seasonal since they are rain-fed yet carry a large volume of water. They dry up during the scarcity of rain and widens in the season of monsoon. Hence they are also known as seasonal rivers.

Due to the plateau region through which they flow, they mostly travel straight and hence do not form meanders.

They have comparatively smaller basins and catchment areas. They flow towards the Bay of Bengal and are considered old rivers.

They lack alluvial deposits due to the area through which they flow and hence the deltas are not much fertile.

It forms valleys that are U-shaped and shallow.

Main Differences Between Himalayan Rivers and Peninsular Rivers

These two types of rivers have different origins. The source for the Himalayan Rivers is the Himalayan Mountain Range in the north. Whereas, the source of the Peninsular Rivers is the plateau region. The Western Ghats mainly give rise to these rivers

  1. The Himalayan Rivers carry alluvial soil and form prominent deltas. The deltas are very fertile. The Peninsular Rivers due to their inclination of flow do not carry silt or useful soil in the course of its flow. Thus it is generally a lot less fertile. They mostly form estuaries.
  2. The Himalayan Rivers are snow-fed rivers. They are fed by the melting glaciers of the Himalayas. This results in the rivers being perennial and has water throughout the year. It also receives natural monsoon rainfall. Peninsular Rivers however depend on the rain. They are rain-fed rivers and highly depend on the monsoon rainfall every year. For a part of the year, they remain dry and are termed as seasonal rivers.
  3. The Himalayan Rivers are known to form deep V-shaped valleys. The valleys formed by Peninsular Rivers are mostly shallow and U-shaped.
  4. Talking about basins, the Himalayan Rivers comprises large basins and catchment areas. The Peninsular Rivers do have basins but are comparatively smaller than the Himalayan Rivers.
  5. The three most important rivers under the Himalayan Rivers are Ganga, Brahmaputra, and Indus.The five most important rivers under the Peninsular Rivers are Godavari, Kaveri, Mahanadi, Krishna, and Tapi.


The Himalayan Rivers and Peninsular Rivers flow through the territories of India. They have unique features. The rivers are further categorized based on their characteristics.

They are a major source of hydropower electricity for the people. They are also significant for many other purposes. The land through which they flow is the factor on which their fertility depends. The monsoons play a very important part in rivers. They flow through a large part of India.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009254118300846
  2. https://www.fisheriesjournal.com/archives/2016/vol4issue5/PartH/4-5-61-894.pdf
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