Brahmaputra River

Explore the wildlife along the Brahmaputra River of India

About The Brahmaputra River

The Brahmaputra is the only river in India named after a male god, making it a potent counterpart to the Great Mother Ganges.
A major river of South and Central Asia, the Brahmaputra flows from its source in the Himalayas, some 1,800 miles to its confluence with the Ganges, where the mingled waters spill into the Bay of Bengal. Along its course it passes through Tibet, the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, and Bangladesh. As it passes through different countries, the river assumes different names: Yarlung Tsangpo where it arises in Tibet’s Angsi Glacier, Dihang in the Arunachal Pradesh region of India, and the Jamuna River to the inhabitants of Bangladesh.
In the lush Assam valley in the northeast corner of India, the river becomes Brahmaputra, or “Son of Brahma,” in tribute to one of the greatest Hindu deities. Here, lucky travelers will discover historic palaces, forts and temples, and a rare glimpse into the customs and daily lives of remote tribes who have called this spot home for centuries. Other attractions include verdant tea plantations and one of the world’s great wildernesses, Kaziranga National Park, home to elephant, wild swamp and hog deer, white rhino, tiger, and leopard, as well as a living kaleidoscope of brightly colored birds.
The Brahmaputra River cruise season runs from November through April, when the monsoon rains end. A handful of operators offer river cruises on the Brahmaputra; regardless of who you travel with, chances are good you will sail aboard the MV Mahabaahu, the river’s largest vessel, accommodating 46 passengers on five decks.

Brahmaputra River Stats

Length: 2,390 miles
Depth: Average 124 feet, maximum 380 feet
Source: Himalayas, Tibet, near Bhagarath Glacier
Mouth: Ganges Delta into the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh
Locks: 0
Countries: China | India | Bangladesh

Learn more about the Brahmaputra River of Asia

The Brahmaputra River, often referred to as the “Yarlung Tsangpo” in Tibet, “Jamuna” in Bangladesh, and “Tsangpo-Brahmaputra” in some contexts, is one of the most significant and awe-inspiring rivers in the world. This transboundary river flows through multiple countries, including China, India, and Bangladesh, playing a crucial role in the socio-economic and ecological systems of South Asia. Spanning approximately 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles), it is the 9th longest river globally, and its basin is one of the most densely populated and ecologically diverse regions on Earth.


Geography and Course

The Brahmaputra originates from the Chemayungdung Glacier in Tibet, on the northern slopes of the Himalayas. As it begins its journey, it is known as the Yarlung Tsangpo. The river traverses through the Tibetan Plateau, where it cuts through deep gorges and carves a path through some of the world’s highest mountains, including Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga. The river’s journey through this region is marked by stunning landscapes and unique geological formations.  As the river crosses into India’s Arunachal Pradesh state, it takes on the name “Brahmaputra.” Here, it continues its meandering course, winding through the northeastern states of India before entering the vast plains of Assam. This region, known as the Brahmaputra Valley, is heavily dependent on the river for agriculture, transportation, and as a source of livelihood.  In Assam, the river divides into multiple channels, forming a complex and ever-changing network of islands known as “char lands.” These lands are crucial for agriculture and are constantly reshaped by the river’s seasonal floods. The Brahmaputra continues its journey southward into Bangladesh, where it merges with the Ganges River and ultimately flows into the Bay of Bengal.


Role in Ecology and Biodiversity

The Brahmaputra River and its floodplains are home to a remarkable array of biodiversity. The rich alluvial soil deposited by the annual monsoon floods makes this region highly fertile and conducive to agriculture. However, it is the unique flood pulse of the Brahmaputra that sets it apart ecologically. The river’s annual floods are a double-edged sword, bringing both destruction and nourishment.  These floods are vital for maintaining the health of the ecosystem. They rejuvenate the soil, disperse nutrients, and provide breeding and feeding grounds for various fish species. The river and its associated wetlands support an impressive variety of wildlife, including the Bengal tiger, Indian rhinoceros, and numerous bird species. The river also hosts several endangered and endemic fish species, making it a critical hotspot for aquatic biodiversity.


Challenges and Human Impact

While the Brahmaputra River is a lifeline for millions of people in the region, it also poses significant challenges. The annual monsoon floods can lead to widespread devastation, displacing communities, damaging crops, and causing loss of life. In addition to floods, the river is prone to erosion, which has led to the displacement of villages and agricultural lands.  Furthermore, anthropogenic activities, such as dam construction, deforestation, and industrial pollution, have put immense pressure on the river’s ecosystem. China’s construction of dams on the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra has raised concerns about downstream water availability and ecological impacts. In India, the construction of embankments and infrastructure development has altered the river’s natural flow, exacerbating erosion and flood-related problems.  The river also faces pollution challenges, as urban centers and industries along its banks discharge untreated sewage and chemicals into its waters. This pollution not only harms aquatic life but also affects the quality of water available for human consumption and agriculture.


Importance for Human Livelihoods

The Brahmaputra River is a vital source of livelihood for millions of people in the region. The fertile floodplains support agriculture, with rice being the primary crop. Fishing is another crucial occupation, providing both sustenance and income to many communities. Additionally, the river serves as a major transportation route, facilitating trade and commerce.  In Bangladesh, the river’s importance is particularly pronounced. The Jamuna, as it is known there, is not just a river but a way of life. The nation’s culture, cuisine, and traditions are deeply intertwined with the river, and it plays a central role in the livelihoods of countless Bangladeshis.


International Cooperation and Challenges

The Brahmaputra’s transboundary nature presents complex challenges and opportunities for cooperation among the riparian countries. China, India, and Bangladesh all share an interest in effectively managing the river’s resources, addressing flood-related issues, and ensuring sustainable development in the region.  Historically, there have been disputes and tensions related to water sharing and dam construction on the river. However, there have also been initiatives for cooperation, such as the Brahmaputra River Basin Organization (BRBO), aimed at fostering dialogue and collaboration among the countries.


Future Outlook

The future of the Brahmaputra River is intertwined with the collective actions of the riparian nations and the international community. Sustainable development practices, responsible water management, and efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change are essential to secure the river’s long-term health and the well-being of the people and ecosystems that depend on it.


The Brahmaputra River, with its awe-inspiring beauty and immense significance, serves as a reminder of the intricate relationship between nature and human societies. Its waters have sustained civilizations for millennia, and as we navigate the challenges of the 21st century, it is crucial that we work together to protect and preserve this remarkable river for generations to come.

Your Brahmaputra River Cruise Awaits!

Are you ready to start planning your Brahmaputra River Cruise Vacation Your Way? A River Cruise Artist at River Cruise Your Way is ready to be your vacation concierge. Contact us today at 1-800-259-7612 or use the form below and let us know when it is most convenient to call you, we will confirm via e-mail, and then reach out at the agreed upon time and date.