On the basis of their size, Indian rivers can be classified as under.

  • Major river basins with catchment area of over 20,000 km2 which account for 85 per cent of total run-off of all the rivers. There are 14 major riv-ers in India, including, Ganga, Indus, Godavari, Krishna, Brahmaputra, Narmada, Tapi, Kaveri, Penner, Brhamani, Mahi, Subamrckha and Sabar-mati.
  • Medium river basins with catchment area between 2000 and 20,000 km2, accounting for 7 per cent of total run-off. They are 44 in number.
  • Minor river basins with a catchment area of below 2000 km2 accounting for 8 per cent of total run-off.
  • Over 90 per cent of the water carried by the Indian rivers is drained into the Bay of Bengal, the rest is drained into Arabian sea or forms inland drainage..
  • The Ganga river has maximum water storage capacity followed by Krishna.
  • The river system of India formed varied drainage patterns:
    (i) Antecedent pattern - Indus, Brahmaputra, Satluj, etc.
    (ii) Superimposed pattern — Damodar, Chambal, Banas etc.
    (iii) Dendritic pattern — by the rivers of Ganga Plain.
    (iv) Rectangular pattern — by Kosi and its tributaries
    (v) Radial pattern — Amarkantak region, Mikir, Kathiawar, etc. parallel pattern — in west coastal plane and inland drainage in Rajasthan desert area.