Names of rivers, like names of places have been influenced by several factors, like geographic features, indigenous languages, local traditions and many others. It is quite normal to find a mythological reference to the name of river, like river Bhagirathi is named after Sage Bhagirath who approached Lord Brahma to let Ganga flow to the earth for salvation of his ancestors.
A river known by one name at one place may be known by a different name at another place at the same time, like the river Indus is known as Singi Khamban in Tibet. Over time, the names of rivers change due to linguistic evolution and adaptation. Ancient names of rivers can be found in historical and mythological literature of the country.
This page is intended to list the ancient names of some of the Indian rivers, at the same time, give the alternate names in case of transboundary rivers.
|Present Day Name||Ancient/Alternate Name|
|Indus||Sindhu (Ancient name); Singi Khamban (Tibetan name)|
|Ganga||Padma (Bangladeshi name)|
|Yamuna||Kalindi (Ancient name)|
|Jhelum||Vitasta (Ancient name); Hydaspes(Greek name)|
|Chenab||Asikini (Ancient name); Chandrabhagha|
|Ravi||Parusni (Ancient name); Airavati|
|Beas||Vipasa (Ancient name); Hyphasis(Greek name)|
|Sutlej||Sutudri (Ancient name); Zarodros (Greek name); Langechen Khambab (Tibetan name)|
|Brahmaputra||Dihang; Tsangpo(Tibetan name)|
|Krishna||Krsnavena, Krsnaveni, Kanhapenna (Ancient names)|
|Narmada||Namade (Greek name)|