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Largest River in Bihar, All Rivers List

Bihar, often referred to as the “Land of Rivers,” boasts a robust agricultural economy intertwined with the lifelines of its rivers. The state’s geography is divided by the mighty Ganga, creating two distinct regions – Northern and Southern Plains. In this article, we explore the largest rivers in Bihar, their characteristics and the pivotal role they play in shaping the state’s economy.

First Understand the concept of Northern and Southern Bihar Rivers with their characteristics:

Northern Bihar Rivers

The Northern Plains, situated north of the Ganga, host a network of seasonal and perennial rivers originating in the Himalayas. These rivers, including Burhi Gandak, Gandak, Mahananda, Kosi and Ghaghra, contribute significantly to the agricultural landscape. Originating in Tibet and Nepal, these rivers bring both blessings and challenges to the region.

Features of Northern Bihar Rivers:

  1. Himalayan Origin: The rivers in northern Bihar find their source in the majestic Himalayas, flowing through the diverse landscape of Tibet and Nepal.
  2. Monsoon Impact: During the monsoon season, these rivers witness a substantial increase in precipitation, creating dynamic conditions for agriculture.
  3. Ox-box Lakes Formation: Shifting courses of these rivers result in the formation of Ox-bow lakes, adding to the geographical diversity of the region.
  4. Siltation and Steep Slopes: High siltation and steep slopes in the upper reaches of these rivers make them prone to disasters, emphasizing the need for sustainable management.

Southern Bihar Rivers

The Southern Plains, drained by rivers like Kiul, Sone, Badua Chandan and Karmnasa, present a different topography. Originating from Vindhyachal hills or Chhotanagpur and Rajmahal Hills, these rivers face challenges such as obstacles from the southern bank of the Ganga and the formation of low-lying areas called Tal.

Feature of Southern Bihar Rivers:

  1. Diverse Origin: Rivers in southern Bihar originate from Vindhyachal hills, Chhotanagpur or Rajmahal Hills, showcasing the diverse geography of the region.
  2. Obstacles to Drainage: The southern bank of the Ganga poses obstacles to land drainage, impacting the overall topography.
  3. Formation of Tals: Low-lying areas, known as Tals, are formed due to the meandering courses of various rivers, creating distinctive land formations.

Largest River in Bihar

The Ganges, the largest river in Bihar, enters the state through Chausa, serving as the boundary between Saran and Bhojpur Districts. Its origin lies in the Western Range of the Himalayas. This mighty river, along with is tributaries, serves as a perpetual water source of Bihar’s agricultural heartland.

Dividing the state into two unequal parts, the Ganges play a crucial role in sustaining the agrarian landscape. Noteworthy tributaries such as Kosi, Kali, Bagmati and Gandak contribute to the Ganges’ immense flow. On the left bank, rivers like Ghaghra, Damodar, Kosi, Mahakali and Karnali add to its might, while on the right bank, Chambal, Mahananda, Son and Yamuna further enrich its waters.

An iconic symbol of connectivity, the Mahatma Gandhi Setu, a part of National Highway 19, spans the Ganges, linking North Bihar to the southern region. This monumental bridge stands as a testament to the significant of the Ganges in shaping Bihar’s geography and fostering unity across its diverse landscape.

List of Major Rivers in Bihar

Here is the complete list of the Rivers of Bihar along with their length and area of catchment and other important details:

List of Rivers in Bihar
S. No. Name of Basin Name of River Total Catchment Area (sq. km) Catchment Area in Bihar (sq. km) Length of Main River in Bihar (km)
1. Main Ganga Stem Ganga River 136970 16205 445
2. Ghaghra Ghaghra River 127950 2995 83
3. Gandak Gandak River 40553 4188 260
4. Burhi Gandak Burhi Gandak 12021 9601 320
5. Bagmati-Adhwara Bagmati 14384 6500 394
6. Kamla-Balan Kamla 7232 4488 120
7. Mahananda Mahananda 23700 6150 376
8. Son Son 70228 1483 202
9. Kosi Kosi 74030 11410 260
10. Punpun Punpun 9026 7536 235
11. Kiul-Harohar Kiul 17225 12806 41
12. Badua Badua 2215 2215 130
13. Chandan Chandan 4093 2371 118
14. Karmanasa Karmanasa 7792 5127 24

Bihar’s Largest River – Ganga River

Total Catchment Area: 136970 sq. km

Catchment Area in Bihar: 16205 sq. km

Length of Main River in Bihar: 445 km

Tributaries of Ganga: Ghaghra, Gandak, Burhi-Gandak, Kosi, Mahananda

Ganga, the primary river in Bihar, makes its entry into the state at Chausa, marking the boundary between Bhojpur and Saran districts.

The construction of the Mahatma Gandhi Setu, integrated into National Highway 19 (NH19), serves as a vital link, connecting North Bihar seamlessly with the remainder of the state. This monumental bridge plays a crucial role in facilitating transportation and connectivity across different regions of Bihar.

Second Largest River in Bihar – Ghaghra River

Total Catchment Area: 127950 sq. km

Catchment Area in Bihar: 2995 sq. km

Length of Main River in Bihar: 83 km

Tributaries: Little Gandaki, Sondhi Nala and Daha

The Ghaghra River, a transboundary perennial watercourse, originates in Tibet near Mansarovar Lake.

Flowing into the state of Bihar at Gopalganj, the Ghaghra eventually merges with the Ganga at Chhapra, becoming one of its significant left Tributaries.

Ranked as the second-largest tributary after the Yamuna, the Ghaghra holds cultural and spiritual significance for both the Buddhist and Hindu communities.

Noteworthy irrigation projects, namely the SaryuNahar Irrigation Project and SardaShayak Irrigation Scheme, harness the waters of the Ghaghra to support agricultural activities and development in the region.

Third Largest River in Bihar – Gandak River

Total Catchment Area: 40553 sq. km

Catchment Area in Bihar: 4188 sq. km

Length of Main River in Bihar: 260 km

Tributaries: Bhabsa, Harha

The Gandak River begins its journey in North Dhaulagiri, Tibet and crosses into Indian territory through Triveni, Nepal.

This river serves as the natural border between Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, defining the geographical boundary between the two states.

Eventually, the Gandak River merges with the Ganga River at Sonepur, situated near the city of Patna.

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Which is the largest river in Bihar?

Ganga, the primary river in Bihar, makes its entry into the state at Chausa, marking the boundary between Bhojpur and Saran districts.

Which is the second major river in Bihar?

The Ghaghra River, a transboundary perennial watercourse, originates in Tibet near Mansarovar Lake, is the second major river in Bihar.

Name the 5 major rivers in Bihar.

The 5 major rivers in Bihar are: Ganga, Ghaghra, Gandak, Burhi Gandak and Bagmati-Adhwara.

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