Rivers in Karnataka

The rivers in Karnataka are a source of water for drinking and household purposes. They are integral to agriculture, a source of hydropower and used for transportation in certain areas. In some instances, they are also vital for the tourism industry in the state. Many rivers, both east-flowing and west-flowing, are found within the boundaries of Karnataka.

Most of the rivers originate in the Western Ghats and runs towards the eastern side of the state. These are some of the largest rivers in the state and drain towards the Bay of Bengal. Therefore almost all the major east-flowing rivers are inter-state rivers.

Indian coracle on the Kabini River. Photographer Gnissah

The rivers in the Western Ghats that generally flow westward meet the Arabian Sea after a short run varying from 50 kilometres to 300 kilometres.  These rivers are very steep in the upper reaches and fairly steep in the middle reaches. Near the sea, they have relatively flat gradients and a mild flood plain.

East-flowing Rivers In Karnataka

The Kaveri (or the Cauvery) is the largest river in the state and originates from the district of Coorg. It is often called the Dakshina Ganga (the Ganges of the South) and considered one of the sacred rivers of India. Talakaveri, the origin of the River Kaveri, is a famous pilgrimage and tourist spot set amidst Bramahagiri Hills near Madikeri in Coorg. The tributaries of the Kaveri include:

The Kabini, a tributary of Kaveri, originates in Kerala and flows eastward. The river Kabini joins the Kaveri at Tirumakudal Narasipur.

The Hemavati begins in the Western Ghats and joins the river Kaveri near Krishnarajasagar.

The Krishna is second largest river in peninsular India. It originates in Maharashtra and passes through Karnataka. The principal tributaries of the Krishna in Karnataka are:

  • The Ghataprabha
  • The Malaprabha
  • The Bhima
  • The Tungabhadra

The Tungabhadra is the chief tributary of Krishna River. Tungabhadra is formed in the district of Shimoga, by the union of the Tunga and the Bhadra rivers. The river Tungabhadra flows east across the Deccan Plateau, joining the Krishna in Andhra Pradesh state and then empties into the Bay of Bengal.

The Ghataprabha begins in the Western Ghats and flows eastwards and joins the river Krishna. The river forms the well-known Gokak Falls in Belgaum District.

The Malaprabha rises in Western Ghats in Belgaum district. The river flows first in easterly and then in north-easterly directions and joins the Krishna at Kudalasangama.

The Bhima originates in the forest of Bhimashankar in Pune, and flows through the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. It joins the Krishna near Kudlu in Raichur taluk.

The Manjra, a tributary of the river Godavari, originates in the Bala Ghat range in Karnataka.

The North Pennar or the Uttara Pinakini and the South Pennar originate in Nandi hills of Kolar district.

The Palar begins in Talagavara in Kolar district and runs through Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu.

West-flowing Rivers in Karnataka

  • The Sharavathi originates at Ambuthirtha in Thirthahalli Taluk, flows north-west through the Western Ghats. It forms the famous Jog Falls before joining the Arabian Sea at Honavara.
  • The Mandavi originates in the Western Ghats in Belgaum and flows through Karnataka and Goa.
  • The Kalinadi originates in Bidi village in the Western Ghats.
  • The Gangavalli starts in the Western Ghats south of Dharwad.
  • The Aghanashini begins in the Western Ghats near Sirsi.

The other west-flowing rivers, which run through Karnataka, are the Chakra Nadi, the Varahi, the Netravathy, and the Barapole.

Also see