(Last Updated on : 14/11/2014)
Indian water bodies include about 14,500 km of inland navigable waterways. Twelve of India's rivers are classified as major, with the total catchment area over 2,528,000 km² (976,000 mile²). All major rivers of India originate from one of the three main watersheds, namely the Himalaya and the Karakoram ranges, Vindhya and Satpura range in central India and Sahyadri or Western Ghats in western India.
The Himalayan river networks are snow-fed and flow throughout the year and create most of the Indian water bodies. The other two networks creating Indian water bodies are dependent on the monsoons and shrink into rivulets during the dry season. The Himalayan Rivers that flow westward into Pakistan are the Indus, Beas, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Jhelum.
The Ganga-Brahmaputra - Meghana system has the principal catchment area of 1,100,000 sq km (424,700 mile²). The Ganga starts from the Gangotri Glacier in Uttarakhand and is one of the major Indian water bodies. It flows southeast, draining into the Bay of Bengal. The Yamuna and Gomti rivers also arise in the western Himalayas and join the Ganga in the plains. The Brahmaputra, another tributary of the Ganga, originates in Tibet and enters India through the far-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. It proceeds westwards, unifying with the Ganga in Bangladesh. The Chambal, another tributary of the Ganga begins from the Vindhya-Satpura watershed. The river flows towards the east. Westward-flowing rivers from this watershed are the Narmada and Tapti, which drain into the Arabian Sea in Gujarat. The Indian water bodies that flows from east to west constitutes 10% of the total outflow.
The Western Ghats are the source of all Deccan Rivers, which include the Mahanadi River through the Mahanadi River Delta, Godavari River, Krishna River and Kaveri River, all pouring into the Bay of Bengal. These rivers constitute 20% of India's total outflow. The heavy southwest monsoon rains cause the Brahmaputra and other Indian water bodies to inflate their banks, often flooding the surrounding areas. Though they provide rice paddy farmers with a largely liable source of natural irrigation and fertilisation, such floods have killed thousands of people and displace millions.
Major gulfs in India include the Gulf of Cambay, Gulf of Kutch and the Gulf of Mannar. Straits are also some of the important Indian water bodies that include the Palk Strait, which separates India from Sri Lanka and the Ten Degree Channel, which separates the Andamans from the Nicobar Islands and the Eight Degree Channel, which dissects the Laccadive and Amindivi Islands from the Minicoy Island towards the south. Important capes in India include the Cape Comorin, the southern tip of mainland India; Indira Point, the southernmost location of India; Rama's Bridge and Point Calimere.
Arabian Sea is to the west of India. Bay of Bengal is to the eastern side of India while India Ocean is to the south of India. Smaller Indian water bodies include the Laccadive Sea and the Andaman Sea. There are four coral reefs in India, located in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gulf of Mannar, Lakshwadeep and Gulf of Kutch. Important Indian water bodies in form of lakes include Chilka Lake, the country's largest saltwater lake in Orissa; Kolleru Lake in Andhra Pradesh; Loktak Lake in Manipur, Dal Lake in Kashmir, Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan and the Sasthamkotta Lake in Kerala.