The Narmada (Devanagari: नर्मदा, Gujarati: નર્મદા) is a river in central India and the fifth largest river in the Indian subcontinent. It forms the traditional boundary between North India and South India and flows westwards over a length of 1,312 km (815.2 mi) before draining through the Gulf of Cambey (Khambat) into the Arabian Sea, 30 km (18.6 mi) west of Bharuch city of Gujarat. It is one of only three major rivers in peninsular India that runs from east to west (largest west flowing river) along with the Tapti River and the Mahi River. It is the only river in India that flows in a rift valley flowing west between the Satpura and Vindhya ranges although the Tapti River and Mahi River also flow through rift valleys but between different ranges. It flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh (1,077 km (669.2 mi)), Maharashtra, (74 km (46.0 mi))– (35 km (21.7 mi)) border between Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and (39 km (24.2 mi) border between Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and in Gujarat (161 km (100.0 mi))..
The Periplus Maris Erythraei (c. 80 CE) calls it the Nammadus, and the British Raj called it the Nerbudda or Narbada. Narmadā is a Sanskrit word meaning “the Giver of Pleasure”.
The source of the Narmada is a small tank called Narmada Kund located on the Amarkantak hill(1,057 m (3,467.8 ft)), in the Anuppur District of eastern Madhya Pradesh. The river descends from the Amarkantak hill range at the Kapildhara falls over a cliff and meanders in the hills flowing through a tortuous course crossing the rocks and islands up to the ruined palace of Ramnagar. Between Ramnagar and Mandla, (25 km (15.5 mi)), further southeast, the course is comparatively straight with deep water devoid of rocky obstacles. The Banger [disambiguation needed] joins from the left. The river then runs north–east in a narrow loop towards Jabalpur. Close to this city, after a fall of some (9 m (29.5 ft)), called the Dhuandhara, the fall of mist, it flows for (3 km (1.9 mi)), in a deep narrow channel through the magnesium limestone and basalt rocks called the Marble Rocks; from a width of about 90 m (295.3 ft), above, it is compressed in this channel of (18 m (59.1 ft)), only. Beyond this point up to its meeting the Arabian Sea, the Narmada enters three narrow valleys between the Vindhya scarps in the north and the Satpura range in the South. The southern extension of the valley is wider at most places. These three valley sections are separated by the closely approaching line of the scarps and the Satpura hills.
Emerging from the Marble Rocks the river enters its first fertile basin, which extends sukanyaabout 320 km (198.8 mi), with an average width of 35 km (21.7 mi), in the south. In the north, the valley is limited to the Barna–Bareli plain terminating at Barkhara hills opposite Hoshangabad. However, the hills again recede in the Kannod plains. The banks are about (12 m (39.4 ft)) high. It is in the first valley of the Narmada that many of its important tributaries from the south join it and bring the waters of the northern slopes of the Satpura hills. Among them are: the Sher, the Shakkar, the Dudhi, the Tawa (biggest tributary) & the Ganjal. The Hiran, the Barna, the Choral, the Karam and the Lohar are the important tributaries joining from the north.
Below Handia and Nemawar to Hiran fall (the deer’s leap), the river is approached by hills from both sides. In this stretch the character of the river is varied. The Omkareshwar island, sacred to the Lord Shiva, is the most important river island in Madhya Pradesh. At first, the descent is rapid and the stream, quickening in pace, rushes over a barrier of rocks.sukanya The Sikta and the Kaveri join it below the Khandwa plain. At two points, at Mandhar, about40 km (24.9 mi), below Nemawar, and Dadrai, 40 km (24.9 mi), further down near Punasa, the river falls over a height of about 12 m (39.4 ft).
A few kilometres further down near Bareli and the crossing ghat of the Agra to Mumbai road, National Highway 3, the Narmada enters the Mandleshwar plain, the second basin about 180 km (111.8 mi) long and 65 km (40.4 mi) wide in the south. The northern strip of the basin is only 25 km (15.5 mi). The second valley section is broken only by Saheshwar Dhara fall. The early course of about 125 km (77.7 mi) up to Markari falls is met with a succession of cataracts and rapids from the elevated table land of Malwa to the low level of Gujarat plain. Towards the west of this basin, the hills draw very close but soon dwindle down.
Below Makrai, the river flows between Vadodara district and Narmada district and then meanders through the rich plain of Bharuch district of Gujarat state. The banks are high between the layers of old alluvial deposits, hardened mud, gravels of nodular limestone and sand. The width of the river spans from about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) at Makrai to 3 km (1.9 mi) near Bharuch and to an estuary of 21 km (13.0 mi) at the Gulf of Khambat. An old channel of the river, 1 km (0.6 mi) to 2 km (1.2 mi) south from the present one, is very clear below Bharuch. The Karanjan and the Orsing are the most important tributaries in the original course. The former joins at Rundh and the latter at Vyas in Vadodara district of Gujarat, opposite each other and form a Triveni (confluence of three rivers) on the Narmada. The Amaravati and the Bhukhi are other tributaries of significance. Opposite the mouth of the Bhukhi is a large drift called Alia Bet or Kadaria Bet.
The tidal rise is felt up to 32 km (19.9 mi) above Bharuch, where the neap tides rise to about a metre and spring tide 3.5 m (11.5 ft). The river is navigable for vessels of the burthen of 95 tonnes (i.e., 380 Bombay candies) up to Bharuch and for vessels up to 35 tonnes (140 Bombay candies) up to Shamlapitha or Ghangdia. The small vessels (10 tonnes) voyage up to Tilakawada in Gujarat. There are sand bases and shoals at mouth and at Bharuch. The nearby island of Kabirvad, in the Narmada River, features a gigantic Banyan tree, which covers 10,000 square metres (2.5 acres).